Glen Crumback and Graham Hall at BUSgallery (1040 Queen West), to July 28. 416-537-8827. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
The subjects of Glen Crumback's show are all in danger of cardiac arrest. Rendered in a palette of deep red, white, black and shades of grey, the figures in his drawings smoke more cancer sticks than Rotary Club-goers on bingo night. In one piece, a monkey in a red cowboy hat sits on a horse, like a spaghetti western version of Planet Of The Apes. Another features a tuba player who managed to blow his head out the end of the instrument, leaving an empty space where his face ought to be.
Crumback also does illustrations for the retooled Saturday Night, a fact that prompts the inevitable comparison between his work and that of the magazine's previous illustrator, Marcel Dzama.
Dzama, the young Winnipeg native whose star has soared internationally, draws absurd 50s-comic-book-style works rendered in root-beer tones. Crumback's is a similarly stylized body of work. However, it's enough his own -- with the cigarettes, psycho clowns, mad surgeons, red crosses and smoking heads -- to justify the rise of his own star.
In the back space, Graham Hall has created his own twisted fairy-tale worlds. The room is plastered with brilliantly inventive images, and a Converse shoebox is crammed full of more drawings to sift through. It's a wonder he finds the time. This is Hall's second show of the summer, and he's also currently curating a group show at Art System.
The works at BUS could be from a children's book gone astray. One odd figure with blank eyes and a dark moustache has arms that roll up like fiddleheads. On another wall, someone has been unexpectedly bisected.
In Hall's version of hell, three hunched figures stare at a fourth, who clings to a seat. If Hall keeps playing the art-world game of musical chairs this well, he could be the one left holding the chair.