ELICSER at Le Gallery (1183 Dundas West), to July 29. 416-532-8467. Rating: NNNN
Elicser's new show of sculpture and paintings in Will Kucey's Le Gallery is more understated than you'd expect. Known for his larger murals and tags across town, especially in the Queen West area, Elicser (whose real name is Jabari Elliott) demonstrates that he's able to scale down without diluting his unique style and gritty wit.
There's a wealth of fine detail and an amazingly well-honed feeling for line and composition in this show. Every element is flavoured by the blocky and stylized imperative of graffiti, balancing blurred intensity and the thick line of the graphic novel.
Drawing and painting on found surfaces (bits of discarded Formica and chipboard, wooden and cardboard boxes, even strips of curled paper), he conveys his urban roots in neat, well-thought-out assemblages.
Hustling across these salvaged surfaces are figures struggling through the usual problems: urban decay, racism, war, poverty and crime. They're tense, haunted and perpetually on edge, blurred in mid-motion or stuck between eras and mediums.
Bits of text, advertising or photos are added to these images to suggest the complex patina of a downtown wall. Historical and media references abound, cryptic tags appear in tiny details, and there are a few shout-outs to Elicser's own circle of family and friends.
Other images are unmistakably political. In one painting, a man fires a revolver out of the left side of the canvas, only to have the shot return from the opposite side and through both his temples.
It's a grim visual parable of violent karma in action.
These three-dimensional models of our fears and struggles work their own karma as well, recycling the discarded debris of the streets into art.
It's sharp work direct from the street, urban through and through.