Friday, August 13, 2010

A Last-Minute Three to See: Blue Republic, Site Exercises, Flavio Trevisan

As I've noted here before, Tecumseth Street is usually good for a quick art hit, with four fairly solid galleries just a few blocks away from one another. It's also a good place to catch the last gasp of art-summer this weekend, with Blue Republic closing at Georgia Scherman and Flavio Trevisan closing at Diaz, and Site Exercises at Susan Hobbs also getting near the end of its run. I review all three at Posted Toronto (to run in print tomorrow in the Post). Here's an excerpt:

Blue Republic at Georgia Scherman
133 Tecumseth St., to Aug. 14
Blue Republic (a.k.a. Anna Passakas and Radoslaw Kudlinski) always seems to be trying to make you aware of how much you don’t know — not necessarily in a bad way, but not in a way that’s always conventionally enjoyable, either. At this show (which marks the duo’s departure from long-time dealer Peak in favour of Georgia Scherman), one senses more than ever that the artists want to jolt viewers out of their complacencies, particularly around expectations of art and artists. One way Blue Republic achieves this effect is by refusing adherence to any one media or aesthetic; their current exhibition ranges from jokey one-offs (images of peeled oranges surrounded by potato skins) and po-mo Canadiana (lake-water drawings on shield granite) to globally minded gravitas (blueprint-like map sketches), art-historical geekery (pie-chart paintings of The Last Supper) and solemn alchemical gestures (a landscape built of Beuysian clay and cardboard). Furthermore, Blue Republic usually keeps things cryptic, making viewers feel that reference points are always slightly beyond their ken. Overall, the show well evokes gaps and misunderstandings that exist in our complex, cross-cultural world, and it seems to insist that human beings, society and art are all infinitely complicated entities. Still, for all the eccentric, vanguard qualities, this exhibition is surprisingly reminiscent
of another wide-ranging Scherman-shown duo, Daniel Borins and Jennifer Marman. What to do when expectation-upending becomes expected? We’ll have to stay tuned to find out.

Here's the Twitter version: "Blue Republic's show is fun, but baffles. Good 2 recog. complexity, unpredictability of life, art, etc. but kinda like Borins & Marman, no?"

I should also note that the group show at Birch Libralato has a few surprises - a massive felt-letter installation by Michelle Gay, older paintings (yes, paintings!) by Luis Jacob, and some new works that I like by Cathy Daley (they depart from her popular ladies-legs theme, which didn't really appeal to me besides the charcoaliness of them, and go more abstract, which I think works well).

Image from Blue Republic's Water Drawings series from via the Post, courtesy Georgia Scherman Projects

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