Rating: NNNNif you dislike those stodgy old portraits whose stern eyes follow your every move, then Napoleon Brousseau's latest show.
if you dislike those stodgy old portraits whose stern eyes follow your every move, then Napoleon Brousseau’s latest show is for you. The subjects have no eyes. In fact, the subjects are barely subjects.With this series of portraits, Brousseau departs from the very dark pieces of his previous show at Angell. The new images are a bombardment of colour digitally manipulated to make each sitter an afterthought within his or her surroundings.
In fact, thanks to the miracle of Photoshop, the subject of each portrait is reduced to an outline filled with background elements.
In one piece, art writer Gary Michael Dault sits at a table in front of a bookcase in his home.
The critic has become little more than a collection of books, barely distinguishable from his library.
In another portrait, artist and friend Italo Abate sits on a couch in his studio, a clutter of colour filling his outline and three pugs vying for space on his lap. Brousseau has cut and pasted elements from elsewhere in the studio to fill the background to overflowing.
The portraits of his own family are particularly engaging. Daughter Leah is pictured in an acid-washed version of a toy store, resting triumphantly on a bicycle. His wife, Tara, is posed in the meat aisle of a supermarket, gingerly holding a packaged slab of meat. Thanks to Brousseau’s digital manipulation, she’s been coloured in beef tones.
The delight and intimacy in these portraits signal Brousseau’s mastery of whatever medium he decides to tackle.
Napoleon Brousseau at Angell Gallery (890 Queen West) to March 23. 416-530-0444. Rating: NNNN