Friday, November 5, 2010

Least Risky Critical Statement Ever: I Too Loved the Shary Boyle Show at the AGO

So the Shary Boyle show at the AGO has already gotten a ton of press. And rightly so. It's a pretty awesome show. Did I really need to add to the love-in? I'm not sure, but gosh, I just had to 'fess up too. My glowing review is now online at Posted Toronto, the National Post's Hogtown-centric webstream. An excerpt:

Boyle tackles big, unwieldy themes: birth, death, sex, crisis and renewal, crystallizing these themes in works that strike a compelling balance between delightful and disturbing. A black-booted corpse covered with butterflies, two figures barfing pretty beads, a lute player turning the amp up to 11 — Boyle crafts it all so well that what could be heavy-handed in a lesser talent’s oeuvre communicates as mature and complex.

In the review, I also wonder what Boyle's show means for the AGO. Though it's easily one of the gallery's best shows ever, it's also one that was largely coordinated by a Montreal gallery--Galerie de l'UQAM. So it's a little unclear how much credit the AGO can take for the show's success, or for, y'know, kind of giving an actual Ontario artist a fair solo-show shake. I'm posing this as an open question, with no conclusions drawn, as I'm sure the AGO did contribute efforts and funds, as no doubt did a third presenting partner, the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver.

Also, I tried to point out in the review that the placement of the show in the museum's historical-art section has a double-edged effect, at least for me. This consideration was driven in part by thinking about how different the show might look at Galerie de l'UQAM and the CAG, which are more standard "white cube" environments for contemporary art—-for better or for worse.

(Image of Shary Boyle's White Light from - photo by Ian Lefebvre)


Ingrid Mida said...

I loved the show too. I especially admire how Shary uses a range of mediums from drawing, painting, sculpture and installation to convey her ideas. Plus I thought the placement within the AGO worked to bring in visitors who might not otherwise venture up to the contemporary art floors.

Leah Sandals said...

Hey Ingrid,
Man, sorry I'm such a slowster on the blog lately! I appreciate your comment. I do think that the placement worked in different ways for different visitors. It just raised certain space-crunch aspects for me too.