Luis Jacob: Without Persons



Oct 1, 2010
Public Program
Artist Lecture: Luis Jacob
Sep 16, 2010–Nov 13, 2010
Luis Jacob: Without Persons

Luis Jacob: Without Persons

Curated by Andria Hickey

Shahadi, Joseph, “Luis Jacob: Without Persons,” VS. THE POMEGRANATE (blog). Download PDF
Murray Whyte, “Luis Jacob: Ready for the World,” The Toronto Star. Download PDF
Blake Gopnik, “Gopnik’s Daily Pic: Luis Jacob’s Albums,” The Washington Post. Download PDF

Art in General is pleased to present Without Persons, an exhibition of new and recent works by Toronto-based artist Luis Jacob, including video, painting, and a new work from the artist’s Album series that will be on view from September 16 – November 13, 2010. Receiving increasingly wider recognition, Jacob’s work was first exhibited at Art in General as part of the group exhibition Explosion LTTR: Practice More Failure, in 2004. More recently, Jacob’s work has been included in Documenta 12 and has been the subject of recent solo exhibitions at the Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach; Kunstverein, Hamburg; and the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.

Over the past decade, Jacob’s diverse practice has addressed issues of social interaction and the subjectivity of aesthetic experience. Working in video, installation, sculpture and photography, as well as actions in the public sphere, Jacob’s work is often derived from research on a wide variety of subjects. In bringing together unlikely referents, Jacob invites a collision of meaning systems that destabilize our conventions of viewing and open up possibilities for participation and the creation of knowledge.

In the artist’s words, “what is essential for our experience of art—what is foundational—is the experience of non-intelligibility, a kind of dislocation. Aesthetic experience for us today is first of all an encounter with otherness, with strangeness: but an otherness that, crucially, is there demanding appropriation, intelligibility. What is so constructive about aesthetic experience is that it requires a creative act on the part of the viewer, an act of synthesis that is original through and through.”

The artist’s first solo exhibition in the U.S., Luis Jacob: Without Persons features a series of works that explore absence and authenticity in terms of pictorial representation, the legacy of modern art, and the self and others. These works call on the viewer to consider what may lie beneath the surface of the “empty picture,” and what new forms of real and unconscious knowledge may lay dormant in such minimal propositions.

The central installation, “Without Persons,” for which the exhibition is titled, is an immersive multimedia work that features two computer-generated voices, one male and one female, that talk about “being-in-the-city” and “being-with-others.” The adjacent images project an amorphous, plasma-like liquid, with abstract but seemingly bodily movement, as if animated by the artificial voices. As the liquid finds new forms in formlessness, the voices invite the viewer to consider the discord of the alien world without persons, and the coming to consciousness of an infant who knows no persons.

Jacob’s engagement with abstraction is also reflected in the exhibition through a series of paintings the artist made in response to an early suite of Mark Rothko paintings. Considering notions of authenticity and appropriation, Jacob reconstituted the original works using a staining technique on raw canvas for one series, and a vivid tie-dye technique, with two “eye holes” in the accompanying series of paintings.

Likewise, Jacob’s Album IX, newly created for this exhibition, intuitively reconstructs an uncanny narrative of recent art history. Album IX consists of dozens of images culled from a variety of books, magazines, and other publications. These images are montaged together in plastic-laminate panels, and hung sequentially in the gallery in the form of an “image bank”. Through processes of visual association, the images of Album IX compose a poetic narrative around various themes: reductivism in painting and the modernist tradition of creative rupture; base materialism and the aesthetic sublime; embodiment and the monochrome. Using imagery excised from published sources, Album IX becomes an invitation to construct associative narratives about artistic experience by means of the visual material that surrounds us in the expanded cultural environment. In the fall of 2010, Album IX will be published as an artist book by A Prior (Ghent, Belgium).

About the Artist

Luis Jacob’s work has been presented in numerous international group exhibitions including Haunted: Contemporary Photography/Video/Performance, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2010); Animism, Extra City Kunsthal Antwerp; Kunsthalle Bern (2010); Dance with Camera, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and the Contemporary Art Museum, Houston (2009-2010); If We Can’t Get It Together, The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto, Canada (2008); The Order of Things, Museum voor Hedendaagse Kunst, Antwerp (2008); and Documenta 12, Kassel (2007). His solo exhibitions include the Städtisches Museum Abteiberg of Mönchengladbach (2009), the Hamburg Kunstverein (2008); Platform Seoul, PKM Gallery, Seoul (2008); the Musée d’art de Joliette, Quebec (2008); the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery of the University of British Columbia (2007), and the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2005). In June 2010, Jacob presented the first of a three-part touring mid-career survey exhibition, Luis Jacob Tableaux: Pictures at an Exhibition, at the Darling Foundry in Montréal; the exhibition will travel to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Toronto and to Vancouver. Jacob lives and works in Toronto.


General support of Art in General is provided by General Tools & Instruments LLC; the Lambent Foundation Fund of the Tides Foundation; Abraham and Lillian Rosenberg Foundation; public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, celebrating 50 years of building strong, creative communities in New York State’s 62 counties; National Endowment for the Arts; Ralph E. Ogden Foundation; public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council; Jerome Foundation; Bloomberg; ConEdison; Cowles Charitable Trust; Foundation for Contemporary Arts; and by individuals.

Photo: They Sleep With One Eye Open series, installation view 2009. Image courtesy of
the artist and Birch Libralato, Toronto.


  • Shahadi, Joseph, “Luis Jacob: Without Persons,” VS. THE POMEGRANATE (blog). Download PDF
  • Murray Whyte, “Luis Jacob: Ready for the World,” The Toronto Star. Download PDF
  • Blake Gopnik, “Gopnik’s Daily Pic: Luis Jacob’s Albums,” The Washington Post. Download PDF