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...I spend a lot of time walking around the city...An initial concept for a project often emerges during a walk. As an artist, my position is akin to that of a passer-by constantly trying to situate myself in a moving environment. My work is a succession of notes and guides. The invention of a language goes together with the invention of a city. Each of my interventions is another fragment of the story that I am inventing… –Francis Alÿs
Francis Alÿs is one of the most important young artists working in Mexico today. While Alÿs is known internationally for his collaborative works with sign painters or rotulistas and for his performance walking projects, he has been quietly making modest paintings, sculptures, drawings, installations and videos. He recently completed a major project for INSITE97, San Diego and has exhibited at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art; Humlebaek, Denmark and the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London. Alÿs will be representing Mexico in the forthcoming São Paulo Biennial.
His upcoming exhibition entitled le temps du sommeil at the Contemporary Art Gallery will feature recent diaristic paintings, sculptures, drawings and a video projection completed in the last two years. Much in these works draws on the artist's previous projects.
Le temps du sommeil (1996-98) is an important work consisting of approximately 100 small-scale oil paintings (each 4.33 inches by 5.90 inches [11 by 15 centimetres]) composed of figures (and sometimes dogs) engaged in various actions, some of which the artist has previously performed, such as walking with leaking tin of paint and walking with a rod balanced upright in the palm of the hand, and others that record scenes from performances or actions he has imagined. The figures are often depicted within a landscape circumscribed by a brown undercoat. This other surface holds residues of notes and drawings from the artists' sketchbook together with the date the panel was completed.
Alÿs's two tiny sculptures The Modernist (1998) and La barbe de Courbet (1998) appear to have stepped out of the panels into the three-dimensional world. While the video animates one of le temps du sommeil’s pregnant moments.
Guest curated by Kitty Scott