oliver girling at the Burston Gallery (1092 Queen West) to October 27. 416-516-1232. Rating: NNNN
limiting his materials to charcoal, ink and chalk, his palette to mostly black and his subject to British Columbia's Inside Passage, Oliver Girling has produced a cohesive exhibition of tightly themed landscapes that play off one another like lines of poetry.The works are big, bold and imposing, and he appears to find immeasurable pleasure in the process of repetition.
Six charcoal drawings and a large painting of the same mountain peak present identical views, only differing in technique. In one version, the clouds are smudgy, in another they're a steel-wool pad of tightly drawn spirals.
And in his Friendship House series, the architectural elements of a wall-size drawing of a native meeting house are repeated, and reinforced, by smaller, lightly coloured drawings of details of the house -- a plank wall, a section of a totem.
This kind of straightforward, realistic drawing is a departure for Girling, and the drawings show more control than he's been known for. Small scenes of New Westminster, done in ink on paper, depict lumber piles, bridges and fishing coves with a minimum of gestures -- a few lines and a blot of colour.
The most painterly piece in the show, a large, sprawling canvas of the Fraser River in surprising blocks of lemon, lime, orange and bright blue, should feel like it doesn't belong here. Instead, it acts as counterpoint, shifting our attention back to the dark outlines of the mountain.