MOIRA CLARK on view at Loop (1174 Queen West) until March 27. 416-516-2581. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNNN
walking into moira clark's ex hibition of colourful, graphic paintings feels like arriving on a sunny patio laid out for a tropical picnic. But the pieces of plain white crockery and pressed glassware that are the subjects of her still lifes don't just sit quietly on their tablecloth-like grounds -- they flow across grids painted in scrumptious, fruity tangerines, watermelon pinks, lemon-lime and swimming-pool turquoise.
The show, called Through, is a follow-up to Clark's Place Setting, which featured the same generic culinary vessels on more subdued woven and floral grounds. Through now reconnects Clark with her printmaking background, letting pattern and colour rule -- and the wilder the better.
Upending traditional notions of still-life painting, her bold, playful bars of colour refuse to take the role of mere background. They weave over and under the softly painted, curvy cups and saucers like bright ribbons.
We lose sight of the dinnerware as domestic object. Instead, the fragmented handles and pie-shaped slices of plates become part of an abstract pattern.
Clark's paintings work best big, and when her brilliant juxtapositions of colour -- corals, ochres, blues and stark black -- are allowed to steal the show. The tartan background in Liquid, rendered in smooth, solid acrylics, bends and fades as it passes behind a set of transparent glasses, recalling the shiny vinyl oilcloths that covered 1950s kitchen tables.
In the wall-sized Pompeii, a huge glass punch bowl floats off to one side like a mystical crystal orb, its shell and floral motifs adding further patterns to the background. And in Sundae Tulip, the wavy lines of a 6-foot-high ice-cream glass flow over yummy squares of blueberry and burnt orange.
The paintings feel as familiar as Grandma's tea set or your first plaid skirt.