Sunday, December 17, 2006

Felix Gonzalez-Torres until 09.01.07 Hamburger Bahnhof , Berlin

The RealismusStudio of the New Society of Fine Arts (Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst) will be presenting a comprehensive retrospective at the Hamburger Bahnhof. The exhibition concentrates on the artist’s semi-temporary and reproducible works as well as on a selection from his photographic oeuvre.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres was one of the most important American artists of the 1990s. His work is characterized by a keen understanding of the social, cultural and political situation and an ability to translate such complex circumstances and events into the simplest of forms. The formal openness of the content of his objects and photographs contrasts with his political statements and private experiences. He leaves it up to viewers to interpret them as they will, aware that these interpretations will be dependent on their cultural and socio-political contexts.

Aesthetically polished and socially provocative, Felix Gonzalez-Torres used minimalist strategies and added personal, social and political meaning. Through his work in the 1990s, he made an important contribution to the critical reception of minimalism and concept art as politically motivated art forms within the “system”. His aim was on the one hand to work within the traditional context of art-making practices, on the other hand to infiltrate the system. This may be seen for instance in the billboard projects shown at public sites, in which he makes use of subversively aesthetic marketing strategies and thus open up for discussion questions of what is "private" and what is "public".

As a gay artist of Cuban origin, another theme of Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ work was societal emancipation, including sexual emancipation; the gender discussion; equal integration of ethnic groups and of feminist theory and practice in the general art discourse. The blotting out of history, the efficiency of the political system, the omnipresence of ideology and the AIDS crisis all culminate in Gonzalez-Torres’s artistic work and activity.

This retrospective coincides with the 10th anniversary of the death of Felix Gonzalez-Torres. The artist’s work has been shown in five RealismusStudio exhibitions since 1988 (two of them solo exhibitions). The curator of the show, Frank Wagner, has followed his artistic development almost from the beginning. In this exhibition the works byGonzalez-Torres will not be just refabricated, but reinstalled.


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