Latitude 53


José Luis Torres | Mutations

April 10 – May 23, 2015

José Luis Torres 1.jpg

Opening reception | Friday, April 10 at 7 pm

Quebec resident and Argentina-born sculptor José Luis Torres brings Mutations to our Main Space this spring, featuring installations and sculptures inspired by the chaotic and organically- emergent suburbs in which he grew up. Incorporating a wide variety of local materials, including rugs, doors, and building supplies, Mutations explores the conceptual boundaries framing art, architecture, and environment. What intentionality and context are required before a house becomes a home, a block becomes a neighborhood, or a structure becomes a building? And if those intentions and contexts shift organically, how de we qualify the mutants they create?

Tiffany Shaw-Collinge on José Luis Torres’ ‘Mutations’

José Luis Torres’ work continually explores a transitional state of being, from a migration perspective, and has exhibited his “aesthetic of a fortuitous collector” broadly in Canada and almost a dozen countries. In the gallery the artist will reconfigure domestic objects with architectural effects in the interest of movement and time. The site-based work he creates incorporates random items that he says “carries with it a personal story, [with] its own identity, leaving its own trace.”

José Luis Torres’ installation creates artistic situations and architectural events: a metaphor for the environments and objects we encounter every day. His collections deploy abstract associations which question formal logic. By using an adaptive approach that operates similar to an underpainting technique, he uses the embedded memory found in the objects as a support in a canvas of arrangements which provide the viewer with a deeper narration of the work. The objects’ formal compositions of colour and texture bleed into one another, uplifting the history of its original intent–now found as a type of memento mori. Torres writes, “The manner in which the collection of items is randomly installed reminds us of the vanity that they represent, now captured in this still life.”

Latitude 53 has been collecting used items such as carpets and doors for the exhibition which Torres explains he will change into a “sculptural device, taking on a harmonious form, unified to produce something new.” This architectural expansion of the field, and the artistic expression of the objects combined together in the gallery, enable the discovery of understated connections and unknown relationships.

The boundaries framing the art, architecture and environment of Torres’ work create conversations–in the dissections, and additions of objects with regards to one another–without the specificity of one discipline. In the 1960s and 70s, Gianni Pettena, an Italian architect, talked about unarchitecttura (un-architecture) and American artist Allan Kaprow proposed destructing art and life with the figure of the un-artist1. It is here in this gallery that José Luis brings together the un-architecture with the un-artist by separating pictorial and architectural space.

The affective residuals that underlie the semiotic and symbolic operations of Torres’ arrangements create a deeper history of the objects when combined than when they were separate.

Without fully being sculptures, installations or still-lifes on their own, these arrangements oscillate between the dream and reality of natural and constructed space. This body of work employs tactics of dérive and détournement in the way that components were accumulated and assembled within the gallery. Torres’ emphasis on process and artifact creates situational ephemeras that have historical contexts. The repositioning of these objects, away from their traditional use and into passivity, enables Torres’ strategic intervention in favor of authentic life–and reminds us of our own overconsumption. The artist invites the viewer to engage with the work in a new way: that of urban interventions, with interactive nuances and sustainable subtexts.


Tiffany Shaw-Collinge is an artist and intern architect from Alberta. She received a BFA from NSCAD University with an interdisciplinary degree in film, painting, video, and sound, and graduated with distinction with a Masters in Architecture from the Southern California Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles. Shaw-Collinge has curated exhibitions in found spaces in Edmonton, and has exhibited work in galleries across Canada. She currently lives in Edmonton, Alberta.

  1. In Gianni Pettena’s early excursions to the mid west in the United States, he collaborated with a series of artists, designers and architects including Allan Kaprow and Robert Smithson to create environments, counter-events, happenings and land art in the late 1960s and early 1970s related to the Situationists, and theories surrounding unarchitecttura and the un-artist.

José Luis Torres was born in Argentina and has a Bachelor’s Degree in visual arts, a Master’s Degree in sculpture and training in architecture and integrating art with architecture. He has been living and working in Quebec since 2003. His work has been on display in more than thirty Canadian cities and almost a dozen different countries, and his pieces can be found in public and private collections around the world.