With his new exhibition At Home With Monsters getting ready to open to the public tomorrow, Sept 30th, filmmaker/director/novelist Guillermo del Toro sat down with the media to talk about the content of the show and where some of his inspiration came from.
One thing that strikes you right away about the man, besides that fact that he is incredibly and impossibly well read, is that he approaches subjects with no limitations, no borders. “For me, there is no real line”, he said when discussing the division between high and low culture. “Art for me is a spiritual exercise and if you stay on only one side of that line, you’re extolling virtues in art that it doesn’t need and aren’t necessary. That limits you”.
He was also quite humorous and straightforward when asked if I had a favorite piece in this massive exhibition. “A fire once came within a hundred feet of the house and I got the call with the question, which of them do you want to save? And I said none because if I save one it will remind me that I never saved any of the other ones. Let it all burn or let it all stay.”
Indeed, the exhibition itself is massive, with nods not just to familiar things such as Hellboy, Crimson Peak, and Pans Labyrinth but also to a huge collection of books, favorite monsters, paintings and very large comic collection. Walking from room to room was really like exploring part of del Toro’s mind, which can be a very interesting place indeed, especially when it comes to his Disney collection. Yes, you read that right, Disney. “Disney gave us some of the scariest things you’ll ever be exposed to as a human being,” del Toro said when talking about what we now think of as simply a big corporation. “Sleeping Beauty, Snow White or Pinocchio, Pinocchio is actually the same basic story as Frankenstein. He is born without a soul, not knowing what it is to be human, so they are very connected to me.”
Jim Shedden, curator of this exhibition at the AGO, talked about why they included del Torro’s love of cinema and fandom in At Home With Monsters. “There’s numerous reason obviously but I just love that when I first met Guillermo said I’m a fan of fandom. He recognizes his routes and has always paid tribute to that. There is equal attention given to the great Victorian art as is to comic books, and that is true fandom.”
There can be no escaping Guillermo del Torro’s love of Frankenstein as it appears almost around every corner. The story, human creation, human interference leading to violence and tragedy, are some of del Toro’s favorite subjects. The only thing that rivals his love of the big loveable monster is his borderline obsession with H.P. Lovecraft, whose library he recreated, as well as the man himself, at his Bleak House.
While del Torro makes no bones about his love of fandom, he doesn’t mince words either when it comes to those who take it for granted. “If you just consume pop culture and don’t process it or try to elevate it in your mind and make it your own, it’s just sad.”
Guillermo del Torro’s At Home With Monsters runs from Sept 30th, 2017 to January 7, 2018 at the Art Gallery of Ontario