Monday, July 18, 2011

At the Galleries: Mink Mile & Yorkville

In my most recent reviews for the National Post, which came out on Saturday, I focus on the Mink Mile/Yorkville area. Here's an excerpt:

1. Bollywood Cinema Showcards at the ROM
100 Queen’s Park, to Oct. 2
I saw this exhibition and submitted my corresponding review before the horrific events in Mumbai took place this past week. Those who see this show in coming weeks will no doubt see it with a darker pall of associations, just as I myself will when I see it again. That’s a shame because, in a lot of ways, the exhibition design is right on, as pink, orange and yellow walls play off the saturated tones of Bollywood movie posters from the 1950s to the 1990s. To me, these artifacts generate a pleasure similar to that of peeping pulp-fiction covers — whether you’re looking at design or at plot, there’s a whole lotta drama going on. On a more brainy front, helpful texts hint at the way India’s movie heroes changed as the nation’s circumstances did. One of those circumstances, of course, has been the colonial and post-colonial interplay between Indian and Western cultures, and it’s eye-opening to see stories such as Tarzan and King Kong get Bollywood makeovers, as well as to learn about movie plots more endemic to India, like arranged-marriage conflicts. A sweet little film about a Mumbai poster collector that closes the exhibition does a good job of suggesting what these showcards might mean to locals, and a tiny related exhibition on India’s centuries-old painted-photography tradition is also terrific. That leaves any complaints to perennial ROM-related ones: a steep entry fee, a labyrinthine layout and a tendency to lean at times on borrowed, amateur-amassed collections.

Other shows looked at include Jun Kaneko at the Gardiner Museum and a smattering of commercial dealer shows in the Yorkville Ave/Hazelton Ave area. Read on at the Post for the details.

One show that I trimmed along the way is a photo exhibit at the Japan Foundation about the Grand Shrine of Ise. The photos didn't really grab me as standalones, but they were a great way to enter the fascinating, truly mindblowing aspect of this shrine: it is completely destroyed and rebuilt every 20 years. That includes all the artifacts in it. Wild.

Oh, and the ROM is screening a neat-looking doc on the disappearing art of hand-painted Indian billboards on July 21--this Thursday, and it's actually free!

(Image of one of the Bollywood Cinema Showcards in the ROM's exhibition via the National Post)

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