Saturday, March 13, 2010

Out today: Reviews of Romano, Pien & Cho on Tecumseth St

Yesterday, watching the livestream of a critics panel in NYC, I was struck by the comment (which I think may have been from Martha Schwendener, but I can't be sure) that when you're on a deadline and writing a review quickly, you're aware that you might feel differently about the work if you'd more time to revisit it. I guess that's how I feel a little bit about my reviews on Tecumseth Street out in today's National Post. Ah well, here's an excerpt:

Tony Romano at Diaz Contemporary
100 Niagara St.

Irony and sincerity seem to be battling it out for supremacy in Tony Romano's latest show at Diaz. Granted, tension between these two tendencies marks a lot of current art. Still, Romano ramps it up in Beautiful Monster, his documentary/mockumentary on Toronto painter Jay Isaac. Combining self-consciously solemn black-and-white shots with cheesy, synth-soundtracked colour passages, Beautiful Monster comes off as part student film and part art-doc satire. But even as it undermines its own credibility, the flick presents a few serious thoughts and images on the importance of art. A similar feeling comes across in The Imagine Band, a project where Romano had the lyrics to John Lennon's Imagine translated into 10 languages and then back into English. The song's original sentiments remain, even if the names have (somewhat humorously) been changed. Pinocchio, an aluminum sculpture cast from a clunky wooden figure, also seems to put Jeff Koons-ian polish (and related po-mo distance) on earnest rural tinkering. Overall, the show is enjoyable, but also maddening. The most immediately engaging works are absurd movie-poster collages that mash up dolphin dramedies with Apocalypse Now, while the rest keep you guessing about the artist's intentions. Is that really enough to sustain an art practice over the long term? We'll have to wait for Romano's next show to find out. To March 20.

There's also comments on Ed Pien's show @ Birch Libralato and Hyang Cho @ Georgia Scherman in the full review. (Will Gorlitz is also showing at Birch, but in my mind the show pales compared to his MoCCA survey on now -- like my NOW colleague David Jager, I really ended up loving Gorlitz's works from the 1990s.)

Installation image of Tony Romano's show at Diaz from Canadian Art

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