Guillermo Bert

  • Presenting & Multidisciplinary Works
  • Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles-based multi-media artist Guillermo Bert was born in Santiago, Chile in 1959. His bi-cultural experience provides him with a lived perspective from which his artistic expression is cultivated. Bert combines his decades-long practice of working with cultural symbols of urbanism, consumerism and displacement – dating back to his 1990s iterations of street-level ‘bricolage’ that delved into the urban archaeology of street posters along Los Angeles’s skid row. From there, he modified his commodities work to incorporate electronic barcodes into laser cuts and paintings, until his first trip home to Chile in 2010. That trip marked a turning point in his work through his experience collaborating with the indigenous Mapuche community’s traditional weavers. He worked with the weavers to integrate functional QR codes into the traditional textile designs. These “high tech” QR codes, when scanned with a smartphone, take the viewer into a filmic world of story, myth and reflection by Mapuche elders, activists and poets. Extending this idea, Bert continues to experiment with this multi-layered format, collaborating to date with Mapuche, Navajo, Maya, Mixtec and Zapotec weavers. The result is a series of 40 embedded films that “decode” cultural messaging and create a bond between the distant viewer and the intimacy of the community of indigenous artists and storytellers.

The filmic and multimedia aspects of the project, while intrinsic to the textile project as a whole, also stand alone as visual media testimony and glimpses into cultural life through documentary inquiry and observation. In his video production work of the last five years, Bert has trained the camera on the urgency of the messages relayed and traveled through the artworks of indigenous artists. The artists in these films speak for themselves, often in the voices of their indigenous languages. These 40 short films from more than 7 countries, approximately 10 minutes each, will be woven together to form a “mini-series”. The project continues to unfold, including all manner of content and forms along the media spectra – from weavings to laser sculptures to photographs to film.

Bert’s work will be featured in a major mid-career retrospective at the Nevada Museum of Art in autumn 2023, accompanied by a 200+ page catalog. His work was recently acquired by The Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery and will be included in their 50th-anniversary exhibition, “Crafting a New World,” opening in May 2022. LACMA and the Rhode Island Museum of Art also recently bought pieces for their permanent collections.

Bert has exhibited his work nationally and internationally at museums and galleries, including: Queens Museum in NY, Palm Springs Museum, Lille3000 in France, Anchorage Museum in Alaska, Nevada Museum of Art, MoLAA (Museum of Latin American Art), Pasadena Museum of California Art, Museum of Art and Design in New York, shows with L.A./L.A. Pacific Standard Time and the Folk and Craft Museum, and UCR (Riverside).

His work has been reviewed nationally and internationally by Smithsonian Magazine, ArtNews Magazine, LA Times and LA Weekly. He was awarded a COLA individual artist grant from the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, received the California Community Foundation Fellowship in 2015, the Center for Cultural Innovation Quick Grant for Education in 2015, and the 2010 Master Artist Grant from the National Association of Latino Arts.

Bert’s career as an artist and educator takes many forms, including Art Director for the Los Angeles Times (1995-2000) and Professor of Mixed Media at the Art Center School of Design, Pasadena, California. During the pandemic, Bert participated in several online talks with museums, including The Museum of Art and Design in NY, The George Washington University Museum in DC and The Long Beach Museum of Latin American Art.