Monday, January 17, 2011

Awards-Season Art Reviews from the Weekend Post

Didja see the Golden Globes last night? I did a wee bit, until the boring speechifying changed my mind. Nevertheless, this beginning of the film awards season made me think recently of the "marquee shows" at some Toronto galleries. I reviewed three in this weekend's National Post: Maharaja at the AGO, Abel Abdessemed at Onsite [at] OCAD and Tim Burton at the TIFF Lightbox. An excerpt:

Maharaja at the Art Gallery of Ontario
317 Dundas St. W., to April 3
With Maharaja, the AGO has finally managed to do a historical exhibition right. Sure, King Tut and Drama & Desire also had lots of stunning objects. But those past shows lacked sufficient interpretive material — texts, videos, etc. — to provide stories and contexts for the objects on view. Whether it’s thanks to London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, which organized Maharaja, or thanks to the AGO itself, this exhibition suffers no such downfall. It’s a delight to see these finely crafted paintings, ornaments and furnishings, and it’s also a delight to learn about the time and place they represent. We discover, for instance, that 1700s court paintings weren’t displayed on walls; rather, they were viewed in private portfolios. Similarly, a long painting of a procession (one of many great parade scenes in Maharaja) is annotated to pinpoint various faiths and classes of 18th-century India. All this, of course, may seem mere detail. But as the many finely cut gemstones in this exhibition evince, attention to detail (and not just to sparkle) is what makes a real jewel.

You can read the other two reviews here.

(Jawan Singh of Mewar Hunting Boar, 1835, via the National Post)

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