when i walked into the fran Hill Gallery at the end of a long day, I looked like your typical wild-eyed, frazzled Torontonian. When I walked out, I'd been transformed into a contemplative ancient Greek. At least that's how I felt. Christopher Kier's encaustic paintings are balm for the frenetic urban soul.He's called his show Detritus, as in the stuff we forget, discard and leave behind. Appropriately, Kier began these works in an old cemetery, where he photographed the decorative detailing on tombstones -- acanthus leaves and curlicues. Then he copied the images through his computer, printed them onto a transparency, projected them on canvas and painstakingly hand-drew them using watercolour pencils.
Next, Kier began the encaustic process. Layer upon layer of pigmented wax makes the images appear to be floating in a kind of timeless isolation. This impression is heightened by the contrast of monochromatic backgrounds or side panels -- cool greys and whites whose colours and surfaces Kier has manipulated to look like marble, stone or polished concrete.
The overall effect is like viewing ancient Greek or Roman architectural fragments at the ROM or the British Museum. Like those displays, Kier's pieces urge us to look around and pay attention to what we normally ignore or forget. You, too, have lived in Arcadia, they whisper. Slow down and recall those moments of your past.
CHRISTOPHER KIER at Fran Hill Gallery (230 Queen East) to October 26. 416-363-1333. Rating: NNNN