VLAD SPICANOVIC at Birch Libralato Gallery (129 Tecumseth), to September 8. 416-365-3003. Rating: NN
Hordes of cineastes will soon descend on Toronto. And hundreds of them are capable, if not savvy, when it comes to film-tech tools, from HD cameras to CGI.
But could any of them storyboard the emotional impact of a film, rather than its plot? And use abstract shapes rather than human figures to do so?
Even Scorsese would find this a challenge. But it's a project that local artist and OCAD instructor Vlad Spicanovic attempts in his series Painted Cinema. Spicanovic's courage is admirable. Whether he succeeds at the task is another matter.
At first glance, viewers might make connections between movies and these long, horizontal, multi-panel paintings by matching their linear, left-to-right quality with the structure of typical film plots. Dark panels at the right end of a few approximate, perhaps, a kind of fade-out?
The artist's statement suggests that these can also be viewed as records of process, intensely personal translations of his decades of film studies, as his own artistic Babelfish. (They're also, in part, elegies to the artist's late father, who made the family's home movies.)
A few works stand out, like the yellow-themed Summer Bioskop, with its raw linen matrix grounding the piece. And the dark webs of Nocturno-Industry contextually channel an effective film noir feel.
However interesting its academic and personal goals, Painted Cinema's result still reads more as an exploration of the standard painting concerns of line, colour and form than as a meditation on cinematic experience. It's more Kandinsky than C.R.A.Z.Y.
But if you're jonesing to trade in the celeb popcorn scene for something a little more highbrow (and lo-fi), you might want to check it out.