Thrush Holmes at Drabinsky Gallery (122 Scollard), to March 25. 416-324-5766. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
In the ever-burgeoning art market, some galleries love a self-made Renaissance man, and Thrush Holmes fits the bill.
In his mid-20s, Holmes is largely self-taught, hugely productive, collected by Sir Elton and involved in a roster of projects ranging from music to multimedia. So it's worrisome to see a talented and budding visual sensibility falling prey to hype.
Balancing many layers of imagery in challengingly intense configurations, these ambitious paintings should be confrontational and involving. Unfortunately, Holmes has defanged his contemporary idioms, making them prettily bland.
This is not to say the show lacks visual sense or pleasure. Holmes has a great eye: his inclusion of wallpaper patterns reveals a finely honed sense of colour, while samplings of digitally enlarged found photographs and childhood snapshots show a natural flair for potent visual imagery.
The artist constructs an autobiographical mythography of sorts, using several artistic alter egos that influence the style and content of different paintings. They have different names and ages, yet apparently share the same phone number, which is often prominently included in each work. Holmes plumbs personal experience, memory and its discontents, a daunting project that promises rich and jarring content.
Almost every work is suffocated by a thick coat of resin, effectively cutting off the viewer from the textured surface and making the pieces feel unintentionally remote. With their glossy finish and imposing scale and weight, they are more monuments to than records of the fragmented, recollected self.
However, art so intent on the texture of memory, personal history and its decay should sidestep the temptation to fashionably memorialize itself, and let the rawness bleed through.