Works on Paper at Olga Korper Gallery (17 Morrow), to July 5. 416-538-8220. Rating: NNN Catherine Heard and Judith Schwarz at Open Studio Gallery (468 King West), to June 21. 416- 504-8238. Rating: NN Rating: NNNNN
Paper pushes and pulls artists. Drawing is often raw and expressive, allowing artists to explore, while printing is precise and restrictive. Both reveal a lot about an artist's boundaries. Olga Korper has trotted out a series of paper works by her gallery artists, demonstrating the liberating properties of drawing.
Marcel Dzama has made an international name for himself with his strange little figures that float in white space. Here, in his muted earth tones, he renders a series of birds, walking and smoking, in one of six works. Despite the small size of the pieces, his 50s-style cartoons jump off the page and demand attention while larger items in the show, like Ron Shuebrook's black-and-white sheet-music-inspired works, seem flat.
Paterson Ewen's work also demands attention. Vigorous strokes of varied colours cover a sheet of handmade paper, running through the valleys and across the peaks of the paper's undulating surface.
The main piece by Susanna Heller rises up into the rafters at the old industrial space. Using mylar paper and yellow "caution" ribbon as an accent, the twin towers of the World Trade Center are depicted bursting forth from the floor and hurtling toward the ceiling. The drawing, rushed and hectic, depicts the demise of the New York landmark and the power of its loss.
John Brown's delightful little portraits, each line forming a layer that builds into a hurried face, are a very human departure from his earthy oil-on-wood pieces. You can see how drawing stretches an artist.
If you've visited the gallery at Open Studio, a space that specializes in printmaking, more than a few times, you'll notice that some artists can create very fine print work while others seem unable to excel within the limits of the medium.
On display right now are works by visiting artists Catherine Heard and Judith Schwarz, who have taken time away from their predominantly sculptural practices to work paper with ink and press.
Heard usually makes frightening little creatures that resemble babies, lifelike works that are truly disturbing. Her prints here are much less so. On marbled backgrounds she prints the same sexless, bald-headed babies, but here they look more lost than tortured. Emotionless busts and hairless bodies float on backgrounds that often resemble a marbled cream cheese brownie. The work, while still strong, falls well short of her previous pieces.
Schwarz has printed sketches of her sculptural works to limited effect. Coloured bubbles float around spiral centerpieces, creating a nice formal composition.
Again, the work is OK, but it serves mostly as evidence that Schwarz's sculptures cannot be adequately confined to two dimensions.