Francisco-Fernando Granados, who claims abstraction?, 2023, Installation, digital image printed on vinyl. Courtesy the artist. Photos: Rachel Topham Photography.
Francisco-Fernando Granados: who claims abstraction?
January 20, 2023 – February 10, 2024
Francisco-Fernando Granados’ artistic practice queries the many ways in which spatial histories can be embodied. Teck Gallery, a space familiar to the artist during his time as a newcomer and student in Vancouver, is transformed through his installation of diptych murals positioned parenthetically around the waterfront view near the Port of Vancouver. Granados’ background in performance and media art has evolved to include a daily drawing practice. Here at Teck Gallery, his exercises in line-work and chromatic relationships expand to comprise an installation of digital prints on vinyl, at a scale that becomes immersive.
Introducing the artwork with a primary and open-ended question, who claims abstraction?, Granados’ compositions draw upon iconic Modernist optical strategies such as chromatic vibrations, hard-edged forms, and graphic lines. His deliberate intersection with Modernist archetypes explores the legacies of abstraction to interrogate those Western twentieth-century artistic pursuits that claimed sovereignty over line, colour, and form.
Granados positions his work as in dialogue with but not defined by the tenets of Modernist abstract art. He has developed the idea of “minor abstraction” as a way to guide his compositions away from Modernism’s claims of autonomy and purity. “Forms of minor abstraction emphasize ephemeral materials, site-specific approaches, and non-art contexts,” the artist suggests. “They seek to infuse geometric visual vocabularies with an open-ended politics.”
In addition to the digital murals at Teck Gallery, Francisco-Fernando Granados’ inquiry and research into Modernist abstraction extends into a parallel exhibition of works from the SFU Art Collection, at SFU Gallery, Burnaby (January 19 – May 13, 2023), and SFU Belzberg Library, Vancouver (June 8 – December 16, 2023), which features notable Modernist works in conversation with those of feminist artists, queer artists, and artists of colour. These “echoes” aim to open possibilities for exploring and interrogating the potentialities of abstraction today.
Curated by Kimberly Phillips and Kristy Trinier
Francisco-Fernando Granados (he/him) was born in Guatemala and lives in Toronto, the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat Peoples. Since 2005, his practice has traced his movement from convention refugee to critical citizen, using abstraction performatively, site-specifically, and relationally, to create projects that challenge the stability of practices of recognition. His work has developed from the intersection of formal painterly training at Langara College, working in performance through artist-run spaces, studies in queer and feminist theory at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, and early activism as a peer support worker with immigrant and refugee communities in Vancouver, New Westminster, and Surrey on unceded Coast Salish territories. This layering of experiences has trained his intuitions to seek site-responsive approaches, alternative forms of distribution, and the weaving of lyrical and critical propositions.
Recent projects include foreward (2021-23), a solo exhibition consisting of site specific installations in dialogue with the permanent collection at The MacLaren Art Centre in Barrie; refugee reconnaissance (2021), a bilingual compilation of performance scores spanning 2005-2013 published by AXENÉO7; duet (2019-20) a traveling two-person exhibition alongside Canadian modernist painter Jack Bush in collaboration with the Art Gallery of Peterborough and The Robert McLaughlin Gallery; and co-respond-dance Version II (2020), an artist book published in collaboration with Centre des arts actuels Skol in Montreal. Other exhibition highlights include a performance installation in partnership with Third Space Gallery and the YMCA Newcomer Connections Centre in St. John New Brunswick, public art installations for Mercer Union and Nuit Blanche in Toronto, and participation in international group shows on contemporary queer aesthetics at the Hessel Museum and Ramapo College in the United States and Malmö Konstmuseum in Sweden.
His writing has been published in books including Other Places: Reflections on Media Arts in Canada, as well as exhibition catalogues, magazines, and art journals like Canadian Art, C Magazine, Canadian Theatre Review, FUSE, and PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art. Awards and honours include grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Toronto and Ontario Arts Councils, and the Governor General’s Silver Medal for academic achievement upon graduating from Emily Carr University in 2010. He completed a Masters of Visual Studies at the University of Toronto in 2012 and has taught art and theory in various capacities at OCAD University and University of Toronto Scarborough. In 2022, Granados began a PhD in Media & Design Innovation at Toronto Metropolitan University.