Active from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, the Cuban-born American artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957–1996) was celebrated for a multidisciplinary practice distinguished by his use of simple materials and everyday images in repetitive, serial gestures and arrangements. His work “Untitled” (Strange Bird) consists of a black-and-white image installed on multiple public billboards: for this manifestation, one billboard is presented here in the gallery, and six are mounted outdoors throughout the city.
In this quiet image, a winged form is silhouetted against a moody sky. Gonzalez-Torres’s work was informed, in part, by his experiences as an openly gay man living and working in the 1980s and ‘90s, within the geopolitical context of that era and against the backdrop of the HIV/AIDS health crisis. In his practice, the artist questioned the lines between personal and political, between private and public.
These billboard works disrupt the urban landscape, inserting art into the public realm and prompting viewers to consider an unknowable number of associations evoked by the imagery: human connection and sexuality; migration and belonging; love, loss, and redemption.
"Untitled" (Strange Bird) is presented at the AGO (where it can be seen on Level 4 of the gallery) and on billboards across the city in partnership with MOCA Toronto from May 2–30, 2022. These manifestations coincide with Felix Gonzalez-Torres: Summer, the first solo exhibition of the artist’s work in Canada, on view at MOCA Toronto from March 10 to July 31, 2022.
Contemporary programming at the AGO is supported by
2659 Eglinton Ave. E. (at Danforth Ave.)
1668 Dupont St. (at Dundas St.)
1501 Queen St. W. (at Beaty Ave.)
282 Richmond St. E. (at Sherbourne Ave.)
443 Spadina Ave. (at College St.)
713 Weston Rd. (at Rogers Rd.)
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