Richard Rhodes

  • Becky Singleton

    Becky Singleton’s book-work entitled Four Dials, 1990, assembles in a single multi-sleeved case four of her “What Can I Say” dials made between 1984 and 1989. The dials look like palm-size picture-sizing wheels, each made of two cardboard circles riveted together at the center. The smaller top circle is cut through with a window and is meant to be revolved over the larger bottom wheel. The outer rim poses various rhetorical questions and the window on the inner rim selects the appropriate answer.

    In Dial #2, the following questions appear: “What can I say on reaching out to grasp the Truth?” “

  • Robert Pellegrinuzzi

    Roberto Pellegrinuzzi deconstructs photography into sculptural theater. He combines objects—photo-sculptures, really—with large, conventionally presented photographs. His work exhibits a high degree of formal self-consciousness. Pellegrinuzzi links this formal self-absorption to a statement about photography’s ultimate solipsism, its unreliability as a record of reality.

    Much recent photographic practice is predicated on such a negative reading. Photography’s illusion of transparency, its false immediacy, its spurious representational authority become working assets in the context of post-Modern

  • Tadishi Kawamata

    Tadashi Kawamata’s outdoor installation at Documenta 8, with its stylized wooden scaffolding built in and around the bombed-out ruins of a Kassel church, made an impressive and poignant war monument. Its splintered boards and unsteady, ramshackle appearance recaptured a sense of one single, terrible moment of collapse under Allied bombing. The piece became a pathway back to that 45-year-old experience, underscoring the lingering impress of the war and its physical and emotional devastation. It took advantage of its own access to 20th-century history and to one of the sites of that history’s

  • Ron Martin

    Ron Martin is probably English Canada’s most noted abstractionist and this traveling exhibition focuses on his best-known paintings: the one-color works from 1971 to 1981. These pictures started out as gestural exercises in ultramarine blue and bright red and then settled down into an eight-year investigation with black acrylic paint. The black paintings represent another ne plus ultra of reductivism. They proffer a four-part equation between paint, canvas, gesture, and reception that pares painting back to its barest bones. Their essentialism refers to a transcendental formalism intent on

  • Colette Whiten

    Colette Whiten’s new work investigates the colluded relationship between political power and the media. All eight pieces shown here rely on wire-service photos for their stock imagery. The heroic codes submerged in these images are underscored to construct a critique of photojournalism as a latter-day style of court painting. All this is familiar territory in appropriation art, but Whiten goes one step further in signaling a cool, wary detachment from her subject. She leaves behind the photographic realm entirely: her photos are worked out in elaborate cross-stitch needlepoint.

    Whiten’s is a

  • Ian Wallace

    This exhibition featured 11 works dating from 1970 to 1987. Its 18-year span coincided with the studied breakdown of “object” art by conceptualism and post-conceptualism. Ian Wallace’s photography-based work has been an important manifestation of post-Pop documentarism, yet it also outlines a conceptualist revisionism that underscores a significant shift in the tone and practice of photographic work.

    Early pieces such as Pan-Am Scan, 1970, and La mélancolie de la rue, 1973, have a gritty, documentary feel; they recall the unabashed enthusiasm with which photography was taken up by artists looking

  • Susan Schelle, Mark Gomes

    For the past few years, the Toronto Sculpture Garden has been a testing ground for public sculpture in the city. Its program gives younger, gallery-based sculptors a chance to show their work in a prominent public site. Although gallery sculpture has shifted toward documentary and representational issues over the past decade, it doesn’t necessarily follow that this “public” tilt translates into work that would benefit a public space. Expectations and interest have been high for the garden, yet it has seen a lot of weatherized indoor art—wrong for the site both in scale and intensity (too small,

  • Sorel Cohen

    Eleven years ago, Sorel Cohen photographed someone making a bed and then made these pictures into a series that linked housework to the repressed history of women’s art. The approach, given the subject, might have been cool, documentary, polemical. But using a slow shutter-speed on her camera, Cohen instead showed blurred figures cracking bed sheets into soft, bucking arabesques. Here was a slinky romanticism that injected play, sex, and passion into the middle of a buttoned-up political argument. Since then Cohen has kept this sensuous aspect of her work closely guarded. Her photographs have

  • Robin Collyer

    As time goes by, it’s the scale of Robin Collyer’s sculpture that seems contentious. His work is strangely “between size” in the conventional sense: too big to be anything other than awkward, yet too small to seem really ambitious. It tries hard—but not too hard—in realizing itself as a “presence” in the room. It’s as if the scale, treading between this little thing and that grand thing, incorporated a lazy yawn.

