Dear VoCA readers,
Should VoCA be more critical?
I’m starting to feel (again) that Toronto is one big artistic love-in, when the fact is that a lot of art being made today is just not very good. (Thank you Jerry Saltz for backing me up on this.) The danger is that really good work is being sidelined at the expense of ‘hip’, ‘young’ ‘witty’ conceptual work that is neither important nor well-executed.
I went to Sitting Pretty, the new show at Red Bull Projects in Toronto last night.
There was work by Stephen Appleby-Barr, Paul Butler, The Collecting Collective, Tibi Tibi Neuspiel, and Kara Uzelman. I think Nicholas Brown is a talented curator, but the work left me cold. Sure, it was neat to see pieces of moldy toast made from beeswax with images of everyone from Hitler to Mother Teresa (seriously) burned into them. But is this work that really matters? Did the artist Tibi Tibi Neuspiel make the work with any kind of emotional involvement? If so, there was none left by the time it went on display.
The photograph by Vancouver’s Collecting Collective was far less interesting than the wall label, which described the collective as consisting of a number of Vancouver-based artists (including Cedric Bomford and Arabella Campbell) and the Toronto-based artist Mark Dudiak, “who also perform the roles of collector-patrons, financing projects and building a private collection of work by other artists, while maintaining a corporate-minded approach to the means of production and expression.” I realize that that’s the point, but then why have the photograph there at all?
Thank goodness for Stephen Appleby-Barr’s small, intricately painted Royal Art Lodge-esque oils, which were a welcome relief.
VoCA believes in the importance of criticism and tries to recommend the best (and only the best) work being made in Canada. We must all learn to support the art scene while celebrating the best, and exposing the worst. That’s a critic’s job. Of course, that’s only possible if you have confidence in what is good and what’s not.
For more info on the exhibition, which opened last night and runs until 5 December, please click HERE.