GENERAL IDEA “CAPSULE” PAINTING, 1990
In 1967, General Idea was founded in Toronto by AA Bronson (b. 1946), Felix Partz (1945-1994), and Jorge Zontal (1944-1994). Over the course of 25 years, they made a significant contribution to postmodern and conceptual art in Canada and beyond.
The group was both prolific and multi-disciplinary long before it became de rigueur. They worked across a wide range of media including photography, sculpture, painting, mail art, video, installations, multiples, and performance.
With their subversive approach and interest in parody and appropriation, General Idea addressed a broad range of social (and art-world) issues such as the cult of the artist, mass media, queer identity, and consumerism.
At the onset of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, the illness (and the apathy/ignorance toward it) became a dominant theme in their work.
During this period, pills and capsules became a critical and omnipresent part of daily life for Partz and Zontal, who were both treated for the disease before their death in 1994.
Their frustration and skepticism towards the pharmaceutical industry, namely the astronomical costs of treating the illness and the apparent sluggishness in launching medications, became a focal point in their oeuvre and served as an avenue to investigate the industry and the individual's dependence on their production.
The pill became a recurring trope in their critique of the response to the AIDS crisis and was realized in a multitude of iterations. Included here is an in-situ photograph from the 2023/2024 General Idea retrospective at The Gropius Bau, Berlin, featuring "Green (Permanent) Placebo" 1991.
Set on a muted mauve background, the "Capsule" painting displays a diagonal pill completed in shades of florescent pink and red. The pared-back composition is indicative of General Idea's work from the 1990s when their output became notably sleek and minimal.
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Fluorescent paint on paper mounted on purple silk
Inscribed, signed, and dated, verso
15"W 15"H 3"D (work)
Very good condition
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