Sur Gallery presents: Overcoming Otherness


May 4 – June 30, 2023

Opening Reception
Thursday, May 4, 7-9pm
Register here.

Performance by Helena Martin Franco:
Confessions of Elephant Woman with Her Hands in the Air
Thursday, May 4, 8pm

Curator Tour with Tamara Toledo
Saturday, June 3, 3-4pm
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Artist Talk with Francisco González Rosas
Thursday, June 15, 7-8pm
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Screen Printing Workshop with Azul Baez
Saturday, June 17 and Saturday, June 24, 12-2pm
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This exhibition refers to forms of representation and interpretation and how Latinx bodies are rendered as other by a Eurocentric gaze. By challenging fetishized and exoticized codifications of race and ethnicity, the artists Nahúm Flores, Helena Martin Franco, Juan de Dios Mora, Diana Rosa, and Francisco González Rosas propose alternative ways of understanding mestizaje. They radicalize conventional paradigms of how certain identities are perceived and constructed to fulfill colonial structures that perpetuate systems of invisibility and omission. The artists in the exhibition portray cultural, social, and personal manifestations of identity and they mark the intricacies and nuances built after centuries of colonialism and decades of imperialism.

Identity preoccupations are often explored by artists from the diaspora, yet the richness of its multiplicity does not rely on nationalist histories or romanticized visions of culture. The artists in Overcoming Otherness critique the exclusionary production of identity politics. They offer sites of liberation and disrupt the notion of a harmonious mixing of cultures and ethnicities, often attached to ideas of mestizaje. The idealization of mestizaje renders Indigenous identity as static, archaic, and of the past. Feminist sociologist and activist Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui, counterposes with the Aymara concept of ch’ixi – a parallel coexistence of difference – to ideas of multiculturalism and hybridity which are seen as a perpetuation of coloniality. This parallel coexistence does not erase but complement the very nature of multiplicity. The exhibition insists on a different understanding of identity and as such it problematizes notions of mestizaje and instead presents a nuanced and layered concept of what and how Latinx bodies shape and define their own representation in Canada.

Curated by Tamara Toledo.

Francisco González Rosas, Identity templates for a disordered body, video still, 2022. Image courtesy of the artist.


JUAN DE DIOS MORA was born in Yahualica, Mexico. In 1998, his family immigrated to the United States. In 2009, he received a BFA in Painting, in 2011 an MFA in Printmaking, and acquired both degrees from the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). He currently works in the art department at UTSA as an Assistant Professor of Art. Juan de Dios Mora focuses on printmaking techniques of relief to create narratives of Mexican American experiences. His work has been exhibited at the McNay Art Museum, TX; National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, IL; El Paso Museum of Art, TX; Museo de Arte de Ciudad Juarez, Mexico; among others.

NAHÚM FLORES was born in Danli, Honduras and immigrated to Canada at the age of seventeen, after living in Mexico and the United States. He holds a BFA in Drawing and Painting from OCAD University and is currently an MFA student at the same institution. He has been awarded grants from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto Arts Council, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation. The syncretism of Honduran traditions informed by social and environmental issues influence his mixed media artworks. His work has been widely exhibited in North America, Europe, and Latin America. He is co-founder and active member of Z’otz* Collective.

FRANCISCO GONZÁLEZ-ROSAS is a performance and new media artist born in Chile, and currently is based in Tiohtia:ke/Montreal. González Rosas holds an MFA in Intermedia from Concordia University and a BA in Acting from Finis Terrae University (Santiago, Chile). Solo exhibitions include Techniques of the Narcissist in 2019 at Elektra Gallery (Montreal) and the museum of the copy/pasted identities in 2022 at McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology (Toronto). Their creative research practice revolves around the constant mediation of reality in contemporary life, using performance as a generative device for inquiry rather than an end.

HELENA MARTIN FRANCO was born in Cartagena, Colombia and is based in Montreal since 1998. She studied in Colombia and received an MFA from the National University of Colombia and a master’s degree in visual and media arts from Université du Québec à Montréal. She is a founding artist of the feminist collectives La Redhada (network of women artists from the Colombian Caribbean), CAVCA (Community of Visual Artists of Cartagena and Bolívar), among other collectives. Martin Franco is recipient of the 2018 Powerhouse Prize and has exhibited her work extensively in various countries.

Born and raised in Cuba DIANA ROSA is currently based in Brampton, Ontario. She received her bachelor’s in art history at Oriente University in Santiago de Cuba and worked as a curator prior to immigrating to Canada. Rosa makes connections between the real and the imagined painting colourful storytelling autobiographical landscapes that explore questions of identity, love, and relationships between the environment and human beings. Her work has been exhibited at various art fairs and galleries in London, Hong Kong, Paris, among other cities across North America.


TAMARA TOLEDO is a Chilean-born Toronto-based curator, scholar, and artist, graduate of OCAD University and holds an MFA from York University. Toledo is co-founder of the Allende Arts Festival and of Latin American Canadian Art Projects – LACAP. She is currently the Curator of Sur Gallery and is a PhD candidate in Art History and Visual Culture at York University.

Sur Gallery is Canada’s first gallery space dedicated to the exhibition and critical engagement of contemporary Latin American art.

For information contact:

Gallery Hours:
Fri. Noon-6:00PM
Sat. 11 AM-5 PM

100-39 Queens Quay East,
Toronto, ON

Sur Gallery acknowledges the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts; Ontario Arts Council; Toronto Arts Council; The City of Toronto through section 37; its sponsors Ready2Post and Hoffworks Productions; as well as its partners Mabelle Arts and Hoopla Art Press & Gallery.