Nestor Kruger’s Oblivion can’t dominate the gallery space the way it should.
NESTOR KRUGER at Art Metropole (788 King West), to November 1 . 416-703-4400. Rating: NN
Last year, in a solo show at Goodwater Gallery on Queen East, Toronto artist Nestor Kruger built an ingenious plywood intrusion from the street into the gallery, totally changing the architecture and experience of the space.
Unfortunately, this exhibit at Art Metropole pales by comparison.
Two rectangular cases are placed opposite each other - one filled with water, the other with air. Accompanying these structures are two large rectangular prints in the vein of lithographs of old dressers - one white on black, the other black on white. Finally, near the entrance, there's a small circular array of black dots on the white wall.
Part of the problem is that in order for the piece to work, it needs a spare, pristine space it can dominate. Given such an environment, its reductive riff on emptiness and fullness, figure and ground, oblivion and existence would resonate a lot better.
But multiples-focused Art Metropole is not that kind of space. It's a cluttered, heterogeneous, colourful - and to be clear, utterly enjoyable in its own right - resource that offers its own artistic highlights. In fact, people should drop by to check out shop-display treats like Derek Liddington's Reading Machine for Dr. NO, Paige Gratland's Celebrity Lezbian Fist series and Tom Dean's spotted versions of old Globe and Mails. There's plenty of smaller stuff, like buttons and magazines, to linger over and enjoy, too.
Some might say the beauty of Kruger's work in this context is the uneasy combination of his high-end formal rigor with the more casual environment of Art Met. But really, I'd rather wait and see what he does when he has the total run of a space again.