Pops! I played with the art. I couldn't help myself. Stephen Schofield's installation, Swell, at the Toronto Sculpture Garden just demands to be touched. Schofield inflates swollen biomorphic forms out of a flexible crystal plastic, then impales them on black iron bars and assembles everything to look like a modified jungle gym.
The whole thing is vaguely reminiscent of a bad schoolyard accident, with fantastical hybrid shapes resembling body parts, toys and even bits of food. It's a bit gruesome, but also erotic -- you want to caress the forms, play with them, even put them in your mouth.
So that's what I did. I grasped the phallic protuberance that popped out of a cross between a beach ball and a watermelon and gleefully spun the whole thing around; lasciviously ran my hands over the hilarious shapes that look like aroused four-leaf clovers; giggled guiltily as I licked the toes of the little legs sticking out of colourful globes.
Swell is even more fun than Niki de Saint Phalle's gloriously uninhibited fat Nanas or Guido Reni's naughty winged babies, and the longer you play with it, the funnier and sexier it gets.
It was only as I left the garden that I noticed the small but fierce sign: This Artwork For Viewing Only -- Please Avoid Contact. Fat chance. That's about as effective as a sign telling kids not to play doctor.
STEPHEN SCHOFIELD at the Toronto Sculpture Garden (115 King East), to September 15, open daily 8 am to dusk. 416-515-9658. Rating: NNN