Friday, September 23, 2011

CORRECTION Three Painting-Show Reviews: Mark Crofton Bell @ General Hardware, Rajni Perera @ 129 Ossington, Dil Hildebrand @ YYZ

CORRECTION - Sunday September 25, 2011 - As a reader helpfully pointed out in the comments below, there is an error in this At the Galleries column. The original text states incorrectly that Winnie Truong was the winner of the 2010 OCADU Drawing & Painting Medal. In 2010, Truong actually won the W.O. Forsythe Award from OCADU, and the correct winner of the 2010 OCADU Drawing & Painting Medal was Vanessa Maltese. I very much regret the error, and any confusion it may have caused. My editors at the National Post have been notified in order that a correction be run there as well. Again, my apologies for this inaccurate statement.

Sooooo many painting shows going on in Toronto right now! For my lastest National Post gallery column, up now at Posted Toronto and out in tomorrow's print edition, I look at three such shows I recently enjoyed: Mark Crofton Bell at General Hardware, Rajni Perera at 129 Ossington and Dil Hildebrand at YYZ. An excerpt:

Mark Crofton Bell at General Hardware Contemporary
1520 Queen St. W., to Oct. 8
The luminescent quality of Mark Crofton Bell’s oil paintings — and the dreamy, slightly surreal scenes they render — made Peter Doig’s internationally famed canvases an inescapable reference point for me while visiting Bell’s exhibition at General Hardware. Nonetheless, there is much to be enjoyed in Bell’s paintings in their own right. The thin layers of oil paint that he uses to build up each image convey a simultaneous sense of lightness and depth, a delightful combination that keeps you looking. Yet that considerable visual pleasure often gives way to a scene that feels slightly off — a hallway crowded with dogs, say, or a sky dark with swarming birds. This more sinister underpinning to Bell’s images is elucidated in an exhibition essay by Shannon Anderson, which explains that a colourful image of balloons on water is based on the story of a drowning victim, and that a puff of cloud above a lake, classic wilderness-scene material, at first glance, is based on a photograph of a North Korean explosion. Once I became aware of such sources, a tension was set up in myself between wanting to look longer, and wanting look away — particularly when it came to the cell-like images in the gallery’s basement. That dynamic was reinforced on the second floor in an assortment of Bell’s delicate watercolours, which are often more explicitly drawn from news photos of riots and other disturbing incidents. Whatever your take on Bell’s possible influences, his mix of wondrous technique and worrying content is a hard one to forget.

For the other reviews, plus a couple of other recommendations, read on at Posted Toronto.

Also, I came across a link recently that will be of interest to many who do arts reviewing -- it's by a PhD student studying the concept of "quality" in the arts and who's been researching how literary critics evaluate books differently in writing and in spoken word. The article, "Morals and Mean Reviews," by Phillipa Chong, is up at the Toronto Review of Books. Chong says she will soon be expanding her field of research into art criticism and movie criticism, and I look forward to seeing what her results yield!

(Image of Mark Crofton Bell's painting Double Phenomenon via


Anonymous said...

Vanessa Maltese won the 2010 Drawing and Painting medal, not Winnie Troung

Leah Sandals said...

Dear Anonymous,

I'm very sorry for the error. I very much appreciate you pointing it out. I will be sending a correction notice to my editor immediately. Apologies to Maltese and Truong on this point as well.

If anyone else has concerns about the factual accuracy/inaccuracy of any item on this site, please let me know.