A trashy doppelganger pursues Peter Rabbit in Carol Wainio’s The Chase.
CAROL WAINIO at Wynick/Tuck (401 Richmond West, #128), to November 1. 416-504-8716. Rating: NNNN
Lately, the economy is all about uncertainty.
Suddenly, the grand moneymaking success stories that investors told about the market have evaporated. Those robust tales have gone threadbare, shrunk small enough to pack into pink-slipped traders' cardboard boxes.
Though Carol Wainio's latest paintings are born of issues much deeper and broader than the current market crisis, it's hard not to be reminded of the TSX and its discontents when looking at them. There's so much in them that evokes promises versus actualities, fairy tales versus hard truths, naive hopes versus harsh disappointments.
In each of her large paintings, Wainio floats coherent 19th-century storybook drawings in a shifting, muddled, wasteland-like ground. A Peter Rabbit-like character is chased by a doppelganger built out of trash, while scenes from Jack And The Beanstalk are draped before a muted, half-grown cornfield.
Wainio keeps the sense of uncertainty going with a central form that simultaneously evokes a mouldy book, a crumbling house corner, a tattered picture frame and a painterly flight of fancy. The fact that the viewer can't quite tell what she means by it is part and parcel of the destabilizing effect.
Also destabilizing are the small, rainbow-like fragments Wainio scatters throughout. It's as if the pot of gold's leprechaun set off a bomb, scattering his path to riches into so much shrapnel. Yet they might also suggest that some hopes - small hopes, that is, for small gains and small happinesses - could still exist.
Though these are not easy paintings to delve into, Wainio's careful treading of the line between almost there and almost not reflects a very real - and impressive - mastery of her medium. And that's something, thankfully, that can never be downsized.