I never met artist Robert Flack, but I find myself overwhelmed and speechless when it comes to the photographic works he left behind. His body has disappeared, but his cosmology and brilliance can be found in his seminal work Love Mind, which will be displayed as part of a larger exhibit called Generations of Queer at OCAD University.
This series of 24 photographs, taken in 1992, was among the final artworks Flack created — he died in 1993 at the age of 36 of an AIDS-related illness. Flack used a unique and time-consuming process to create Love Mind, before the advent of digital photography, painting and illustration; the hand of the artist can be felt in the work. Love Mind still exudes an exciting energy and urgency, as if the works were just created.
Love Mind was last exhibited in Toronto at Paul Petro Contemporary Art, in spring 2012; owner Paul Petro manages the art from Flack’s estate. “Flack’s work is an enduring testament to the universal themes of loss and transcendence that we all have a stake in,” he says.
Curator Lisa Deanne Smith is excited to include Love Mind in Generations of Queer, which is part of Toronto’s WorldPride celebration. Work by three other Toronto artists influenced by age, gender, histories, health, survival and process will also be on display: John Greyson, Elisha Lim and Kiley May.
“The work is very conceptual and physical in that the stories told are through the body of the viewer,” Smith says. “The brain will tell you one thing, but your body will tell you something else. The four artists [included in Generations of Queer] explore how you can live beyond this world, live in any world that you can imagine and create.
“[With Love Mind] I think Flack removed all language because language makes the work less than it is. He found life beyond his body and beyond language.”