Ryan McGinness's Big Bang Amnesia probes seductive contemporary icons.
Artcore/Fabrice Marcolini (55 Mill, Pure Spirits Building 62), to November 15. 416-920-3820. Rating: NNNN
Ryan McGinness is the sort of art star Everyman New York produces every 10 years.
Starting out as a designer of skateboards, T-shirts and sneakers, he's expanded his earlier concepts into fine art featuring exploded bits of cast-off pop culture silk-screened onto canvases in bright, hallucinatory pastels.
In Aesthetic Comfort, his first Canadian solo show, McGinness redeploys the notion of flatness in painting with casual equanimity. Yet he's not extending a formal concept just to be glib; he's opening a window onto an utterly equalized 21st-century culture where everything coexists on the same plane.
Brands, icons, symbols and emoticons from every corner of contemporary experience swim on the same surface like so many floaters in your field of vision. This polyglot of contemporary symbols and signage is given the sexy gloss of a Prada ad. Like so many things you see nowadays, it makes you feel attracted, repelled, confused and called upon to reach for your wallet all at once.
Needless to say, there are some Warholian tropes at work. The unapologetic commercialism ("Products are the new art," McGinness has said), the unabashed love of surface beauty, along with Warhol's technique of repeated elements are all at work here.
Half-weighty/half-jokey titles like Free Will Illusion and Big Bang Amnesia (in glorious black-lit diamond-dust-impregnated paint) hint at some philosophical content tempered by requisite deadpan humour.
McGinness's juggling of so many elements betrays his visual talent, however. You don't throw this much together and make it look so pretty by accident.
In giving us this stylized mirror of our membrane-thin, symbol-saturated, instant-message culture, he's telling us lots about ourselves.