Darkness Ascends at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (952 Queen West), Friday (June 9, reception 7-10 pm) to August 13. 416-395-0067. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Mocca treads the left-hand path in its Darkness Ascends show, plunging headlong into the abject horrors bubbling beneath the surface of human experience.
This exhibit, featuring the work of more than 25 artists, combines a wide range of media, placing tattoo artists alongside comic art, members of the Royal Art Lodge and outsider artists in a mix of genres and subcultures. Site-specific installations and murals capitalize on theatrics: John Scott 's ominous dark figure greets visitors at the entrance, Richard Stipl puts up a roadkill-festooned upside down pentagram, and Fiona Smyth weighs in on the back wall with a girly face made up of her characteristic elongated figures, this time with exposed viscera.
Through an opening torn into the very back of the space, Seth Scriver has his own narrow-passageway installation that must be seen to be believed. A low-frequency doom metal soundtrack by Sunn 0))) sets the tone throughout the space.
Shary Boyle offers three oil paintings of porcelain-skinned youths about to do something transgressive. Brad Phillips contributes two chillingly calm paintings of a boy seated on the roof of a house that conceals a gruesome real-life backstory. The Sanchez brothers stand out with a series of painterly digital tableaux that raise questions about the norms of institutional religion.
Peter Beste documents the Norwegian death metal scene, photographing musicians who glower in their daily demonic makeup and stringy long hair, scaring the locals and often getting arrested. The grotesque subjects in a series of weirdly compelling outsider art paintings by André Ethier , lead singer of the Deadly Snakes, bring to mind the funnier work of Sean Landers.
The show would not be complete, of course, without tattoo master Paul Booth , owner of Manhattan's Last Rites tattoo studio. Slayer's and Sepultura's ink slinger of choice brings photos of his skin work alongside two of his rare paintings, recently shown in Germany. It's almost enough to make you want to join the dark side.