Felix Gonzalez-Torres Specific Objects without Specific Form

05 Mar - 25 Apr 2010

Installation by Danh Vo. Photo: Sven Laurent.

2nd version: installed by Danh Vo

05.03 - 25.04.2010

Wiels premieres the second part of an unconventional retrospective of Felix Gonzalez-Torres (American, b. Cuba 1957-1996), one of the most influential artists of his generation. The exhibition spreads itself throughout the second, third, and forth (panorama) floors, as well as spilling onto the stairwell, other marginal spaces of the institution, and even into the streets of Brussels and beyond where, for instance, the artist’s iconic billboards can be seen scattered through the city.

The exhibition reflects the short but prolific career of Gonzalez-Torres, whose work engages critically with Conceptual art and Minimalism, mixing political activism, emotional affect, and deep formal concerns in a wide range of media, often using ordinary objects as a starting point—clocks, paper, light fixtures. Amongst his most famous artworks are his piles of candy and stacks of paper from which viewers are allowed to take away a piece. The constantly changing result offers a model of the work of art as unstable and precarious, like life itself. What emerges is a profoundly human body of work, intimate and fragile even as it destabilizes so many seemingly unshakable certainties: the artwork as fixed, the author as the ultimate form-giver, the exhibition as a place to look but not touch. By offering two radically different versions of an exhibition devoted to Gonzalez-Torres’ iconic artworks, this retrospective insists that there is no correct, absolute, or singular way to present the oeuvre of an artist like Gonzalez-Torres whose entire practice insisted on both the fragility of the artwork and the questioning of authorities of all kinds.

The first exhibition, a selection of 46 artworks installed by curator Elena Filipovic was shown from January 16-February 28th. Artist Danh Vo was then invited to reinstall the exhibition: in his version, he has selected 17 Gonzalez-Torres pieces, having decided to radically reduce the number of exhibited artworks, preferring to create a sparse and poetic scenography that emphasizes the visitor’s physical relationship to each object and the space they find themselves in. Vo’s installation of the exhibition constitutes one artist’s interpretation of another artist’s iconic artworks. Vo, an artist whose own practice has been deeply influenced by Gonzalez-Torres’s work, has created careful juxtapositions and dialogues that reveal a new reading of Gonzalez-Torres’ art.

Tags: Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Danh Vo