The exhibition Fabiola, organized by the Museo Reina Sofía, is comprised of some three hundred works belonging to the artist’s collection. This exhibition could be seen last year at the Dia Art Foundation of New York and has been shown recently at the National Portrait Gallery in London, making its next stop at Silos. The exhibition’s point of departure is found in a work whose whereabouts are currently unknown: Fabiola in a Red Veil by French painter Jean’Jacques Henner (1829-1905), which represents the figure of St. Fabiola who lived in Rome around the fourth century. Over the years, Francis Alÿs has amassed numerous works by different artists who have depicted the Christian saint using highly diverse materials. With his collection, Alÿs aims at lending creative legitimacy to anonymous objects, an inherent characteristic in the artist’s own production and research on collecting.
After studying engineering and architecture in Belgium and Venice, Francis Alÿs moved to Mexico City where he has lived since the late 1980s. One of the world’s most enormous and chaotic metropolises, Mexico City serves as a paradigmatic stage for contemporary urban culture, which the artist views as an immense, open-air laboratory. Alÿs’s oeuvre constitutes an eclectic repertoire of painting, photography, video art and performance. Alÿs has participated in numerous group exhibitions, among them NowHere at the Louisiana Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark (1996) and Antechamber at Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (1997). Highlighted among his individual exhibitions are those held at the Museum of Modern Art, Mexico City (1997) and Francis Alÿs: The Poet and the Fly, exhibited at the Museo Reina Sofía in 2003.
Peter Fischli / David Weiss, Are Animals People’ Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain