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A very full summer for José Luis Torres

September 2017

With a solo exhibit and a series of 5 semi-permanent sculptural artistic installations in the public space, artist José Luis Torres is concluding a fruitful, diversified stint of presentations. 

First, his Tour de force, a large-scale outdoor work, was created especially for the 50th anniversary of the Maison des arts Desjardins in Drummondville. A major intervention made from a multitude of doors and windows of all styles and bright colours, it invites visitors to reflect and raise questions on the notion of diversity. The work uses a pattern of unity, formed from multiplicity. Diversity is taken as a source of unity, in coherence with the collective process that gives birth to societies. 

During the same period, Torres’ solo exhibit Bûcher des vanités was presented at the Galerie d'art of the Maison des arts Desjardins in Drummondville. The body of works for this exhibition is made of assemblies emerging from seemingly simple manipulations that question the identity of the objects they use. They result in a loss of landmarks, playing on the confusion of the perception. This passage from the familiar to the strange is corollary to a reflection on the objects of our everyday surroundings. 

In July, Torres unveiled La cible at the Harbourside Park in St-John’s, Newfoundland. The public artwork, commissioned by Cadillac Canada to commemorate Canada’s 150th anniversary, is an interpretation of the accuracy of the clock movement and time itself. The creation is also a tribute to Sandford Fleming, a Scottish-Canadian engineer, who suggested the standard time zone system on an international level in 1879. 

Back in the Atlantic region and inspired by the sometimes opposing bounds between nature and culture, Torres has created In Nature on the façade of the building of the Rivière-des-Prairies public library in Montréal. Made mostly from wooden sticks painted in green, the work represents a structure that resembles the shape of a bed of grass. A hiding place and an observatory, a shelter and a nest, this transit space takes us back to universal needs of the human nature tied to the notions of safety, of tight wrap and habitat. 

Soon afterwards, the artist created and set up Démesure at the Maison de la culture de Pointe-aux-Trembles in Montréal. Playfully, with a touch of irony, this installation gathers an impressive number of colourful objects of our familiar surroundings. The work faces the visitor with the notions of expansion and excess. His polymorphous configuration, with its vivid colours, is quickly perceived by the public as attractive and playful. Yet, one can detect a more troubling aspect to it, as if it posed a potential threat. 

Later on, the work Constellation was presented by the artist within the temporary public art exhibition Métissage. This project designed for the promenade Fleuve-Montagne is part of the legacy of the city of Montréal’s 375th anniversary.  

“A visual configuration that speaks of our immediacy; of all the new communication platforms that allow us to keep in touch; of these so-called communicating pieces of content that we have become; and most certainly of exchanges, which smartphones allow us to operate as long as we navigate the signs of their systems. The figure is made of luminous boxes that represent communication icons such as emails, text messages or Messenger. The adopted configuration is a constellation of stars, another sign of a random trajectory that allows a certain gestalt, adopted to localise the earth, its orientation and its own trajectory around the sun.” Stéphane Bertrand, exhibition curator.  

Most of these works will remain accessible to the public in October and November 2017.

Three solo exhibitions by José Luis Torres

June 2017

With two solo exhibitions in Ontario and a third one in British-Columbia, artist José Luis Torres has just opened a new series of fruitful, diversified projects.

In Ottawa, from April 7 to May 20, his exhibition Fantasmes has been opened to the public at the Ottawa School of Art Orleans Campus Gallery of the Shenkman Arts Centre. His assemblies convey the playful spirit of numerous diverted objects. In this exhibition, the artist analyses the function of these objects in our culture’s human activities. All the while, he highlights how these objects are also the means by which we access representations of ourselves. Manipulated, gathered together, transformed, they become works that confront visitors and invite them to question the impact of their daily actions.

In British-Columbia from April 29 to June 3, Torres was invited by the Arnica Artist Run Centre in Kamloops, where he presented The eloquences of the objects. This exhibition took the form of a site-specific installation made from material found on the public roads. Tied together, stacked, propped against each other, a multitude of objects were integrated into a sculptural set-up, in a balancing act skillfully achieved through tension and fulcrums. Like nomads, visitors wandered inside this universe in construction – or in deconstruction – on an unfinished path. 

Back in Ontario, the artist created the exhibition De l'horizontal au vertical at the Karsh-Masson Gallery in Ottawa, from May to June 11. “De l'horizontal au vertical (From Horizontal to Vertical) provides José Luis Torres with an opportunity to fill the Karsh-Masson Gallery with his personal vision and produce a newly imagined environment. The reconfigured gallery displays both the process and the result of an exercise in cartography whereby the artist maps his own reality. His way of occupying space; his approach to the transformation, presentation and manipulation of objects; even the materials he works with are all important markers of his artistic universe. After all, although site-specific art provides a clearer window into an artist’s thought process, thereby supporting a more faithful representation of reality, this reality remains steeped in subjectivity.”, writes Céline Le Merlus in the catalogue of the exhibition.

With these three exhibitions, the artist carries on his reflection on the interaction between the visitors and his works. Transforming spectators into actors of his installations, José Luis Torres pushes them at the center of the stage, and turns them into subjects of the works.

Photo Credit: City of Ottawa