Robert Farmer at the Hang Man Gallery (756 Queen East), opening 7 pm Saturday (January 8), to January 14. 416-465-0302. Rating: NNN
While most people were resting over the holidays, artist Robert Farmer painted furiously. Eight of the works on exhibit in The Discovery Of Pink at Hang Man were painted in the last two weeks, but you wouldn't know it from the mood and depth of the works.
You have to look very closely to grasp the complexity of his process in these surreal paintings. The few visible brush strokes highlight the subjects and details, adding interest to his spray-paint-like surfaces.
It's not actually spray paint that creates the otherworldly effect, though. It's Farmer's technique of using a roller or rag soaked in thinner to remove paint as it oxidizes. The resulting multiple layers make for a dreamlike quality.
Inspired by dreams, abandoned buildings and fairy tales, this show is best seen when you can leave your narrative mind at home. Accepting the dark mood, illogical situations and unnatural scale adds to the pleasure of perusing these children and bunnies amongst repeated themes of fire, tornadoes, striped wallpaper and, of course, pink.
Note in advance that the pink is nowhere near the sweet "girly" colour we usually associate with the hue. In combination with his subjects and style, Farmer's pink turns the act of looking at his paintings into an eerie, ominous experience.
Creepy, but weirdly endearing as well. Check it out.