“Rococo Tattoo”

The Power Plant

Subtitled “The Ornamental Impulse in Toronto Art,” “Rococo Tattoo” presents sixteen artists and collectives spanning the last decade of artmaking in Toronto. Some works, such as John Massey’s lithograph Compound Eye, 1988–89 (in which a horrific montage of faces spreads over a human eye), have already enjoyed a healthy exhibition history, while others, like the collective Fastwürms’ spectacular installation, were created especially for the show. The decorative is a new point of entry for many of the works—and this show succeeds precisely thanks to curator Philip Monk’s almost laissez-faire approach to his subject. He wisely chose to let the work stand on its own merits without having to serve a more staid set of curatorial issues.

Though references to the body coursed through the exhibition, human flesh was seldom encountered as a direct site of adornment. Only Douglas Walker’s photoprints

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