Interview with Luis Jacob

Interview with Luis Jacob (L.J) by Phil Anderson (P.A.)
Offical unveiling: Friday, May 18, 5 – 5:30 p.m.

Luis Jacob in front of his panels. Photo: Phil Anderson

P.A: You have lived in Parkdale for some time.  Has this shaped the work that you have done?

L.J: I believe that all artists work in relation to their life experiences.  Certainly having lived in Parkdale for more than ten years – a neighbourhood populated by people from many different cultures – has influenced my work.

The “Spirits of the Grotto”, Dufferin Underpass. Photo: Luis Jacob

The project at the Dufferin Underpass is titled “Spirits of the Grotto”.  It consists of 34 panels that look like a series of large masks.  Each panel has two colourful “eyes”; together they look like spirits residing inside the walls of the tunnel and watching us as we make our way inside.  I imagine that some of these masks will remind people of the fabulous costumes of the Caribana parade, or the demons depicted in Tibetan silk paintings.  Some panels feature depictions of mirror balls, which remind me of places like the Beaver Café, Stone’s Place, and Wrongbar, on Queen Street West.

The “Spirits of the Grotto”, Dufferin Underpass. Photo: Luis Jacob

P.A: How do you feel the work connects with the Parkdale Community?

L.J: I hope that people will bring their own perspectives to the ways they experience the artwork.  To this end, it was important for me that each mask be endowed with a distinct personality.  I hope people who live in the area will form unique relationships with the various “spirits”.

P.A: This art work at the Dufferin Bridge underpass has been a big project.  Is the final work what you had visualized?

L.J: It was always my goal to make a work of public art that was not innocuous.  This was one thing that was foremost in my mind during the two years it took to fabricate this work.

P.A: This project had some collaborations in terms of design and creating the mosaic can you tell us more about these.

L.J: I worked in with two amazing teams of people, one in Montreal and the other in Toronto.  The metalwork was done by the folks at Punchclock Studio, on Sorauren, who developed a totally ingenious design for the metal structure.  In Montreal I worked with the folks at Mosaika, who produced the beautiful glasswork.  I was honoured to work with such dedicated pros!

The “Spirits of the Grotto”, Dufferin Underpass. Photo: Luis Jacob

P.A: Does this project feel very different from your other art work?

L.J: I don’t believe that “Spirits of the Grotto” differs in any essential way from my other works.  One important difference, of course, is that fact that this work is sited outdoors as a permanent work of public art.  This certainly brings new complexity to the project, in terms of logistics and audience.

The “Spirits of the Grotto”, Dufferin Underpass. Photo: Luis Jacob

P.A: What new projects/exhibitions do you have in the works?

L.J: I am looking forward to taking part in the “Oh Canada” exhibition at MASS MoCA, in Massachusetts, with “Wildflowers of Manitoba”, a video installation made in collaboration with Noam Gonick.  Right now I am also working on a monograph catalogue of my work to be published by MOCCA in Toronto and the Darling Foundry in Montreal, in partnership with Black Dog Books in London.

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