Thursday, May 25, 2006

REVIEWS- Shary Boyle and AGO Wallworks

The following reviews were originally written by yours truely for Flack, an online art review zine. Both shows are about to close, so hurry over to see them before they're gone!

WALLWORKS: Sol Lewitt, C.A. Swintak, Lawrence Weiner, Denyse Thomasos, Raymond Pettibon and Chris Ballantyre @ the Art Gallery of Ontario. Until June 1st.
Currently on display are the first of 15 Swing Space installations by contemporary artists showing at the very much in-progress AGO over a two year period.
Hidden away in a remote little room were the contributions of Raymond Pettibon and Chris Ballantyre. Pettibon's piece- one of his large scale wave paintings- was lyrically (no pun intended) executed with his usual text inclusions: references ranging from literature to Gillette razor ads, professional surfers from the 1960's to the artist's own mother. The piece however suffers from the small space it is situated in. It would have been interesting to see the product of Pettibon's mad hand spread out in a larger space along side the exhibition's more "formal" wall works, rather than screaming out all over the baseboards, from a space no larger than a nursery room.
Speaking of which, a nursery room is exactly what Chris Ballantyre's minimal, pastel-hued depiction of partially-submerged houses surrounded by still floodwater evokes. This is not to say that his contribution was without it's merits; particularily a cool aura of mystery and subtle malevolence- like the calm AFTER the storm.
In the large room situated next to the gift shop, Lawrence Weiner's text piece is brutally upstaged by the work of C.A. Swintak and Denyse Thomasos (Pictured: Hybrid Nations- detail, 2005). Swintak's elaborate assemblage around an archway is a flamboyant, in-your-face pisstake on classical architecture, entirely constructed out of the residue of the artist's everyday life. Dirty laundry and plates, high heels, soiled napkins, belts, bedding, nightgowns, cans of Old Milwaukee, even the artist's own furniture are included in this clever installation, which lies somewhere between Robert Rauschenberg and Parkdale yardsale. Denyse Thomasos' staggering work, a huge wall painting combining computer-generated architectural renderings with loose, though very deliberate painted depictions of primitive architectural forms, stuns. Breathtaking in it's technicality and scale while appearing almost effortlessly executed, Thomasos' work walks, and questions, the often fine line between order and chaos.

LACE FIGURES: Shary Boyle @ the Power Plant. March 25-May 28, 2006.
Lace Figures is the result of Shary Boyle's larest project- two years of studying and learning the delicate art of porcelain lace draping. The process involves coating lace in a layer of liquid porcelain, which is then applied to an unfired porcelain base. When fired, the lace disintegrates and the coating remains intact, leaving a highly detailed, delicate impression of the lace's patterns.
In the vein of previous work, Boyle's figures are an all-star cast of her signature anti-heroines, who weave a dark fable as tangled and alluring as the details on their elaborate gowns. Gaping wounds take the form of lush red roses and pleated lace collars; debutantes don bruises, bulging veins and suicide scars; two-headed brides play tug-of-war; dress bustles and details blind, mute and entangle their dewy-eyed ceramic models. The figures articulate a range of emotions- from helplessness to defiance to pride- yet are all entirely unapologetic for their vulnerability.
Part of Boyle's gift is her ability to present us with a side of ourselves we'd rather not acknowledge. Her Lace Figures make a little part of us stars in our own fairy tale in a land far away from touched-up, sanitized womanhood; in a story that celebrates the inherent beauty in darkness. (Pictured: Lace Figures- detail, 2005)

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