Francis Alÿs

Galería Ramis Barquet

The twin series of paintings in Francis Alÿs’ recent gallery show probably originated as illustrations to the urban interventions he executed after moving to Mexico City from Belgium five years ago. While the spirit of those ephemeral pieces swiftly spread among the work of many young Mexican artists—including that of Gabriel Orozco—Alÿs’ paintings evolved into works that defamiliarize our viewing habits.

In “The Liar,” 1993–94—a series of strangely delicate paintings in resin, wax, and oil—an archetypal clerk in a standard gray suit is the agent of seemingly incoherent actions and situations. Awkwardly but forthrightly rendered over muddy, monochromatic backgrounds, this Magritte-like character sits on a bed holding pillows under his arms and between his legs in one work; arranges food and dinnerware on a table in a precarious circle, in another; and, in yet another, blindly pats that same

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