Saturday, August 28, 2010

Reviews: Morley Shayuk, Gilbert Garcin, Winnie Truong, My Geographical Screwups

A few weeks ago, I heard from Paul Petro that his Special Projects Space at 962 Queen Street West was closing because the landlord had sold the building. As Petro pointed out in an email release, the space has been home to notable independent art endeavours since 1996:

1996-98 "In/Attendant" (Shannon Cochrane, Myfanwy Ashmore, Keith Manship)
1998-2005 "Zsa Zsa Gallery" (Andrew Harwood)
2005-2007 "Paul Petro Multiples + Small Works"
2007-2010 "Paul Petro Special Projects Space"

In today's National Post, I review the final show of the PPSPS--Morley Shayuk--except, of course, like a total ass, I got the address wrong, listing the address of Petro's main space (which is definitely remaining open!) instead. I regret the error, and will send a correction notice in. I'm very sorry about that. Anyway, here's my review:

Morley Shayuk at Paul Petro Special Projects Space
982 962 Queen St. W. To Aug. 31.
William Blake sought "the world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower," but Morley Shayuk has been looking for transcendence at the mall and Tim Hortons. Scarborough Town Centre and the Dufferin Mall are just a couple of places where Shayuk videotaped design elements -- think food court porticos and fake-rock wall treatments -- that reminded him of the spirituality-symbolizing shapes and colours often used in 20th-century abstract art. The resulting short film isn't as good as its premise, but it's luckily just one part of this show. The exhibition's true highlight (and tone-setter) is a massive, rectangular beige-stucco monolith that dominates the small gallery space. Etched with more of those (once high-minded) abstract shapes, this monolith would be at home next to a Boston Cream or Brancusi's Kiss. It's both grand and silly, sincere and sarcastic--impressively so. A small abstract painting with a similarly neutral palette completes the show. Together, these works reminded me of the power of context -- that what's penetrating in one time and space can be pedestrian in another. This is a common contemporary-art theme, but it's freshened by Shayuk's quirks, like his crush on Group of Seven misfit Lionel Lemoine Fitzgerald. Overall, a good closing exhibition for 982 962 Queen West, which has been home to left-field art shows since 1996.

The article also reviews a few other Queen West shows (Gilbert Garcin at Stephen Bulger, Winnie Truong at Katharine Mulherin) too, both worth seeing in my view.

Still from Morley Shayuk's video from Shayuk's blog

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