Michael Snow
Clothed Woman (In Memory of my Father) 1963
oil and lucite on canvas
152 x 386.2 cm
Purchased 1966
National Gallery of Canada

The National Gallery of Canada celebrates A Day Without Art on Sunday, 1 December 2002

Ottawa, Canada - November 27, 2002


« Le Musée des beaux-arts du Canada célèbre Un jour sans art le dimanche 1er décembre 2002 »

 This year the National Gallery of Canada commemorates A Day Without Art with a tribute to the work of the contemporary artists' group General Idea; two of the three founding members of the group, Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal, died of AIDS-related illnesses in 1994. This is also a tribute to the surviving member, AA Bronson, who courageously continues despite his great loss.

A Day Without Art is an international day of action and mourning in response to the AIDS crisis. Every year on 1 December, World AIDS Day, art institutions around the world honour visual artists who live with or have died of AIDS.

This selection of drawings by Jorge Zontal produced between 1986 and 1993 feature a number of different subjects: they portray cartoon characters, Tibetan death masks and images of cockroaches. During his 25 years with General Idea, Zontal drew prolifically, and on anything at hand, including napkins, scraps of paper and books.

Once he was diagnosed HIV positive in 1990, a profusion of cockroaches and other intruders became more prominent in his drawings. Zontal's eyesight collapsed rapidly over a period of four weeks before Christmas 1993. Black floaters, spots that move about in eyesight, started filling more and more of his vision until they blocked it completely. According to AA Bronson, in Zontal's last drawings on pages of a Moore paint sample book, "the black floaters became a crowd of cockroaches attacking the normality of postwar domestic reality with a war of its own. As the AIDS virus invaded his brain and destroyed his eyesight, Jorge launched his own attack with an army of black floaters disguised as cockroaches."

Jorge Zontal died on February 3, 1994, just after his fiftieth birthday.

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