Michael Harrington at Katharine Mulherin Gallery (1086 Queen West) to Dec 29. 416-537-8827. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Michael Harrington's oil paint-ings could be stills from a BBC detective series. They're lush with intrigue as suspicious figures move through shadowy landscapes.The canvases range from forearm-sized to the width of a wingspan. They're executed with a deft hand and show an impressive interplay of light and shadow. Light bursts forth from the darkness with particular intensity, be it from a street lamp, a car tail light or the walk sign at a crosswalk. In one city scene, reds, oranges and cold whites sear the black night. A man in a suit stands precariously on the thin traffic island as cars rush by on either side of him.
The lonely countryside is the location for most of Harrington's pieces. On one large canvas, three figures stand by the shores of a river as dark clouds loom overhead. On another, near another river, a lone man in a suit stands in front of an unmarked white van. A third has a trio of men frozen in motion near a railway crossing.
In a wide-screen letterbox-shaped painting, a trucker pauses as he walks away from his vehicle in a dark, isolated and awkwardly lit truck stop. The sparse imagery is so rich in content and colour that it's easy to invent a story surrounding each of these characters.
Adding to the sense of foreboding is the fact that the figures seem to defy the dim lighting, bursting forth from the canvas in bright tones. They immediately draw your eye and yet are unrecognizable -- faces blur into the background like so many anonymous strangers in the dark. It's impossible, as they say in police lingo, to get a positive ID.
The Ottawa-based artist has lined the walls at Katharine Mulherin with unsolved mysteries. Agatha Christie, eat your heart email@example.com