AV Festival 10 launched in Middlesbrough with the preview of a new exhibition by Felix Gonzalez-Torres and William McKeown at mima, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art.
A Certain Distance, Endless Light brings together two extraordinary artists, Cuban-born American artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres, and Irish artist William McKeown. Both artists’ work answers the theme of energy in different ways, through personal pursuits of beauty, happiness and freedom.
Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957–96) is one of the most respected artists of his generation, known for his quiet, minimal installations that explore shifting distinctions between public and private spheres. He is renowned for developing an interactive art that can be taken away by the public. His signature paper stacks and spills of edible sweets are generous gifts whilst his illuminated light bulb strings create an overwhelming sensory phenomena. His work is known for its formal beauty, sensitivity and openness to interpretation by the viewer.
William McKeown (b 1962) is highly regarded for his paintings, drawings and watercolours that express a concern about our relationship with nature. He is interested in the sky and air that moves around us, in particular the emergence of daylight as experienced in the morning hours. With a remarkable refined sense of colour and understanding of natural light, his work is poetic, expansive and captures the essence of a place and time. It strives for openness, acceptance and a new democratic space bridging distances between time and people.
Felix Gonzalez-Torres was born in Guáimaro, Cuba, in 1957. He earned a BFA in photography from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, in 1983. Printed Matter, Inc. in New York hosted his first solo exhibition the following year. From 1987 to 1991, he was part of Group Material, a New York–based art collective whose members worked collaboratively to initiate community education and cultural activism. Gonzalez-Torres received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1989 and 1993. He participated in hundreds of group shows during his lifetime, including early presentations at Artists Space and White Columns in New York (1987 and 1988, respectively); the Whitney Biennial, New York (1991); the Venice Biennale (1993); SITE Santa Fe (1995); and the Sydney Biennial (1996). He died in Miami on January 9, 1996.
William McKeown, was born in Tyrone, Ireland, 1962, and lived and worked in Edinburgh. In the 16 years since he first exhibited at the Kerlin Gallery, McKeown developed a body of work that had a radical effect on our understanding of the relationship of art to nature. His paintings took on the guise of objective minimalism, but presented us with nature as something real, tangible, all around us, to be touched and felt. Solo exhibitions include Inverleith House, Edinburgh 2012; Kerlin Gallery 1999, 2002 and 2012; Douglas Hyde Gallery Dublin 2001; Ormeau Baths Gallery Belfast 2002 and 2010; Project Arts Centre Dublin, 2003; and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin 2008. In 2005 he was in a group exhibition representing N.Ireland at the Venice Biennale. He died in Edinburgh on October 25, 2011.
Co-curated and produced by AV Festival 10 and mima, Middlesbrough.