MARGAUX WILLIAMSON at Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects (1086 Queen West) until July 30. 416-537-8827. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Forests often show up in art and literature as a little ominous. In Margaux Williamson's new show, In The Woods , they embody a place of solitude and reflection.
Twelve absorbing paintings reimagine her West Queen West community surrounded by trees rather than cars or buildings, a place where those she knows can go for respite from the congestion.
They also offer a new side of Williamson. Lauded for her imaginative creatures and deftly subdued palette, here she combines familiar objects with splashes of colour and hints at a fractured form of realism. The paintings reveal themselves slowly, evoking elements of surrealism and expressionism to convey her subject's sense of solitude.
The large Ocean Like dreamily blends a formless sand, sea and sky. To the left, an old white bus rots into a mass of green grasses as though its decay were feeding the growth. A woman with a bandaged head sits forlornly off to the side behind a piece of fence, intent upon an empty bucket and surrounded by glasses of water. Two kittens below stare out at the viewer.
Into The Woods is the thematic heart of the show. A shirtless boy sits in the snow to remove his pants. Behind, a leafless tree-lined street rendered upside down disrupts a first impression and makes the snow read as if it were the sky, while large balls of snow fall, gently grounding the perspective in this mysterious painting.
Though she composes this image as if it were a dream, Williamson has made the trees and buildings very real and rendered the contours of the boy's body and the shine of his hair with great acuity.
It's as if her play on realism reflects the thoughts of her solitary subjects, in which commonplace things morph into memories and emotional states. There are so many layers of expression here, you can easily miss Williamson's immense skill as a painter.