These days looking at art means traversing the city and facing down the sea of red tail lights in every west bound artery. Is all this frantic activity due to the mild winter and El Nino? No! It was explained to me that the reason it is so hard to get around by car in Toronto these days is because the streets are clogged with swarms of UberX drivers. Endlessly cruising up and down Queen Street, they will not go home. They need the money.
Birch Contemporary – Sexish
The subject of ‘sex and women’ is fraught with a legion of competing agendas, all the time and everywhere. It’s kind of comforting to know that in a world where women can be stoned to death for sexual transgression, in this country artists (men and women) are free to explore pretty much any sexual subject matter they can come up with. One option is the light touch and the glance of the coquette. Sexish, the title of the (all female) group show at Birch Contemporary largely takes this approach, and like many of the artworks in the exhibition, the title is a bit, well, coy.
Images of tightly crossed knees by Maryanne Casasanta or flouncy skirts by Cathy Daley read as girlish, coltish, kittenish. Sex seems a long way off…although there are hints.
Artwork by Maryanne Casasanta
Two artworks by Cathy Daley
Using hand stitched embroidery on lovely found fabrics Orly Cogan depicts the eroticized domestic realm where home is a place to relax and get high.
“Saturday” by Orly Cogan
“Mirror Mirror” by Orly Cogan
Other artists in the show take on S&M imagery. Fresh, original paintings by Ilona Szalay have a very contemporary feel, although they reference what seems to be a reenactment of Victorian prurience.
“Girl and Graffiti” by Ilona Szalay
Janet Werner‘s painting of the back of woman’s head transmits a subtle shock. First we examine the voluptuous coiffure and then the freakishly attenuated neck and damaged ear. What happened here?
“Jo” by Janet Werner
Ceramic pieces by Julie Moon have a way of getting to the core of female attributes in a primal way. I liked the sense of ambiguity in this artist’s work. Hovering between nightmare and goddess the piece shown below holds a potent sexual charge.
“Flesh Pile (Side Pony)” by Julie Moon
In another ceramic piece with Surrealist antecedents, Julie Moon creates fascinating tension as delicate limbs emerge from a glutinous heap. Ruffles and a tender blue colour add to the horrifying sense of femininity caught in a grotesque trap.
“Bloomers” by Julie Moon
As the Sexish exhibition notes attest ideas about women and sexuality are “continuously evolving and unresolved.” Here the clamorous sex/women issues dominating the headlines are sidestepped or ignored and it makes for a refreshing change.
Taylor Swift’s Girl Squad
University of Oregon protest
Caitlyn Jenner in LA