Dan Adler

  • View of Scott Lyall, “The Color Ball,” 2008, Power Plant, Toronto.

    Scott Lyall

    “THE COLOR BALL”—Scott Lyall’s most ambitious exhibition to date—might be seen as a culminating event for a young conceptualist whose oeuvre has been increasingly recognized for its formally sophisticated resistance to the workings of the culture industry. Curated by the Power Plant’s director, Gregory Burke, the show took the form of a single installation resembling an entertainment venue or stage set, seen before a performance or a fete of some kind. This condition of anticipation lent a feeling of temporal displacement to a display that did not contain “finished” products. Rotating

  • Harold Edgerton, Atomic Bomb ca. 1952 (Joshua Trees), 1952, gelatin silver print, 11 x 14".

    “The Quick and the Dead”

    Central to the modernist project has been a methodical questioning of our basic assumptions about the nature of the universe, which this show positions specifically in relation to contemporaneous scientific research on phenomena such as the big bang and black holes.

    Central to the modernist project has been a methodical questioning of our basic assumptions about the nature of the universe, which this show positions specifically in relation to contemporaneous scientific research on phenomena such as the big bang and black holes. In turn, fundamental existential and metaphysical questions—What is space? What is time?—are reposed by artists and philosophers alike, opening up radically new perspectives on knowledge and experience. Unusual in its historical breadth, with more than eighty works from 1933 to the present, the show is accompanied

  • Spring Hurlbut, Airborne, 2008, still from a color video, 19 minutes 40 seconds.
    picks November 21, 2008

    Spring Hurlbut

    Set in a darkened room, Spring Hurlbut’s hypnotic video Airborne (all works 2008) begins with a woman wearing a mask—presumably for protection from toxic chemicals—gently removing the lid from a container. Its dusty contents waft through the air. One might first associate this dispersal of hazardous particles with a terrorist act, such as 9/11 or a letter laced with anthrax powder. However, after instigating this smoky event, the woman leaves the scene. Her absence suggests a laboratory space in which rates of evaporation or combustion are recorded by the camera’s cold and objective gaze. This

  • Kelly Richardson

    In this exhibition, Kelly Richardson toyed with the limits of photography and video while playing with the notion of the manufactured landscape. The photographs Scene Setter #3 and Scene Setter #4 (both 2008), for example, depict lush picturesque lakes bordered by trees in an environment imbued with the artificial (the perspective appears slightly askew; the blue sky so flat and unmodulated as to imply digital enhancement). Unfortunately, however, the images are too subtly manipulated to stray far from a sentimental postcard aesthetic.

    Scene Setter #1 and Scene Setter #2 (both 2008), however,

  • Geoffrey Farmer

    Geoffrey Farmer’s video The Fountain People, 2008, consists of footage of a fountain located in front of an escalator, most likely in an upscale shopping center. While waiting for some narrative to commence, and perhaps for the titular characters to appear, one must make do with the banal sight of spouting water, the dull glow of lights underwater, and the sedating stream of Muzak. In the accompanying installation, the two typewritten pages affixed to the wall provide little interpretive guidance but allude to strange aquatic forces that covertly watch, surround, and transform in ways analogous

  • Paulette Phillips

    ENTREZ LENTEMENT. That warning is accompanied, in Paulette Phillips’s prints Knock Knock One, Two, and Three (all works 2008), by images of overlapping photographs depicting a building’s interior. Blurred details and small holes in each of these suggest that they are snapshots—perhaps once pinned to a studio wall—that have been scanned and enlarged against colored paper. Typical of the artist’s pictures, the work combines enticing visual features—in this instance, a shiny surface and collage aesthetic—with an ambiguous narrative.

    An association between domestic architecture and the uncanny is

  • Signs of Life; an intimate portrait of someone I don't know (detail), 2008, mixed media, dimensions variable.
    picks May 16, 2008

    Yvonne Singer

    The title of Yvonne Singer’s installation, Signs of Life; an intimate portrait of someone I don’t know, 2008, may at first seem misplaced, as the piece is mostly composed of numerical and bureaucratic documentation. The value of Singer’s project resides in the capacity of this impersonal information to speak to the patient viewer on emotive, aesthetic, and metaphoric levels.

    Affixed to one wall are three long rows of hand-rendered charts that laboriously trace medication use over the course of over ten years. Scrawled at the top of several of the graph-paper sheets is the word PREDNISONE, a

  • Contamination 152/153, 2007, color photograph, 33 x 41".
    picks May 13, 2008

    Arnaud Maggs

    Arnaud Maggs’s series “Contamination,” 2007, consists of photographs of water-damaged pages from an aged ledger book. The exhibited images contain no recorded transactions. Given this lack of information, the marks that are present on the delicately frayed paper take on metaphoric values that are surprisingly rich. This semantic wealth is made possible in part because Maggs has enlarged the book spreads to a scale conducive to the detailed and respectful viewing of an artifact that has obviously suffered.

    Each picture features a pair of facing pages with images that mirror each other: straight

  • Kadar Brock

    Night Time Is the Right Time, Radar Love, and Electric Avenue (all works 2007) were the largest and most arresting pictures on view in Kadar Brock’s recent solo exhibition of abstract paintings, “You Only Live Once.” And despite their sentimentalizing pop-music titles, there was indeed the danger of meeting a clangorous end from cardiac arrest when initially confronted by this discordant mélange of techniques, styles, and colors.

    First drawn to the canvases’ garish fluorescent yellows and pinks, the eye then wanders anxiously among an array of layered, juxtaposed, and overlapping geometric shapes.

  • Marla Hlady

    Marla Hlady takes apart and rebuilds machines that make sounds. In recent years she has been preoccupied with rigging domestic objects, including toy drummers and teapots, to produce unexpected tones. Playing Piano, 2007, an installation shown recently at YYZ Artists’ Outlet, represents a shift toward a larger scale and a more accessible context. Striking in its complex barrage of visual and musical stimuli, the work consists of a late-1920s player piano with keyboard and bellows compressor removed (here to the front of the exhibition space). The parts still function to produce an audible rhythm,

  • Tapered Window, 2007, oil on canvas, 60 x 50".
    picks March 26, 2008

    Martin Golland

    Each of Martin Golland’s recent paintings is based on a photograph taken by the artist of an architectural environment. The works frequently focus on entrances, windows, and other peripheral areas of buildings, which, treated by Golland as backdrops for gestural mark-making, yield unexpected metaphoric qualities. The composition of Tapered Window, 2007, is dominated by a diagonal wall adorned with a troubling array of bloody stains, scruffy white flourishes, and passages of fecal brown. Beyond the wall is a room with a window framed by what looks like blond wood—a chromatic contrast to surroundings

  • Graham Gillmore

    THANKS FOR NOTHING-NESS: The words are carved in rounded block letters, into a glossy, enamel-painted wooden panel. True to its word, Graham Gillmore’s Thanks for Nothing (Ness), 2007, features . . . nothing else. But despite the dearth of imagery, there is plenty of visual interest here: in the controlled aggression of the excavated picture plane, in the delicate shadows cast within each letter, and in the tiny dots that result from the heat emitted by the artist’s router. All these features lend an unexpected gravitas to the otherwise dismissive phrase, the sarcastic tone of the underlined “