Art Agenda: Team Macho at Narwhal, Brian Donnelly at Show & Tell and Nader Hasan at Whippersnapper
It's a trio of shows that superficially don't have much to do with each other, but then again, they might not have anything to do with each other on any other level either. Or maybe they do since they all deal in a very urban, and sometimes urbane, way with the conflicts between city existence and nature.
Team Macho at Narwhal Art Projects from October 28 - November 28
Toronto's infamous Team Macho are back at Narwhal with another display of their hipster folk art (for lack of a better term). For those who don't know who they are, they're basically the art world answer to the city's long tradition of absurdist sketch comedy groups.
This show is made up of more than 70 works in acrylics, resin covered panels, collages and watercolours. Anyone familiar with their past exhibits, or the solo works of the team's members, won't find much to be surprised about, but they could find plenty to be charmed by. Their mix of flat and kitschy Canadiana filled with pop art references, slightly macabre humour and lewd jokes are all present and accounted for. Included are assorted comic characters, underwear sailing ships, and the ubiquitous Star Wars battles in the verdant fields of rural Ontario.
Brian Donnelly at The Show & Tell Gallery from November 5 - 28
At Show & Tell, you can see nude human figures with pearl necklaces of paint hanging from their animal heads, posed like glamour models or grasping at birds. These are the images that have helped Brian Donnelly develop a following on the internet, but his works really have to be seen up close to be appreciated. Otherwise, they just read like Robert Bateman painting a pictorial for early 80s Hustler.
There's more to them than that though. Borrowing from the elaborately clean cut aesthetics of Alberto Vargas, he mashes together the glamour of porn with that of wildlife painting to make his slightly monstrous creations. But it is the mixing of the rough canvas with the shimmering surfaces of paint, and the glittery glare that he imbues the hair of his figures with, that is even more striking. The most impressive elements of the pieces, however, are probably his careful and anxious way of rendering hands and the fact that he leaves his pencil marks apparent on the figures.
Nader Hasan at The Whippersnapper Gallery from November 4 -27
Down the street at the new location of Whippersnapper, Montrealer Nader Hasan has a completely different approach to dealing with how people approach nature and the monstrosity that underlies daily life. The work is made up of taxidermied road kill (cats, birds, mice), decaying food, burned money, skulls and garbage. Flags are scattered on the floor and trail out the door. Glass is suspended at various heights to complicate the transparency of space and its relation to objects. An array of bird wings float in the air without any trace of their bodies left.
In his artist talk, Hasan went to great anecdotal length to situate the anarchistic significance of his work and insist on the highly self-conscious ethical weight be gives to using these remnants of life. It's about using refuse to refuse the commodity status of the art object. It's also about getting people who wouldn't normally go to a gallery involved and creating a different kind of interaction between the creator and the public. So if you stop by to see it, Hasan might be there to debate the piece with you, or you can just call him. His number is on the display window.
Also this week:
You can catch Arnaud Maggs' fabulously spare exhibit "The Dada Portraits" at Susan Hobbs which renders the founders of DADA using architectural diagrams for portraiture. In a nice touch, all of the women in the movement are kept upstairs. And famed London based sculptor, and member of The Nihilist Spasm Band, Murray Favro's new show opens at Christopher Cutts.
First and third images of Nader Hasan's exhibit at Whippersnapper courtesy of Istoica.
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