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Toronto
Terence Dick
Tricia Middleton at Jessica Bradley | John Kissick & Sam Mogelonsky at Katzman Contemporary
September 16, 2014

Whenever I hear the name Tricia Middleton, I think of the Oakville Galleries exhibition of hers from 2012 that I missed and the stunning installation pictures that reinforce my regret. And then I think of all the exhibitions I’ve missed (mostly the good ones; I’m not so concerned with the average or the bad), especially the one-off, site-specific installations that will never be reproduced in quite the same way, if at all. Then I feel bummed and wonder what’s the point and think about how inconvenient and unlikely the whole artistic enterprise is, tied as it is, for the most part, to a highly selective, localized, and temporally brief series of displays that can’t be adequately reproduced. Though I supposed that’s what makes it special, giving each exhibition something of Walter Benjamin’s aura, and infusing my regret with more than mere consumer remorse.



Tricia Middleton

All this to say I made sure not to miss Middleton’s newly opened solo show at Jessica Bradley. Rather than present one of her immersive environments, the currently Paris-based artist fills the gallery with an assortment of unplinthed sculptures (for lack of a better term) that run the gamut from a roadside tribute of assembled brick-a-brack to body parts dumped amidst the scrub-brush to molten lumps to a collapsing cardboard ladder and a hanging bag piece that (along with a couple other things) draws some provocative connections with Luanne Martineau (who showed with Bradley in the past). There are also some text works on paper that may or may not serve as artist statements, but before I even think of those I want to dwell long and hard on the objects in the room and the multifarious objects buried within them. The closer you look, the more you find amid the detritus that has been redeemed in an intentionally semi-pathetic, semi-wondrous way by a uniform covering of candy-coloured wax that draws the eye it’s so sweetly confectious but also repels it’s so gooey and gross. Once you’ve had enough of the purely visual appeal of each work, there’s more than enough to keep you engaged with disentangling possible narratives that delve into surreal imagery and notions of the unformed, but be prepare to get down on your hands and knees to appreciate every little detail.



John Kissick

John Kissick is an elder statesman of post-Photoshop abstraction. His frenzied canvases paste a melee of dots over tubular mazes under splatters of sparkle paint alongside drips and pours of primer. The noise is glorious. The paintings currently on display at Katzman Contemporary are so whizz-bang-pow, they might even have too much personality. I'd have second thoughts bringing one home and worry that whenever guests would come over they'd want to spend more time with the canvas than me. I don’t know if I could meet the painting's exuberant demands, be the life of the party, sparkle so brightly. I'd probably have to put it in the front hall so it would greet newcomers with a boisterous “HOWDY-DO!”, but I can’t imagine eating dinner in front of it or having a casual conversation – I’d just want to keep looking at it and that would be rude.

Sam Mogelonsky’s equally anti-social but far more subdued sculptures are also on view. Their sequined surfaces are inviting but they hide an army of pins that threaten to draw blood with just a touch, which is a bit of a bummer after Kissick’s rollercoaster ride. I lean more to the works here that are just surface. I don’t need danger with my delight.


Jesscia Bradley: http://jessicabradleyinc.com/
Tricia Middleton: Making friends with yourself continues until November 8.

Katzman Contemporary: http://www.katzmancontemporary.com/
John Kissick: Sugar Won’t Work continues until October 11.
Sam Mogelongsky: Pins & Needles continues until October 11.


Terence Dick is a freelance writer living in Toronto. His art criticism has appeared in Canadian Art, BorderCrossings, Prefix Photo, Camera Austria, Fuse, Mix, C Magazine, Azure, and The Globe and Mail. He is the editor of Akimblog. You can follow his quickie reviews and art news announcements on Twitter @TerenceDick.

 

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