MASKULL LASSERRE at Centre Space (65 George), to January 19. 416-323-1373. Rating: NNNN
In Maskull Lasserre's cabinet of curiosities, the cabinet provides the raw material for the natural history specimens. Using his virtuoso carving skills, the young Montreal-based sculptor magically unleashes insects and animal skeletons from the wood of an old door, a chair and musical instruments and tools.
Lasserre's sculptures combine a love of old-school woodworking and tinkering, a sense of the macabre, meditations on nature and culture and musical/visual synaesthesia.
Like ghosts in a haunted house, his stunningly accurate little skeletons crawl from the corners or edges of large household objects. Rough gouges surrounding the finely rendered creatures give the impression that they might have just chewed their way out.
From a circle of violent carving tool marks, a large realistic wooden beetle (you can imagine its buzzing) explodes out of the high-note end of the keyboard of a piano hanging at a precarious angle from the ceiling.
A long-tailed animal skeleton crouches at the bottom of an old door, joining it to a fragment of a rolling pin. You might like to think it's some shy forest dweller, but it's actually a more common, less charming home invader, Rat, impinging on the retro domesticity represented by the kitchen utensil.
As he does in Rat, Lasserre explores the idea of joining an active tool to a more passive object by carving an ear emerging from violin in its case or a bird skeleton from the handle of an axe resting on chair. The latter work also hints at his fascination with more dangerous tools; this show doesn't include his functioning guillotine or shootable rifle/violin hybrid.
Given that obsession, you'd expect the wooden rope fashioned from the end of a large tree branch to form a noose, but enigmatically, it appears to be a utilitarian loop that could be used as a simple hanger or tie-off.
Lasserre's elegant work puts a new twist on the art of the found object.