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Francis Alÿs (b. 1959)
signed 'F. Alÿs' (on the reverse of the smaller element)
diptych--oil on canvas mounted on panel and enamel on sheet metal
smaller element: 11 1/8 x 8½ in. (28.2 x 21.5 cm.)
larger element: 47½ x 36¼ in. (120.6 x 92 cm.)
Executed in 1996. (2)
Lisson Gallery, London

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Sara Friedlander
Sara Friedlander

Lot Essay

"I started playing with still images in the spring of 1993...I began combining a man in a suit with a piece of furniture or some object, subjecting the body of the protagonist to a range of physically feasible relations of weight, balance, tension etc. The style of these paintings was directly borrowed from painted advertisements encountered in my neighborhood...By the summer of 1993 I had completed a first body of paintings. I commissioned various sign-painters to produce enlarged copies of my original images." (F. Alÿs, quoted in M. Godfry, K. Biesenbach and K. Greenberg, Francis Al: A Story of Deception, exh cat., New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2010.)

Francis Alÿs stands out as one of the most important conceptual artists working today. His work, which includes both ephemeral and permanent elements and spans many different mediums, acts as a way to both understand and connect humans through shared actions despite differences of place and societal hierarchies. Most prominently, the act of walking has driven the artist's body of work. Through walking, a seemingly simple and straightforward movement, Alÿs has created artworks absorbed from his surroundings and deposited in the space around him, most often in Mexico City. It was following his series of public performances in this city that the artist turned to his Sign-Painters Project.

The present lot is a remarkable example of this practice. The anonymous figure's unbroken connection between both the chair and vase is seemingly natural, but upon closer inspection prompts an unlucky occurrence. These compositional elements are enlarged in the "copied" work. As this series is created in part by local sign-painters, they naturally echo the style of the commercial advertisements found throughout Mexico City and serve to further document the artist's intimate experiences of the conditions of areas of city. Through Untitled, the artist continues to illustrate his meditation on interjecting the unexpected into the viewer's consciousness.

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