Residing and dealing collectively within the counterculture of the late Sixties in Toronto, AA Bronson (born Michael Tims in 1946 in Vancouver), Felix Partz (born Ronald Gabe in 1945 in Winnipeg, died in 1994) and Jorge Zontal (born Slobodan Saia-Levy in Parma in 1944, died in 1994), formalized their collaboration in 1969 beneath the title Basic Thought. From their first initiatives, such because the group of the 1970 Miss Basic Thought Pageant, to their activist initiatives round AIDS, Basic Thought has explored all media and developed a follow that questions on a regular basis tradition and its repressions. A serious retrospective of Basic Thought is at the moment circulating from the Nationwide Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, to the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, after which to the Gropius Bau, Berlin.
The group’s drawings are much less well-known and lots of of them have by no means even been exhibited. The 250 drawings gathered right here have been all produced by Jorge Zontal, who had developed a daily follow, particularly through the collective’s day by day conferences. The collective design of the signature inside Basic Thought and as evidenced by the “GI” monogram affixed to the sheets by Zontal shortly earlier than his demise, makes all designs a Basic Thought manufacturing. The drawings tackle better regularity and a extra secure type because the group strikes from Toronto, which appeared more and more remoted on the world artwork scene, to New York. All through the Nineteen Eighties, the joie de vivre expressed by the collective was overshadowed by the AIDS disaster. This era is marked, based on AA Bronson, by “confronting and integrating the sickness and demise of most of our pals, in addition to Jorge and Felix themselves.” A set of works produced within the context of AIDS are additionally introduced in a number of adjoining rooms, notably AIDS (Nauman) which has not been proven since its creation in 1991.
The exhibition of drawings and the accompanying publication have been titled Ecce Homo to echo the eponymous 1923 work by German artist George Grosz, as a result of, based on AA Bronson, “the anti-Semitism current within the narrative of Grosz refers back to the homophobia of ours.” Struggling is perceptible in a variety of drawings, just like the holey or deformed figures of a set of sheets or the most recent compositions wherein Jorge Zontal, who was going blind, represented the black spots in entrance of his eyes like so many cockroaches. These darkish traits coexist with lighter moments, because the acquainted figures of Basic Thought’s lexicon (excessive heels, heraldic symbols, hanging lips, and mischievous poodles) seem.
Though drawn by hand, the precept of repetition of sure motifs in these drawings remembers Basic Thought’s penchant for mechanical copy and echoes the idea of the “image-virus” of their work round AIDS. By their mutability and their rhythm, these drawings open a brand new window within the follow of Basic Thought, underlining the position of those representations to formulate private, social and political questions.
at MAMCO, Genève
till June 18, 2023