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Francesc Torres (Barcelona, 1948) worked as an apprentice in his father’s printing workshop and trained as a graphic artist. In those years, the poverty of the cultural and artistic scene in the Spanish dictatorship stimulated many artists to leave the country: Paris and New York were the most desirable destinations. In 1967, Francesc Torres moved to Paris to continue his studies at the Ecole des BeauxArts and he became an assistant to the artist Piotr Kowalski. During this time, he began producing non-functional, industrial work that followed the strategies of Minimalism in its formal and material basis. Yet, the tumultuous events of May 1968 redirected his activities and he worked on posters for the movement of workers and students until it collapsed under the force of de Gaulle’s conservative government. He moved back to Spain to do his military service, something, which as he stated, provided him with “first-hand insight into military behaviour as well as a great deal of information for my subsequent work”. Shortly after, he moved to Chicago and then to New York, where he has lived since 1974. He has had numerous solo exhibitions in institutions such as the International Center of Photography (New York), the Museo nacional centro de arte Reina Sofía (Madrid), the Institut Valencia d’Art Modern (Valencia), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, List Visual Arts Center (Cambridge, USA), Sala Rekalde (Bilbao), Arizona State University Art Museum (Tempe, Arizona), Queens Museum of Art (New York) and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art (Ithaca, New York).

Living a political exile, the social repression that Torres encountered during the Franco regime influenced his later artistic production. The artist took a local conflict as a paradigm: the Spanish Civil War and the dictatorship as an expression of universal and timeless violence. This thematic line has continued until the present, and is expressed in works such as Residual Regions (1978), Belchite/ South Bronx: A Trans-Cultural and Trans-Historical Landscape (1988) and Oscura es la habitación donde dormimos (2007).

Torres associates the familiar experience of resistance against fascism and the Franco dictatorship with the problem of collective memory and the major role of the war as an expression of the confrontation between ideologies. He considers speed as a condition of the battle, competition as sublimation of enmity in times of peace, and the symbols and signs of masculinity as expressions of threatening, dominating and destructive armament… Later, he turns back towards archaic symbols and archaeological remains that denote civilisation and lack of civilisation, speaking of the rationality or irrationality rooted in human beings.

Antonia M. Perelló, Curator and Head of the Collection at Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona