ITS PRIDE MONTH AND WE KNOW IT!
There are exceptional well-known artists that have proudly represented the LGBTQ+ community in the past decades. Félix González-Torres is a great example of an artist that was able to deliver true pride through his art! While also raising consciousness of AIDS, and protecting the gay community against repression. Felix, born in Cuba, died of AIDS in Miami at the age of 39.
To dive you deeper into his work, it’s essential to present to you this artist’s life partner, Ross Laycock. Everything about González-Torres’s artwork had to do with Ross as a muse and as a partner...it's undeniable! Their story tells they were deeply in love, like a couple that seemed to be taken out of a very romantic and eventful movie.. but when Ross lost his battle against AIDS in 1991, Felix’s way to see and understand the world revolved around the loss of his beloved partner. He wouldn't consider his art to be gay for itself, but rather art that speaks of the love for a man.
1 . “Untitled” (Perfect Lovers), 1991.
These two huge identical wall clocks are glued and synchronized in time. This poetical piece perfectly represents the love between Felix and Ross, two clocks that start aligned by ticking seconds by the beat, day after day, but eventually drift apart with the passage of time, and loss of energy. As two equals that met in time, and moved forward for as long as they could despite difficulties, like impotence and illness.
When both clocks lose synchronicity, they begin to mark different hours. - Perhaps one of the most impotent and horrible feelings we could experience is watching one of them stop ticking!
Lovers No. 4 2021. ''The Love for a Man'' By VIII. Available for purchase. BUY NOW
Loving with that transparency, shifts a paradigm of what love can be! What a relationship can aspire to, how the world can be a better place, and how human kindness can prevail.
More ART from Felix to Ross
One of his most well-known and heartbreaking installations is a pile of sweets in different colored wrapping paper that pose as a portrait of Ross Laycock. The pile of sweets displayed on the corner of the showroom weighs exactly 175 pounds; the same as Ross used to weigh before battling against AIDS. Just like Ross started to lose weight and stability throughout his illness, the public is invited to take sweets from the pile, making the pile contain less and less candy overtime until it's simply gone.
The invitation to eat one of these sweets is definitely heart wrecking! The artist poetically makes taking a small piece of candy of the bunch into taking a small piece of the existence of Ross forever. As if González-Torres sought to reproduce the essence of Ross through each viewer in the moment they took the candy. – Ana Karen, VIII’s Team.
2. “Untitled” (Portrait of Ross in L.A) by Féliz González-Torres
Without question, the artist managed to reflect his freedom from guilt and love of his own homosexuality and boundless generosity to his loved one. - these are specific attributes that Félix loved about Ross and pointed out in several interviews.
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Specific Subjects in Félix González-Torres’s work
González-Torres’s work practically speaks of three subjects: death, love and mourning. Although many people might think his work is banal and improvised to the naked eye; his impeccable and story-telling speech behind his work has struck generation after generation with amazement...and has never failed us!
Félix would exceptionally create some of his most prolific work dedicated to the man he loved. The relationship between these two perfect lovers has become a modern art-historical legend.
4. Anonymous Queer flyer circa 1991 (confirmed by Avram Finklestein).
AIDS Epidemic in New York
Just like Félix González-Torres and Ross Laycock, many other New York gay artists of the time sadly passed from this heartbreaking disease. The Federal government delayed in taking action and thousands of lives were lost from the midst of the 80’s up until the end of the 90’s. The gay community responded to the epidemic through the creation of organizations like the Gay Men’s Health Crisis ( GMHC) and the American Foundation for AIDS Research. GMHC, being a health and gay rights organization, worked on raising awareness to avoid a wider spread of the disease.
“I could have done that myself!” This is the typical thought that rushes through many people’s minds when contemplating conceptual artwork. But let me tell you that art is not just about having talent or a god-given gift for craftsmanship.
Art is about the purpose behind the aesthetic decisions made by the artist. In this case, with the piece I showed you earlier, Untitled (Perfect Lovers) created by Félix González-Torres, we validate the use of two clocks that could have been easily bought from a department store as art; due to the complex and at the same time simple purpose behind them. The purpose is to symbolize the subtle and poetic representation of a relationship between two equals, two men that loved each other until illness tore them apart. Still, the artist uses the clocks to represent the dying time and limited life span the clocks have as a material entity; considering that they will eventually start failing, until one day the ticking will suddenly stop.
I think that is more than enough explanation to accept that not me, not you, and not anybody else besides Félix González-Torres could’ve done that incredible token of eternal love in that simple but striking matter!
Blog Author: Ana Karen Morales Q.
Blog Editor: VIII
Chaoze. Félix González-Torres “Untitled” (Perfect Lovers), July 12, 2006. https://www.flickr.com/photos/janet0118/8337986563.
Mark6mauno. “Untitled” (Portrait of Ross in L.A) by Féliz González-Torres. November 1, 2013. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mark6mauno/10788368034
Mark6mauno. A man taking a piece of candy from the arte piece. Novemeber 1, 2013. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mark6mauno/10788507753/
Joe Clark. Anonymous Queer flyer circa 1991 (confirmed by Avram Finklestein). July 6, 2014. https://www.flickr.com/photos/joeclark/14587731842/in/album-72157645542962774/