NATHAN JUREVICIUS at Magic Pony (694 Queen West), to June 30. 416-861-1684. Rating: NNN
Going to magic pony – the self-proclaimed shop for creative animals – and its backroom art space can be a bit of an exotic cultural trip for me.
Not being a collector of shop mainstays like Mr. Tofu-head dolls myself, I often feel I’m stepping into a world with very specific aesthetic codes, ones connected to but somewhat removed from the traditional white-cube context.
The absurdity and alt-savvy of their stuff – as well as pop inflections from art stars like Marcel Dzama – makes it a nice place to visit. Don’t think I could live there, though.
So, Nathan Jurevicius’s current exhibition, titled Reformation, is not my cup of tea. The internationally renowned artist, toy designer and illustrator’s style of Gothic-cute is pretty defined. Here, it’s mainly embodied in drawings tracing the trials of his iconic Scarygirl alter ego as she navigates a version of the religious traditions that Jurevicius grew up with in Lithuania.
For me, Jurevicius’s pen-and-acrylic drawings only really resonate in a couple of works, like Interrogation Room, a space filled with jewels and owls (the latter a spiritual symbol present through the series) and Preacher, a skeleton playing a pipe organ. His peephole animation of singing, pointy-capped cherubs and his massive storefront sculpture of Scarygirl and the skeleton are also strong. (I would almost prefer more of those to the drawings, which seem like preparation for a book.)
I do appreciate, however, Jurevicius’s boldness in engaging spiritual matters sincerely, given his subculture’s irony-loving vibe. This, and the densely hatched quality of his drawings, evoke a Goya-for-hipsters, Gorey-of-the-Baltics feel.
It ain’t magic, but it ain’t half-bad either.