October 13, 2016 - Rockbund Art Museum - Felix Gonzalez-Torres
October 13, 2016

Rockbund Art Museum

View of Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, 2016. © The Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation. Courtesy of Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres
September 30–December 25, 2016

Rockbund Art Museum
No.20 Huqiu Road

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The Rockbund Art Museum is honored to present the first solo exhibition of the influential international artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957–96) in Greater China. From September 30 to December 25, 2016, RAM will host a exciting exhibition of work by the American artist, who is renowned for his unconventional methodology and poignant sensitivity. The unique nature of his work takes this exhibition beyond a retrospective; it constitutes a genuine renewal of his art.

Selected from 30 institutions and collections across the world, the exhibition includes over 40 pieces, spanning from 1987 to 1995, allows audiences to contemplate a broad and meaningful selection of the artist’s works. The tension between the public and private, the shared and the personal, comprises a recurrent theme for Gonzalez-Torres. Many of the artist’s works consist of everyday objects, such as strings of lightbulbs, mirrors, wall clocks or printed sheets of paper. Other works are comprised of spills of candy and jigsaw puzzles. His artwork itself is like a puzzle, but lacking a univocal order. Its demure minimal aesthetic solicits the audience to put the pieces together for themselves, inviting a plurality of pictures to emerge.

It is well known that Gonzalez-Torres produced his work in the '80s and '90s in an American society and art community profoundly affected by the AIDS epidemic. However, it would be a mistake to engage with his work as simply dealing with homosexual issues or the AIDS crisis. These issues represent that circumstances under which the works were made, and can be understood as platforms for exploring human values, relationships and aspirations at large, both in the artist and in the viewer. In fact, one of the most intriguing aspects of this exhibition is the dramatic shift in the historical and cultural context of the artworks as they are exhibited in Shanghai. Much of Gonzalez-Torres’ work allows the environment to shape its aesthetic. By staging the exhibition in contemporary China, it will open up the artist’s work to a new context, as a 21st century Chinese public confronts its message for the first time. Audiences in China may readily recognize a postmodern diagnostic in the artworks on show. It is certainly a presentation relevant to an age of information, where social media and the internet tend to fragment personal identities and abrogate local bonds.

20 years since his passing, RAM is able to present the work of Felix Gonzalez-Torres afresh, moving beyond the labels that once constrained its definition. Its uniquely interactive nature entails that meaning is not only discovered, but also contributed by its audience. This reciprocity is what makes Gonzalez-Torres both an artist of the polity, and in the end altogether intimate. Quirky and opaque, sharp and humorous: the pieces presented in this forthcoming exhibition will incite introspection just as they draw its audiences together.

Rockbund Art Museum would like to thank the Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation and the many institutions that graciously loaned their pieces, both for their generous help and their assistance in bringing this exhibition into realization.

About the artist

Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957–1996) was the subject of several important museum exhibitions during his lifetime, including Felix Gonzalez-Torres: Traveling (1994) at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.; and The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago; and a retrospective organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1995), which traveled to the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela; and ARC-Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Gonzalez-Torres’s interest in social and political causes may have informed the overlap of private and public life that can be found in his work. From 1987 to 1991, he was part of Group Material, a New York–based art collective whose members worked collaboratively to initiate community education and cultural activism. In 2007, Gonzalez-Torres was selected to represent the United States at the 52nd Venice Biennale, in the exhibition Felix Gonzalez-Torres: America.

About the curators

Larys Frogier is the Director of the Rockbund Art Museum (RAM) in Shanghai. Curator, critic and art historian, he is involved in artistic and social challenges in post-global contexts where ongoing social, economical, cultural transformations demand new ways of interrelations, citizenship and reinvented creativity. He curated numerous exhibitions and published extensive essays on the works of international artists: Adel Abdessemed, Nan Goldin, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Paola Pivi, Ugo Rondinone, Wang Du, Yang Jiechang.

Li Qi is Senior Curator at Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai. He was Opinions Editor at The Art Newspaper China and Senior Editor at LEAP, where he currently serves as a contributing editor. He was a jury member of the 2015 Hugo Boss Asia Art Award for Emerging Asian Artists. In 2014, Li Qi curated CONDITIONS: An Exhibition of Queer Art, at club Destination, Beijing. In 2016, he curated Heman Chong: Ifs, Ands, or Buts at Rockbund Art Museum in Shanghai. Li Qi graduated from Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), and from London’s Chelsea College of Art and Design. He has worked at institutions such as the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) in Beijing and the British Film Institute (BFI) in London.

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