Andy DeCola and Zack Wood at Neubacher Schor Contemporary (5 Brock) to October 6. 416-546-3683. See listing. Rating: NNNN
Andy DeCola and Zack Wood share a studio space that spawned their new show's bold, industrial-sized paintings. The artists worked in tandem on the paintings in The Boys From Nowhere, using the theme of layered imagery while borrowing from commercial media and pop imagery.
DeCola paints with an eye-wateringly bright palette that ranges from afterimage-inducing dayglo to bubblegum pastels. He uses paint to cut across a dense accumulation of found images. Commercial artifacts, photographic stills, wallpaper patterns, landscape and word fragments from signage, are blended and reconstituted to form a dense visual field that recalls the bright superpositions of German painter Sigmar Polke.
If the colours are pure eye candy, DeCola's visual contrasts are unerringly witty and sharp. His layering of a bright red schooner over a watery family photo (painted aqua) tugs on several layers of visual memory at once, unearthing interesting correspondences in the process.
Zack Wood's palette is as baroque as DeCola's is pop, and some figures emerge from near-total murk. He tends to use large, nearly photo-realistic images based on his personal experience, which he paints over repeatedly with new layers of symbols and cryptic references.
His portrait of an elderly Chinese man is overlaid with rhythmic drips of white paint, while a photo of a young woman stares out from behind a veil of tiny painted diamonds and floating Chairman Maos. The effect is unnerving and psychedelic.
He also has a great sense of humour. Wood's painting of a cross-legged, levitating Conan the Barbarian, floating above the glowing outlines of what appears to be a 17th-century banquet, is a minor masterpiece of genre-bending absurdity.
If these paintings address our current saturation in media, it's hard to see them as a protest. If anything, they show us novel and pleasing ways to paint our way through the visual noise.