by Bianka Pineda
Felix Gonzalez-Torres was once described to me as a giving artist whose art is about love. When I came across his piece “Untitled” (Last Light) in the Walker collection, I understood how apt this description is. The object itself is very simple; a set of 24 low-watt bulbs on a string, something you might see at Christmas.
The association with Christmas lights is not far from the effect it has in the gallery: the soft light warms an otherwise cold and sterile environment. Currently the string is hung ceiling to floor in a corner that includes a window within the exhibition Absentee Landlord. The light is at once reflected, offering life to the mute gallery space, and, at the same time, shining out and connecting to the world beyond the museum. The second part of the title, (Last Light), could be an allusion to the practice of lighting a candle in remembrance of a lost one. The light may be a reference to the artist’s own mortality (or even the viewer’s) or to Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ life partner, Ross, whom he lost to AIDS and included in his works of art. Knowing the importance Ross had in the artist’s life, it’s not hard to imagine that the warmth of the lights is imbued with Gonzalez-Torres’ unrelenting love.
You can find another work by Gonzalez-Torres currently on view at the Walker in the exhibition This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s. The piece is called “Untitled” (Perfect Lovers). You can see an image of it on the MCA Chicago’s website.
About the author: Bianka Pineda is a Walker Art Center tour guide.
Viewfinder posts are your opportunity to “show & tell” about the everyday arts happenings, interesting sights and sounds made or as seen by Minnesota artists, because art is where you find it. Submit your own informal, first-person responses to the art around you to katie(at)mnartists.org, and we may well publish your piece here on the blog. (Guidelines: 300 words or less, not about your own event/work, and please include an image, media, video, or audio file, and one sentence about yourself.)