THE INVISIBLE LANDSCAPE REVEALING OUR PLACE IN THE WORLD organized and circulated by the National Gallery of Canada at MOCCA (Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, 952 Queen West), to Jan 21. 416-395-0067, www.mocca.toronto.on.ca. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
The invisible landscape show at MOCCA is like a refined broth. Nothing comes as a surprise, but the flavour is satisfying. The National Gallery has spun through its collection with MOCCA curator David Liss to create a show whose theme is the mystic relationship between nature and humanity.
Interestingly, it's not the show's backbone of Canadian landscape painting and aboriginal art that fires you up. Straight from takeoff, Gerhard Richter 's painting, Cloud, has a remarkably magnetic effect. With barely visible brushstrokes, it achieves the illusion of a hovering white cloud. The conversation between it and the eerie tribal vibrations of Roland Poulin 's wood installation, Threshold, borders on the sublime.
But the show loses momentum from there.
Jane Ash Poitras offers the cliché of the aboriginal peoples' pact with nature. Her painting A Sacred Prayer For A Sacred Island is marked by a commentary on social injustice that's out of sync with the show's overall theme.
The show gets back on track with Bill Viola 's video piece and its droning sounds of underwater sleepwalking. Even though it's minuscule compared to Richter's painting, it conveys a soothing quality, juxtaposing life and death, dreams and wakefulness.
The final outstanding work is a black-and-white pinhole photograph by Eric Renner .
It's a distorted self-portrait of the artist holding his hands toward the sky. Sunlight reflects from his palms, capturing his creative power and its connection to nature.
It's a good representation of the illuminating yet simple achievement of this show.