PAUL BUTLER at Wynick/Tuck Gallery (401 Richmond West, #128) until February 1. 416-504-8716. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
For most of the past five years, Winnipeg artist Paul Butler has been touring North America and Europe throwing collage parties, bringing together local artists and the public with scissors, glue, magazines and alcohol. The spontaneous collaboration of strangers is itself the point, and the cuttings and collages in the exhibit Getting There Is Half The Fun are forensic evidence of their boozy social bonding.
Some of these pieces he has photographed and blown up, such as the six collages of floral arrangements. Each comprises different shots of flowers on white backgrounds, divulging a specific agenda for diverse bouquets.
It's a perfect metaphor for the collage parties themselves. The ripped and cut shots of white orchids, pink roses and wandering vines flatten various angles into two dimensions.
In another set, Butler favours the backgrounds from which objects were cut. Three or four stacked pages reveal layers of meaning as the gaps in each line up. In Untitled [Girl In Sun], the size of a standard magazine page, a sun-dappled forest in soft focus has a woman-shaped hole. Beneath the space where the body was snipped out, a photo of light-coloured wood panelling is ripped away at head and shoulders to reveal blue sky and reeds.
Worth a flip through are three bound volumes of his daily to-do lists, dating back to 2002, printed from his computer and adorned with scribbled notes. Collage parties evidently don't throw themselves. Find both the banal, such as "filing," and gems like "You are going to die next week. Sorry. Forgive yourself."
If this were the work of a raging loner, it would probably underwhelm. But it's not and it doesn't. Whether it's his bringing people together that's the art or the scraps they leave behind, or both, Butler's got it ready-made.