Scott Griffin at Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects (1086 Queen West), to April 25. 416-537-8827. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Scott Griffin scavenges by day and makes art by night. You can see the results at his great new show, Off Line. Although he works in a variety of media, these pieces are all encaustic on wood.
To most of us, splintered, cracked and peeling shutters or panelling look like junk. But to Griffin they're ready-made landscapes. He finds the wood in the garbage, carefully selecting it for its interesting surface. He then paints men and women onto the wood with small, spare daubs of wax, leaving most of the original surface untouched yet magically transforming it into a street, a lake or even a subway platform.
A few of Griffin's pieces are too cute. Bag Ladies, for instance: women in dresses and pumps carrying handbags (get it?), painted on old bits of wainscotting. But the best work in the show has real emotional and conceptual depth.
In Floodgate, Griffin's taken a splintered old door complete with rusted handle, turned it on its side and painted it with women wearing brown bathing suits and bathing caps. All of a sudden the cracked blue paint covering the door looks like a sun-drenched lake in northern Ontario, overwhelming you with nostalgia.
I do have a problem with the artist's statement. Aside from containing meaningless phrases like "when I found out my desires were not my own, I went off line," it's written in that faux naive childlike scrawl you see everywhere these days.
Scott, your work is really good. Don't weaken the impact with silly stuff like that. It's strong enough to speak for itself.