Monday, January 31, 2011

It's a Jungle Out There: Reviews of Some Wild Shows from this Weekend's Post

Sometimes I wonder about that age-old question: Does every critic, at heart, really yearn to be a curator? I know I'm really bad with space and objects and such, so that's not such a great fit for me. But y'know, I can't resist a good theme--linking art together that way is certainly up my alley sometimes.

So it goes with my At the Galleries column for this weekend's National Post. Though the column is usually neighbourhood-focused, I couldn't resist discussing a few shows across the city that deal with the theme of (or include) animals. The zoo-ish tour took me to Ingram Gallery, Katharine Mulherin and QueenSpecific. Here's an excerpt:

Bodies & Politics at Katharine Mulherin
1086 Queen St. W., to Feb. 6
Ontario-raised, New York-based artist Michael Caines wittily takes on the political animal in his recent paintings, showcased in this three-person exhibition. These meticulous canvases show a Jesus-like Reagan cuddling a Glenn Beck lamb, a childish Nixon playing with kittens, and a ruby-slippered Karl Rove wandering a fairytale forest, Bambi in tow. Though conservatives could be upset by the uncertain implications, Caines’ dexterity and HonorĂ© Daumier evocations will likely seduce most viewers. Elsewhere in the show, Balint Zsako’s remarkable recent watercolours offer a different take on human-as-animal. In them, human flesh, milk, blood and tears become transformative imagery for narratives that are at once primal and uplifting. (In these images, art and romance are the two things that seem to differentiate us from the other mammals kicking around.) Finally, the dark, Goya-esque drawings of Oscar de las Flores picture a more dog-eat-dog angle on civilization. Overall, highly

You can read the rest here at the Posted Toronto blog. I know I'm reading in some of that animal stuff... but I guess that's the good part of being a critic, not a curator.

(Image of Michael Caines' Cats vs Dogs 2010 via the National Post courtesy Katharine Mulherin)

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