Shot through the heart: Viktor Mitic's "Dealers" opens tonight
I can imagine that few experiences could be as simultaneously flattering and unnerving as having your portrait done. For one thing, it's a complete surrender of agency as to how you're represented to the artist, but at the same time, it's ego-stroking to be considered important, interesting or visually compelling enough to have it done in the first place.
Ego usually wins out over insecurity, though, and Viktor Mitic has has given us 36 examples of the same with his series, "Dealers," a collection of portraits opening tonight at the Odon Wagner Gallery, of most of Toronto's gallery owners of import (that's Benjamin Diaz, of Diaz Contemporary, above). This is not to disparage those who didn't make the cut -- I can guess some fell on the other side of the equation, politely refusing -- but the roster Mitic presents is remarkably complete.
Endearingly indistinct and -- dare I say it -- impressionistic, Mitic's portraits are an uncharacteristically tender homage; if you don't know him, Mitic's probably best-known for works like "Hole Jesus," (2008), a portrait of Christ rendered from 22-calibre rifle shots. In another portrait, Mitic forged a likeness of Prime Minister Stephen Harper using wood screws on plywood (the title (drumroll, please: "Screw Harper.")
If nothing else, it's an abject lesson in careerist artistic priority: Religion and politics? Perfect for the profane. But art dealers? Now there's something sacred.