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A year 2018 marked by issues of immigration

December, 2018

In 2018, artist José Luis Torres presented three solo exhibitions in Ontario, Québec, and Alberta, each time touching on issues linked to immigration, exile, and notions of identity.  

Population movements around the world are not new. Since the dawn of time, migrants have left their homeland to find a better life elsewhere. Canada has welcomed immigrants for a long time. However, the number of landed immigrants has significantly increased and fluctuated with the global economy, the international conflicts, and the migratory policies. It is this very phenomenon that Torres wanted to explore in his work.

He started in Toronto,from June 21 to August26, 2018, where he was invited bythe curator and director of the Koffler Gallery, Mona Filip, to create Question d’adaptation (A Matter of Adaptation). This large sculptural installation focussed on three essential notions of the migration experience: camouflage, reflection, and reconstruction.

Trying to merge into a new cultural setting and to reflect its social conventions is a familiar process for the newcomers. As assimilation permanently affects the issue of identity, layers of individuality may become nearly invisible, or be redesigned and reconstructed towards an increasingly complex self-expression.

Metaphorically exploring the strategies of adaptation and reinventing the immigrant identity, Torres transforms the exhibition space with sculptural interventions, creating an immersive context that shakes up the visitors’ expectations. His installation presents itself as a seemingly endless embedding construction that reflects the state of precariousness and constant change inherent to immigration. 

Back in the province of Québec, over the month of July, the artist produced Errances (Wandering). This artisticproject was specifically designed for the Centre d'Art Jacques-et-Michel-Auger in Victoriaville in partnership with the Biennale nationale de sculpture contemporaine - 2018. 

In this installation, symbols originally designed to guide us turn into elements intended to deceive or mislead us. Inventing a new topography, the artist sets up esthetic and conceptual apparatuses that question the visitors and invite them to move and to be moved on a site interpreted as an object, among objects interpreted as sites. 

Well aware that movement is also about self-construction, José Luis Torres is attentive to the bifurcations and changes of directions that shape lifestyles in our era. 

The correspondence between the components of the installation, as well as the references borrowed from geography and the science of cartography, create a space to question migratory realities, in which movements call upon frailty, instability, and the adaptation capacity of human beings. 

In Alberta, in the month of September,the artist was invited by Josephine Mills, curator and director of the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, where he created and presented The Everyday Future

This exhibition took the form of a large-scale installation made by deconstructing two caravans. As part of a creation residency, the whole interior space of the gallery and exterior space of the university campus became the support for an amalgam of short-lived interventions. The objective of this project was to bring the population to question the occupation of space, the human precariousness and the issues linked to immigration. 

The artist used the reconstructed caravans to push the utopia of habitat to its limits, pretending to jeopardize the notion of comfort associated with the notion of home.

The Everyday Future questions the relationship between the notion of habitat, that implies stability, and the notion of campground, which implies a state of vulnerability.

For further information: 

University of Lethbridge Art Gallery : http://www.uleth.ca/artgallery/?p=16904

Koffler Gallery : http://kofflerarts.org/exhibitions/2018/03/26/jose-luis-torres-question-dadaptation/

Centre d'Art Jacques-et-Michel-Auger : http://www.lecarre150.com/expositions/detail/Jose-Luis-Torres/Errances/29-06-2018-12-00

Biennale nationale de sculpture contemporaine - 2018 : http://www.en.bnsc.ca/6027-jose_luis_torres

 

 

 

 

 

José Luis Torres closes the year 2017 on a high note

December 2017

With D’entrée de jeu, an unprecedented exhibition at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, and his participation in the public art event Urban Green: artscarp in Hamilton, Ontario, artist José Luis Torres closes a prolific diversified year on a high note.

Torres was first invited by the curator of the pan-Canadian exhibition Urban Green Artscarp, Sally Frater, to present Securitas II as part of Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations at Sam Lawrence Park, in Hamilton, Ontario, from September 30 to December 2, 2017.

Renewing the notion of site-specific work in consonance with the spirit of place, this project puts forward the idea of an “installative” artwork radically confronting the landscape. Securitas II, a Latin word with multiple meanings, refers to protection, prevention, and to a sense of safety from any danger or risk. The work confronts us with our obsession for safety. It evokes a fully protected place that guarantees our safety, yet it can also be interpreted as an apparatus that restricts our access to its content.

Back in Québec, in November, the artist created D’entrée de jeu, an artistic project designed especially for the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ).

This project offers a progressive immersion in a captivating visual and tactile experience that stimulates the interest of the younger ones for art. It is a playful, interactive space in which children, with their families, sharpen their visual perception of creation through fun and exploration. 

Colors, textures and touch play an essential role in this stimulating project. The whole sculptural elements allow children to discover Torres’ universe and share his creative process and practice. The colorful exhibition invites visitors to observe, create, and take center stage. Its walls covered in optical illusions and three-dimensional effects offer families a unique environment designed to stimulate exploration and foster the reinvention of new play rules. 

All the while, in an iconoclastic use of recycled materials, the exhibition catches the children’s attention and shows them how to become more responsible towards our planet. Chairs, kayaks, wheelbarrows, lifesavers, plastic bins, watering cans, traffic cones and doors, among other objects, are a source of discoveries and wonders, but also offer a second-degree reading, questioning our relationship to objects, our consumer habits. 

With D’entrée de jeu, the MNBAQ’s central pavilion comes to life in a vibrant four-act experience: 

LE PASSAGE (THE PASSAGE)

Between the walls of the Riopelle Passage, strange, soft, yet troubling shapes have appeared. Playfully, with a touch of irony, tubular shapes covered in fake green, orange, blue, and pink fur face passersby with notions of diversity. Offering a visual, tactile stimulation as well as a moment of questioning, the whole experience becomes an exchange between a poetic abstraction and the reflections of an ever changing society. 

L’ARCHIPEL (THE ARCHIPELAGO)

Designed as a giant puzzle with infinite possibilities, modules on wheels are at the participants’ disposal. Painted in orange, all components of these modules form an archipelago of shapes, or an inspiring creation work site. Manipulation and creation are the key words in this section of the Family Gallery.

LA FUGUE (THE ESCAPE)

Torres’ works in the public space are truly distinctive, surprising sculptures created from multi-shaped, multicolored objects. D’entrée de jeu features a splendid jumble, La fugue (The Escape), a cascade of objects in balance, overflowing from the Family Gallery. It impresses visitors, makes them smile, carries them away… and sparks reflection.

LA CABANE RÉINVENTÉE (THE REINVENTED CABIN)

Spaces devoted to silent contemplation are as important as those for active play. In another area of the exhibition, several gateways lead children to a dream cabin with soft pillows and captivating books. There, they can rest, observe, discover multiple perspectives and spatial interpretations, invent treasure hunts or secret places.

 The exhibition D’entrée de jeu is open until October, 2018.

For more information: https://www.mnbaq.org/en/exhibition/d-entree-de-jeu-1254