with these half-dozen largeand lively oil paintings, Elizabeth Bailey has met the challenge of portrait painting -- to record the likeness of subjects in the short period of time you can get them to sit still.It's a bit of an experiment for the Toronto artist and, amazingly, all the big works in the show -- straightforward portraits of friends, family and fellow artists reading, relaxing or working in their homes and studios -- were painted since November.
Bailey has a wonderful facility for depicting not only skin and flesh but the materials -- clothing, furniture, walls -- that make up each person's visual world.
The face of a young girl in a family group is as perfectly painted as in an Old Master and shines with that new-skin look children have.
And you can feel the dryness of old age in a painting of the artist's mother posed on her piano bench between plaster heads of Mozart and Beethoven.
Bailey follows the traditions of portraiture without letting herself get bogged down by them. Once she's solved the problem of capturing her sitter's likeness, she loosens up, lets go and has fun with the backgrounds and edges, painting a huge chesterfield inky blue, slapping on colour, adding wide black-and-white stripes to an easy chair.
The paintings are successful because the artist doesn't try for anything more than making simple records of people inhabiting pictorial designs. And small details, like an untied shoelace wiggling across the floor, add the kind of emotional accuracy you just can't capture with a firstname.lastname@example.org
elizabeth bailey at Loop (1174 Queen West) to January 26. 416-516-2581. Rating: NNNN