Study Case 1 – Felix Gonzales Torres

Felix Gonzales Torres, was born on the 26th of November 1957 in Cuba. He was a well-known visual artist, who was influenced by his sexual orientation towards men, which is often seen in his pieces.  A work that triggered my attention was his candy- pile structure: ‘Untitled’ (USA Today) made in 1990. The simplicity of this artwork is what interested me most. He uses the strategy of minimalism as he installs 300 pounds of candy, wrapped in different colors. It is not a usual sculpture: not because of what it’s made of, but the fact that viewers interact with the work. It is a portrait of the man he loved, Ross Laycock, who lost his life due to aids. The weight of the candy-pile is relevant to his lover’s weight before he fell ill. As viewers in the exhibit take a candy from the pile, (and interact with the artwork) the weight of the sculpture drops. This represents Ross Laycock as he was losing his life, and eventually died. Through this work, Torres criticizes American newspapers that boil down important current events on an economic, social, and political scale. His work is dedicated to the man he loved, as he criticizes and resents the propaganda / fake message that the US government sent regarding the idea of ‘Making America Great Again’, when in reality, homosexuality and illnesses such as Aids were still taboo and disregarded by the government.

This work influenced my approach to the portrait / ‘Eyes Without a Face’ project as I figured that no matter how minimal the work is, what stands out is the depth of the process and intention behind the work. I figured that any banal representation could mean many things that go in depth, no matter the strategy used to make an artwork.

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