“General Idea made a series based on the art of the Dutch modern master Piet Mondrian. In the original Mondrian, there’s yellow in one corner. General Idea changed that little yellow bit in the corner to green, which is a colour that Mondrian never used. General Idea introduced green to Mondrian’s iconic colour scheme of red, yellow, white, and blue to represent the virus, which is infecting the work. It has a social reference as well as an artistic one.
“This particular work was part of General Idea’s dissemination of information about HIV/AIDS through art (including posters and paintings) throughout Canada, the United States, and Europe. They wanted to draw the public’s attention to this terrible scourge.
“I advised McCarthy Tétrault to purchase this work for their collection. I went with members of the firm to General Idea’s studio. At the time Jorge was very sick with AIDS. But he dressed up and came out and met us. He died within the week. I was very close with General Idea. The fact that they asked me, of all people, to present them with their lifetime achievement award was such an honour—I was so moved by that.”