Candy: Felix Gonzalez-Torres | Damien Hirst
The exhibition brings together Gonzales-Torres’ famous minimalistic installations mirroring Hirst’s abstract paintings from his ‘Visual Candy’ series.
Blain|Southern gallery held an exclusive exhibition this year, showcasing works created in the early 1990s from the late Felix Gonzales-Torres and Britain artist Damien Hirst. The exhibition brings together Gonzales-Torres’ famous minimalistic installations mirroring Hirst’s abstract paintings from his ‘Visual Candy’ series. The audience was able to touch and take the candy, while altering but not destroying the work.
Hirst once said that ‘art is about life – there isn’t anything else.’ Gonzalez-Torres’ work closely agrees with Hirst’s statement as most of this wok explores personal life, relationships and identity with socio-political issues of public and private space.
Felix Gonzalez-Torres is well-known for his installations and sculptures that utilised common materials such as light bulbs, clocks, paper and candies. Born in 1957, Gonzalez-Torres died in Miami in 1996 but his work is included in the permanent collections of major institutions such as The Museum of Mordern Art, NY and the Museum of Contemporary Art, LA.
Damien Hirst is well-known to be one of the world’s most successful contemporary artists. Born in 1965, the public started to pay attention to him in London in 1988 when he conceived and curated the exhibition Freeze. Hirst has become one of the most influential artists of his generation and has works in numerous permanent collections including Tate Modern, London and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC.
Gonzalez-Torres presents Untitled (1992), where hundreds of individually wrapped candy are strewn across the floor and piled up in mountains. This work is an interactive piece, where visitors can actively participate, freely choosing to touch, take or consume the candy, engaging in a multisensory experience. The idea behind the work is to learn to let go of the idea of permanence and that the work can be manifested repeatedly in different forms and continually change shape through every presentation, therefore making the form a constant state of flux.
The show also exhibits Hirst’s Visual Candy paintings (1993 – 1995) and Gonzalez-Torres’ candy spill work acts as a counterpoint to the paintings. The Visual Candy Paintings are mucky oil paint splodges of varying sizes on canvas, a bit like squashed Spot Painting. While supposedly abstract, the paintings are meant to depict medicinal pills that can be seen and a depiction of the psychological effects of happy, mood enhancing drugs. Like every drug, Hirst describes how, ‘in every painting there is a subliminal sense of unease… the colours project so much joy it’s hard to feel it, but it’s there. The horror underlying everything.’ Therefore, despite the bright and optimistic colours, the painting carries a sort of tension and darkness that comes alone with the inevitable low that follows any high.
The exhibition brings two brilliant artists together to bring life to art and showcases the ways in which each artist used the signifier of candy during the 1990s to explore the questions of pure aesthetics and identity.