JULIE JENKINSON at Verso Gallery (1160 Queen West), to October 6. 416-533-6362. See listing. Rating: NNNN
Verso, a new gallery tucked behind mid-century modern store In Abstracto, is patterned on similar mixed-use gallery and design retail spaces in Germany and South America. Its inaugural exhibit, 36 Hours In Uruguay & Berlin Street Art, features the photographic work of Toronto’s Julie Jenkinson.
Deeply grounded in graphic design – she creates wallcoverings and fabrics, too – she has a knack for finding synchronicities of colour and form in the jumble of urban surfaces. Her studies of Berlin graffiti are primed for bold visual contrast and drama.
In Fist, the dialogue between a stark white building and a raised train track is punctuated by a single yellow graffiti fist. Bird Lips With Two Ice Creams shows a birdlike creature in sneakers counterbalanced by a small Banksy-esque figure in the top right corner.
If street art suffers from its borderlessness, Jenkinson pulls it tight again within a frame, adding a discipline and tension that, paradoxically, let the original marks speak louder.
Her gift for seeing order in chaos is shown most vividly in her studies of Uruguayan city walls. Here, the intentional hand of the graffiti artist is replaced by abstract textures and surfaces.
In Teatro Bastion, partially eroded words in bright red stand out on a rough wall. That bright red pulls your eye to some patches of blue and green on the distressed black-and-white concrete, making you wonder if you’re looking at remnants of posters or an incredibly subtle collage.
Jenkinson transforms corners of the city into concise meditations on pure visual experience. Grittiness never looked so sharp.