Weekend notes: Openings, closings, and other th-ings
Busy week and week-end in town for a dreary November. Some of my highlights follow.
Clark Faria has a show of new work by painter Kristine Moran, whose trippy canvases (right) explore an enigmatic borderland between representation and abstraction. The work is filled with candy-coloured dread: Moran loves working with a narrative, and this show is no exception. The paintings, we're told, unfold the tale of a character trapped in a tangled, overgrown swamp; Moran's play with perception and the formal tension between order and chaos confounds the eye, and I mean that in a good way. Opening at the same time across the way at Jane Corkin was a show of new work by Toronto video artist Sharon Switzer. It's called "I shoudl be dreaming of butterflies," and Switzer's trademark black humour is on display here in her text-and-image work, setting idea against image in ways both amusing and self-loathing.
Also opening last night was Mowry Baden's show at Diaz Contemporary. Baden, a senior artist from Victoria, B.C., has spent decades building large-scale sculptures dependent on viewer involvement (I remember one, which seemed to be a giant red button with a plinth you're supposed to lie on to push); here, he returns to a favourite fascination with "Mirroring," a suite of pieces that fiddle with viewer perception as you engage them.
Tonight, Toronto painter Stephen Andrews opens at Paul Petro on Queen Street West with a suite of new paintings, while around the corner at MKG127, artist Jayce Salloum has given over his solo show to a, ahem, Group of Seven artists he's chosen to show with him. The number can't be a coincidence, as Salloum and crew explore "differing geographies and explicit conditions," they say; think of it as a non-heroic take on the contemporary landscape -- external or internal. It's called "rockpaperscissors," opening tomorrow.
From there, take a meander on up to Jessica Bradley Art+Projects, where a solo show of Ben Reeves' paintings opens tomorrow as well. Psychedelically indistinct and bordeline abstract, Reeves canvases in this show, called "Oil and Water," "ostensibly depict rainy day scenes," the gallery says -- just what we need as we sink past the dreariness of fall and into the black hole of winter. Still, Reeves' work is anythign but dreary;bold, assured and awash in colour, it's worth your time.
Also opening tomorrow is Ross Bell's show at Georgia Scherman, an engaging contemporary take on post-modern Modernism, particularly the latter's view of the former. Bell works with found materials particular to his trade, like packing materials used to transport artworks; he uses them, along with construction materials, to build sculptures with an internal, dislocated logic. The viewer enters into these structures to find a mirrored world, infecting purist Modern edicts about form and materials with a weird dislocation that's anathema to the philosophy. At once playful and commanding, Bell's "Strip Cubes" order space and then confound your perception of it all at once.
Also Saturday is the annual showing of semi-finalists of the RBC painting competition. Why it's restricted to painting I'm not sure -- maybe they think painters get poo-pooed at the country's other, bigger emerging artist prize, the Sobey? -- but whatever the case, the RBC event has helped boost the careers of several young painters since it was founded in 1999, winners or not (Kim Dorland, Melanie Authier and Arabella Campbell, last year's winner, spring to mind) and is usually worth a look. This year's $25,000 winner is Vancouver's Brenda Draney (left), so congrats to her.
Closing this weekend are two shows from photographer Bertrand Carriere, both at Stephen Bulger and at Oakville Galleries. Carriere, who focuses on revisiting the sites of distant Canadian wars long past, offers new images at Bulger retracing the steps of an unnamed World War I photographer with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in Europe. At the Oakville Galleries, Carriere's Caux Project, from 2003, is the photographer's exploration of the war-scarred landscape of Northern France, specifically Dieppe, where so many Canadians died on D-Day. Sombre and unpeopled, Carriere's images speak of teh disquieting churn of memory into history, and the inevitable pain of forgetting.