The Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami hosts a presentation of paintings by Francis Alÿs based on three important multipanel works in the museum’s permanent collection. The artist’s “Sign Painting Project” series (1993–97), one of his first important bodies of work, involves his close collaboration with three commercial sign makers in Mexico City who copied, enlarged, or otherwise interpreted his original paintings. Alÿs in turn made new versions of his paintings based on these interpretations, calling into question the final works’ authorship and value. This body of work is typical to Alÿs for its deft navigation of social and economic factors. Reflecting on the declining art of commercial sign painting in a digital and hyper-capitalist age, the artist considers the culture of image making and disrupts the market, redistributing value to traditional image makers.
Francis Alÿs (b. 1959, Antwerp, Belgium) is an interdisciplinary conceptual artist working in installation, video, painting, drawing, photography, and performance to address issues of geopolitical and social conflict in urban environments. Trained as an architect, Alÿs moved to Mexico City in 1986, where he began making public performance works as meditations on the experience of urban living. These interventions into urban space reflect conditions of dynamic unrest among communities living on Latin American borders.
Alÿs’s solo exhibitions at major international institutions include the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo; Tate Modern, London; Wiels Centre d’Art Contemporain, Brussels; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. His work belongs to the permanent collections of, among many others, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Art Institute of Chicago; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. The artist lives and works in Mexico City.