JUST MY IMAGINATION at MOCCA (Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, 952 Queen West), until August 21. 416-395-0067. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Whether the end result is a masterpiece or a mall, great ideas often manifest themselves first as quick sketches that retain something raw, something closer to the imagination, than the final product. London, Ontario-based guest curtors David Merritt and Kim Moodie seek to showcase artists who make drawing a core part of their practice.
As a medium unto itself, drawing seems most compelling either when it retains that unpolished immediacy or is the product of a particular obsession. Not all the 14 artists in Just My Imagination catch on, but two really do.
Jason McLean's apocalyptic The Valley Beneath The Sun depicts a world of destruction, complete with a soundtrack. A skull-faced sun palmed in the black hand of God shoots beams to a mirror on an iron tower as mountains and creatures writhe around it. Rendered in black lines, shades of grey and pale yellow for the sunlight, the drawing reveals a discipline focused not on form but on impulse. In his unique way, McLean depicts an entire cosmos of loaded symbols that seem to defy explanation, though it's filled with labels and clues.
As for obsession, Stephen Andrews pulls it off best. Though not drawing from his imagination per se, he sinks into its meditative feel with The Quick And The Dead, inspired by a video clip of a soldier dousing a fire while a body lies motionless on the ground.
Each frame is drawn in several colours of crayon on parchment over a dotted fibreglass surface, resulting in a low-resolution comic book look. He then recreates the video in crayon animation, on view with 24 of his still images.
The obviously insane amount of time it took to produce this work reflects a deep level of speculation about military violence, and it invites you to share his obsession in a very striking way.