Michael Caines at Zsa Zsa (962 Queen West) to January 31. 416-893-0986. Rating: NNN
naked boys and naked apes make good playmates. That's the message in Toronto artist Michael Caines's new set of handsome drawings. In this curious coupling of man and beast -- a kind of Gorillas In The Mist-meets-Porky's -- Caines makes our fellow primates man's best friend. Adolescent boys lie in repose as their primate friends service them in banal ways -- tying their sneakers or ordering a pizza. Caines represents the chummy chimps et al. as social, domesticated mammals, blasé in their performance of invisible family rituals.
In one especially well-executed drawing, a young man reclines with a placid and hairy orangutan. They look really happy, as if neither will ever sadly be forced to grow up and tend to facial hair or pay for drinks.
Caines's drawings are as skilfully and tenderly realized as his paintings. A departure from the drama of last year's large-scale gorilla paintings (which verged on sentimentality), these fresh drawings accentuate his mischievous sensibilities.