Art Reviews Toronto

Art Agenda: Collaborative work at XPACE, Greg Curnoe at Wynick/Tuck and Jessica Eaton at Red Bull 381

If there's a running theme to this week's Art Agenda, it's that things are not necessarily as they appear. Each of the shows I checked out feature novel or intriguing creative processes that require a little extra attention to appreciate fully. On the docket:

  • Cavalcade & Odds and Entries, collaborative work at XPACE.
  • Original Copy: Collages, Drawings, & Rubber Stamp Works by Greg Curnoe at Wynick/Tuck
  • Strata: New Work by Jessica Eaton at Red Bull 381 Projects.

Cavalcade & Odds and Entries, Nov. 12 - Dec. 11 at XPACE

calvalcade XPACE

Cavalcade, a mural project by nine illustrators -- Dmitry Bondarenko, Daniel Downey, Jessie Durham, Adrian Forrow, Ali Hall, Nat Janin, Ahmed Kassem, Sean Lewis, and Javier Ortiz-- consists of several sections of imagery painted directly onto the walls of XPACE. Most contain elements of the ironic aesthetic I've been seeing around the city: sophisticated animals, 80s-inspired galactic backgrounds, cartoon trees.

Calvalcade XPACE

In its in-progress state, the project appears more like a group show than a collaborative effort, but the white borders between each artist's zone will disappear as more paint gets added to the mix. Visitors can watch the artists at work every Friday afternoon from 1pm-6pm. Thanks to this weekly session, the paintings will evolve through the month-long period until the show closes.


Down below in XBASE is an inspired sculpture piece: a collaborative effort by a group of artists known as Tongue and Groove Collective. Constructed from scavenged furniture and everyday ephemera, the piece is a homage to collecting, storage, new uses for old things -- and as the accompanying text states, "the potency of objects." The title, Odds & Entries, a clever twist on the collective term for the household junk that can be found within the drawers of the piece's dressers and cabinets (which are all piled on top of each other), also references the obsessive cataloguing that that teh artists undertook to create the collections.


The stone-walled, low-ceilinged room, with its dampness and musty smell, is a perfect fit -- where else would a monstrous pile of old chests-of-drawers belong, and why else would they be bursting with hair in plastic sleeves, chewing gum (in various states), bouncy rubber balls, paper file folders? The eerie room is a fitting home for objects like these, and it heightens the experience of snooping and riffling through the drawers in a mode of slow discovery.

Original Copy: Collages, Drawings, & Rubber Stamp Works by Greg Curnoe, 1962-92, Nov. - Jan. 15 at Wynick/Tuck Gallery

Greg Curnoe

Spanning 30 years of Curnoe's career, this exhibition comprises works by the late eminent Canadian artist, best known for his work with CARFAC in the 60s. Often characteristic of that vibrant period, many of the works on display use text in cheeky ways, and include paper bits like packaging, flyers, and newspaper headlines. They're playful, yet subversive in their exploration of urban experience.

Greg Curnoe

The nature of collage, using found materials for something other than their original purpose, has undertones of chaos and transgression, and Curnoe's works attest to that, but their beauty is also linked to their exquisite materiality. Particularly, a piece featuring bus transfers presents the altered pieces as though they were a delicate butterfly collection. On a different level, the bright colours of backing papers that support the collages, and the vibrant inks used in the rubber-stamp pieces lend the works a classic Pop Art feeling. Overall, it's a bright and relevant show; a nice reminder of the value of analog cut-and-paste.

Strata: New Work by Jessica Eaton, Nov. 18 - Dec. 18 at Red Bull 381 Projects

Jessica Eaton

Remarkable precision, colour experiments, and cubic shapes, photographs by Jessica Eaton, at first glance, resemble geometric paintings or Photoshop sleight of hand, but are neither; in fact, they couldn't be more photographic. The artist uses light -- the essential component of photography-- along with colour filters and cubes to create made-to-be-photographed constructions. The shapes and colours of light are strange yet regular; basic yet inspired.

Jessica Eaton Art

Also pertinent is Eaton's concern with the surface of things, and her flattening of a cube into a two-dimensional image. The push and play on viewing and perception is what makes Strata a must-see show. However, if I hadn't come prepared with information about Eaton's in-camera process, my reading of the images wouldn't have been as rich. Her use of pure light (as opposed to digital post-production) is arguably the most important element in the works, and the gallery should provide some contextual background to clarify.

As a side note, this is probably the last show at Red Bull 381 Projects, due to planned expansion of the Red Bull offices, which house and help fund the gallery. Luckily, curator Nicholas Brown has other projects in store, including something for Nuit Blanche in 2011, so we haven't seen the last of his curatorial touch.

Writing and photography by Elena Potter.

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