A few things
Turn your back for a couple of weeks, and everybody goes and opens stuff on you -- Daniel Borins and Jennifer Marman at YYZ, Janet Cardiff at Miriam Schiele. Needless to say, I have a lot of catching up to do, but let's start with today and work our way back from there. Tonight, Nicholas Metivier opens his summer slate with characteristic marketing aplomb. But the title is apt: Mayhem, it's called, and bombast prevails: the Sanchez Brothers loudly announce they've just joined Metivier's roster with the very literally-titled Bloody Bed (2002), a glossy crimson wash pooling deep atop what I imagine to be the bed in a Tijuana Motel.
The stiff pair of feet resting on its edge push the picture from eerie to dark parody, and I prefer the former, but no-one's ever accused the Sanchez's of an overabundance of subtlety. I'm thinking mostly of the wrecked bus that spent the month of May, 2007, in the parking lot at MOCCA, in which the Sanchez's installed a video projection of hapless passengers ascent to the heavens (I think). The piece was called Between Life and Death; and though it was heavy-handed, it was lush, perfectly produced, and engaging -- all of which, for me, sums up much of their work.
Speaking of heavy-handed, the show also features work by painters Martin Bureau (in this case, a flaming F-16 fighter jet morphing into rather displeased waterfowl as it plummets towards earth), an inward-turning urban nightmarescape by Rachel McFarlane, and a piece by Michael Smith that teeters nicely between representation and abstraction, and, visually, burns white-hot.
But the winner for me is John Scott's General Dark Matter (2009), a grimly opaque Napoleanic figure he's returned to time and again. Scott's work is well-known -- Governor General Award winner and all -- but never fails to surprise and unnerve. I never get tired of looking at this work, however often it appears.
Also opening tonight at Stephen Bulger is Scott Connaroe's By Rail, a series of images exmaining the North American rail systems' drift into semi-anachronism as the world has sprawled around it and shouldered up against it, but also its vital role in knitting together distant points and allowing the march of colonialism to spread into the continent's every corner.
Whether or not that's a good thing is open for debate, and Connaroe's images leave it that way. The image at left, Prairie Tracks, Saskatchewan (2008) is a sentimental favourite; but the full range of images offers a pleasingly cohesive whole.
And do let us not forget my favourite event of the week, if not the month, and maybe the summer, the dual opening of Diana Thorneycroft's and Charlie Pachter's at the McMichael in Kleinberg tonight. I'll have much more to say about it in the actual paper on the weekend, but for now, let me just say: Go.