    This lazy yawn is a masterful touch. Careless and indulgent, self-deprecating, even humble, it sets exactly the right mood for engaging Collyer’s subject matter, which extends to

  • Janice Gurney

    The silent-film stills and the turn-of-the-century archival photographs that Janice Gurney reproduces in her work carry a lingering sentimentality. So does the way she crops her images and formats her text, recalling old snapshots mounted and captioned in Victorian albums. These contribute to a comfortable, bookish feel in her work. The format of image and text—no stranger to appropriation art—evokes the act of reading and invests textuality as an alternate world parallel to primary experience. The polemical edge common to the genre is perhaps a result of this. Theory substitutes for performance,

  • Shirley Wiitasalo

    Shirley Wiitasalo came into her own as a New Image painter in the ’70s. At the time, formalism was a decade past its prime and, according to many in the art world, painting was dead. Shunning the formalist approach, Wiitasalo and others set about transposing issues like two-dimensionality and objecthood into ironic images and pursuing a type of painting based on a representational visual language and a more intimate scale. It was clever, educated, and casual, and underscored a resurgence of improvisational subjectivity.

    Wiitasalo’s earlier work was not included in this midcareer retrospective (

  • Brian Boigon

    In an installation called Mondrian's Holiday, 1983, Brian Boigon sent up Modernism's most famous hater of green. A white garden chair, a tall highball glass, a folded towel, and a funky portable radio conjured the master in wet swimming trunks, staring into the blue, away from an unpainted paint-by-number landscape drawn in outline on the wall. Although the point was elusive, the piece was good fun, offering what at the time was a welcome tone of address.

    The question is whether the welcome is wearing thin. Boigon's new work is fun and irreverent too. He has put together a series of constructions

  • “From Sea to Shining Sea”

    This exhibition, curated by A. A. Bronson—a member of General Idea and founder of Art Metropole, an artist's book center—marked the 20th anniversary of artist-run spaces in Canada. The title is an ironic translation of A mari usque ad mare, the motto that stretches on a scroll between the British lion and the French unicorn on the Canadian coat of arms (ironic, because Bronson has borrowed the English phrase from the anthem “America the Beautiful”).

    Bronson wants us to forget the Canada of forests, plains, mountains, and tundra. Instead he wants us to think about Canada as it’s represented in a

  • Jeff Wall

    Jeff Wall’s boxed-in, backlit, Cibachrome images have a crisp, clear sense of trespass. His format—appropriated from the world of advertising—takes ultrastudied, art-historically derived images across the line that separates media culture from high art.

    This is sacrosanct territory for appropriation art: the place where art and commerce conduct proprietorial battle over the image. Wall’s contribution is in making an appropriation art that refuses to settle the score, refuses almost to play the game. All that’s left is a kind of brute visibility, an image where the ideological constructs of

  • Robert Wiens

    Sculptor Robert Wiens is more of a polemicist than a poet. His work is about the big political subjects—torture, censorship, militarism, poverty. But Wiens is canny about his political content. He knows that the topicality of such subjects can seem like headline hunting, borrowing emotion and misfortune that often have little to do with the work itself. It’s a problem of safe worlds looking at sad worlds—of authenticity—and Wiens is careful to account for his place and his projections in the midst of the larger political realm. This gives his work its moral tone. He brings the headlines back

  • Noel Harding

    The high-tech componentry in Noel Harding’s sculpture is distinguished by its ability to resist a quick descent into sci-fi. While it’s as slick, polished, and alienating as any high tech, Harding presents it so that it seems no more strange than a remote control for a VCR For him, high tech is a sign of the familiar.

    Harding has incorporated this kind of hardware into his work since the late ’70s—earlier if you count his work in video, where working with high tech is the norm. His first sculptures were mechanized environments that seemed like science projects but managed to convey a domestic

  • Robert McNealy

    Robert McNealy’s installations can seem like junkyard inventories. Each is an odd assortment of rough-looking objects plunked down on the gallery floor. McNealy’s anthropology background—before he started making sculpture he did postgraduate work in anthropology, going on a dig in Central America—accounts for the work’s fundamental fragmentariness. Out of his concatenations of broken, found, and remade images and objects McNealy attempts to trace the outlines of the dismembered superstructure of a culture.

    This fragmentariness links the work with much recent British sculpture. But unlike, for