who claims abstraction? Echoes from the SFU Art Collection. Installation documentation, SFU Gallery, 2023. Photos: Rachel Topham Photography. Image descriptions of the exhibition documentation are available below under 'Support Materials'

who claims abstraction? Echoes from the SFU Art Collection

Jack Bush
Francisco-Fernando Granados
Corita Kent
Roy Kenzie Kiyooka
Gary Lee-Nova
Rita Letendre
Attila Richard Lukács
Michael Morris

January 20 – May 13, 2023
SFU Gallery

Francisco-Fernando Granados’ research for his 2023 solo exhibition at Teck Gallery, who claims abstraction?, opens an inquiry into the legacies and implications of Modernist abstraction. This attendant exhibition is presented at SFU Gallery and then at the Belzberg Library and will feature notable Modernist works in conversation with feminist and queer artists, including artists Jack Bush, Corita Kent, Roy Kenzie Kiyooka, Rita Letendre, Michael Morris, amongst others.

Granados’ research into the SFU Art Collection in the early phases of the development of his large-scale, diptych mural, frequently referred to the optical experimentation, architectural linework, and gestural reverberations of colour studies found in these works, primarily produced in the period of the early 1960s to late 1980s. Granados’ findings, however, challenge Modernist claims of purity, autonomy, and absolutism, refuting limitations of the works.

who claims abstraction? Echoes from the SFU Art Collection demonstrates that there are inclusive and ever-changing possibilities of encounter located within artworks, which still actively engage viewers in discourse while echoing relevance towards contemporaneous practices of artists, such as that of Francisco-Fernando Granados.


Curated by Kimberly Phillips and Kristy Trinier with lead artist Francisco-Fernando Granados.


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, Vers (2022), an action-based collaboration with NY-based artist Jonathan VanDyke at MassArt in Boston, duet (2019) 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,' 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.