Critics’ Picks

View of “De-Accessioned,” 2012–13.

Toronto

“De-Accessioned”

Cooper Cole
1134 Dupont Street
December 14 - January 19

This is a surprisingly ambitious group show that doesn’t deal with deaccessioning as a reality (à la Michael Asher) but instead mines that term for the institutional mystery and intrigue it suggests. Deaccessioning is the shadowy process whereby museums get rid of works in their collections. As such, many of the works in this show are packed for transport—either rolled up, crated, stacked, or leaning against the walls. While some pieces overlap (notably Laura McCoy’s thickly worked foamcore boards resting within Georgia Dickie’s tape outlines), even those that are relatively clearly displayed are still essentially submerged into artist-cum-“curator” Lucas Soi’s overarching image of the show.

Operating like Louise Lawler in reverse, Soi arranged this show like a studio photographer composing an allegorical image of one of a museum’s darkest secrets. He even added crates when most of the work probably arrived at the gallery in the back of a cab. This sculptural intervention makes clear the disingenuous nature of Soi’s claim to “curate.” His decision to deploy Matthew Brown’s paintings rolled up and arranged on the floor as a grille or grating speaks to this as well, revealing him, in this exhibition at least, to be a sculptor more at ease working materially with the work of others.

The reversals—between paintings becoming sculptures and those sculptures themselves existing somehow “photographically,” almost posed as in a portrait studio—produces a fascinating aura of fake candor that through clear insincerity manages to release a weirdly affecting emotive yelp. Ultimately, it is this collision of confidence with insecurity, bubbling up from many of the tentative paintings themselves, which gives the show its own life.