Moira Clark at XEXE Gallery (624 Richmond West) through September 17. 416-646-2706. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
The back room of XEXE is home to a modest retrospective of Toronto painter Moira Clark 's work from the last 10 years. The thoughtful show consists of only 11 paintings but charts an intriguing artistic journey. It starts with her vibrant still lifes and chronicles her slow move toward a formal abstraction that hides traces of representation inside warm grids of colour.
All the work juxtaposes a strong sense of geometry and colour with representational objects that undergo this gradual shift. In the early paintings, objects in the foreground form as solid blocks against vibrant kinetic patterns.
In Sweetdish, attention to the op art grid in the background becomes a full-blown preoccupation, and the dish hovers ghostlike above it.
The focus on background, which borders on obsessive in this work, gives way to more serene abstraction in Shakespeare. In this handsome work, Clark matches each line of a Shakespeare sonnet with a band of color, using the visual form of the poem as a template while masterfully adding colour to the text.
It's a formal exercise in transposition in which space and colour are used more sparingly and expansively, recalling Paul Klee's attempts at painting music.
Her most recent paintings, inspired by landscape, show that Clark's ability to visually distill her surroundings has matured.
These paintings have a distinctly naturalistic feel in their balanced and quilted surfaces, especially in their portrayal of light, with tantalizing bits of horizon, cloud or ocean hinted at in unexpected areas.
Dust Devil could be a low-flying aerial view of square, bucolic fields as two lighter strands of color magically wend their way through them. It's a delicately balanced grid of colour that nevertheless fully evokes the sensual impact and space of land and sky.