Matt Crookshank’s Endless Painting proves the value of not giving up on a work.
MATT CROOKSHANK at General Hardware Contemporary (1520 Queen West), to December 8. 416-821-3060. See listing. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Canadian painter Matt Crookshank isn't afraid to fail. In fact, his no-holds-barred, confrontational approach is what results in the wild hits and misses that make his abstracts so bold and unusual.
Crookshank's large and small canvases are full of conflicting elements, even on the material level. Works in this solo show, The Unlikely Event, contrast thick impasto smears with shallow areas of poured resin. Some materials chemically rebel against the surrounding paint, causing areas of seething geologic upheaval on the surface. In others, geometric lines and colours borrowed from digital technology clash with earthier tones and explosions of primary colours.
They often bring to mind cosmic creation and upheaval, the birth and death of stars, galaxies and planets.
While many of his marks could be called gestural, Crookshank is also invested in the accretion of paint on canvas. Endless Painting, for instance, came about after he'd abandoned it, using it as the place to dump the residue of other paintings in progress.
"I hated it," he admitted recently, "and had given up on it entirely. Then one day it came alive and I started to work on it again. Now I realize that hating a painting is a vital part of putting me on the road to a successful work."
The show highlights his older work as well as his most recent. The front of the gallery features two brand new paintings that veer away from his earlier sculptural layering and opt instead for a flatter but no less electric accumulation of warring visual layers.
They represent a new direction for a painter who wants to surprise himself, fusing an organic sensibility and faith in his process with a broad and confident visual vocabulary.