STEPHEN ANDREWS/Fastwürms at Paul Petro Contemporary Art (980 Queen West), to June 17. 416-979-7874. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Two exhibitions bring together older bodies of work by Stephen Andrews and Fastwürms for a fabulous mash-up of subversive spirituality.
Andrews's 1998 series Apostles reveals his tender precision in a striking technique combining oil and graphite on mylar.
These 12 black-and-white portraits of young men found in 1950s physique pictorial (read gay) magazines are framed from the shoulder up, each named for an apostle.
Scandalous for some, this comparison of Christian iconography with the covert antecedent to gay porn bears forbidden fruit.
Both invoke ecstatic experience, whether religious or sexual, and both groups of men were persecuted in their day.
Doubting Thomas holds his chin up defiantly, a coy smile plays across Judas's face, St. Peter levels an intent stare over pouting lips, and Bartholomew casts his eyes heavenward, looking every bit the high-Renaissance cherub.The velvety combination of graphite and oil breathes life into the apostolic studs.
Upstairs, Fastwürms put together a trippy narrative with an ominous synth soundtrack, blending occult and Hindu influences into a little black-light-lit Day-Glo utopia. It's the story of a wishing well that floats into Honkytown to help its Hindu animal-plant-hybrid denizens fight white supremacists.
Dominating the room with pink, orange and green tiles and a snake-like rope holding a tin bucket over the blue glow of tonic water, the life-size well invites us to wish for a better world. Two small etchings on homemade pink paper printed with symbols like skeletons, trees, lightning and woodpeckers provide cryptic occult wisdom.
Two large psychedelic mixed-media paintings introduce us to intelligent beings with cat, rabbit and elephant heads.
One hides a magazine clipping deriding the Nazi myth of Aryan purity and critiquing the evil use of the Hindi swastika.
It's not exactly Sunday school around here, but it's all worth meditating on.