IN-SEX 2 at Spin Gallery (1100 Queen West, second floor) until August 14. 416-530-7656. Rating: NNN
It's reasonable to think that sex must have been one of the first subjects of art. Consider the 28,000-year-old life-size siltstone phallus archaeologists recently unearthed in a German cave. Although it allegedly doubled as a tool for breaking up chunks of flint, the labour of carving and polishing it illuminates the desire of its creator.
Spin Gallery's follow-up to the 2003 In-Sex show continues the tradition. As a whole, this exhibit would have been tighter if all the work shown had been created specifically for the exhibit, but it's absorbing to see such variety.
Some artists address the politics of representation, such as Leif Harmsen , who claims that like beauty, pornography is in the eye of the beholder. His pool_bj.jpg distorts an image of two men engaged in a sun-drenched blow job by enlarging a very low-resolution digital picture into a big oil painting. Five hundred fifty squares of blue, black, beige and brown paint only get graphic when you step back and squint.
Others express primal desire through their own unique styles.
Istvan Zsako casts three bronze sculptures that blend claymation-like characters with the form of ancient phallic sculptures, while his son Balint Zsako explores sex through 47 ink-and-watercolour drawings. Women appear in religious attire with holes exposing erogenous zones, and there's a man with eight erections stemming from his head, hands and groin, each sprouting a daisy.
Fiona Smyth paints an acrylic diptych, black on black and white on pink, using her fascinating cartoonish style to show some naughty things and hint at an elusive narrative. Naked women, a hairy scrotum and a single insect surround a pair of floating heads that appear on each canvas. Everyone, or thing, is either drooling or lactating; the work reads like a dream you just forgot.
Did the creative act of representation originate in the sublimation of sexual desire? Maybe, maybe not. In the words of one of the artists, "It's a fun summer show."