nils-UDO and lorne wagman at DeLeon White Gallery (1096 Queen West) to September 8. 416-597-9466. Rating: NNNN
deleon white's converted garage space on the edge of Parkdale is the ideal setting for work by two artists with very different approaches to nature art.Bavarian artist Nils-Udo has been active in environmental art since the 60s. Call his work earth art, installation art, performance art, disposable art -- or, as he prefers, "landscape montages" -- but in Nils-Udo's world, nature takes centre stage, with the artist as intervenor.
The 14 exquisite cibachrome prints on view are large-scale photo-documents of his montages created out of found plant materials that link landscape, horticulture and art. This is the only way most of us will ever see a Nils-Udo construction; like nature, his works are ephemeral, blown away by the next passing storm.
We're never quite sure what we're looking at. Ferns garlanded with rose petals become Christmas trees growing in a lake; empty sunflower calyxes filled with red, pink and yellow berries appear to float in thin air.
And like an offering to the gods, his tableaux are strewn with flower petals in shades of purple, nature's dominant flower colour -- a reminder that Nils-Udo's art is all about sensitizing us to our place in the big picture.
Landscape painter Lorne Wagman has been painting the weeds, rocks and skies in his own back yard -- most recently a 400-acre horse and cow farm in Bruce County -- for the past 30 years, and in much the same style.
He's upfront about the influences on his work -- Emily Carr and the Group of Seven, and Vincent Van Gogh -- and they're easy to spot, especially in the larger-than-life weed paintings. Burdock #1 (there are three versions, painted in different seasons) is a riotous tangle of lime-green leaves and grapey-purple stalks, the colours softly reflected in the sky.
A series of watercolours, including a nice rendering of moss growing on a rock, and ink drawings of horses feel less mannered than some of the large vegetation paintings, but they suffer from poor hanging.
The best work here is the smooth, shining Cloud Bank, which lifts the viewer up into the sky. Wagman smeared the layers of transparent paint onto the canvas with the side of his hand, a technique that gives the work an appealing looseness and marks a move in a new direction.