Kijuro Yahagi at the Japan Foundation Toronto (131 Bloor West), to July 16. 416-966-1600. Rating: NNNN
Paul Bureau , Pierre Dorion , David Elliott and Francine Savard at Sable- Castelli (33 Hazelton) to July 5. 416-961- 0011. Rating: NNN p>
Gordon Anderson at Christopher Cutts (21 Morrow) to July 2. 416-532-5566. Rating: NNN Rating: NNNN
With threats of deadly viruses and terrorism putting a damper on tourism these days, one can always take a vacation at an art gallery. Go to Montreal via Sable-Castelli , Japan via the Japan Foundation or Hamilton via Christopher Cutts . At Cutts, Gordon Anderson displays the Hamilton you know and love from your travels along the QEW: large factories sprawled across barren industrial parks. There's a quaint part of Hamilton hidden some kilometres behind the industrial wall, but you won't see that here. Anderson's focus is on the grim aspects of the city that resides in Lake Ontario's armpit.
And fittingly, he uses the negative to portray the negative. The stark black-and-white photographs of the steel plants are printed in reverse: black is white and white is black. Normally dark factories are searing white, while clear skies are pitch black. The compositions are beautiful even if the subject matter is far from it - from two negatives the result is positive.
Kijuro Yahagi 's black-and-white photographs are quite different. They're subtle. Ordered. Layered. Calm. Yahagi travelled some 20,000 kilometres across Japan in search of nature. For the most part, he failed.
His work shows how, particularly in that heavily populated nation, nature is rarely unaffected by human influences. Paper fortunes are tied to tree branches for good luck. Vines seem to creep through the air, suspended on wire mesh supports. Dams block rivers, with walkways zigzagging back and forth across their faces so that workers can maintain the massive walls.
Dense clusters of houses climb steep hills, each seeming to fold into the next. There isn't a person in sight, yet our influence is everywhere - from a subtle tree stump in the background of a forest to congested arteries of a city. Beside each stunning photo is a piece of text, one of the artist's thoughts - a simple, unpretentious insight about the world.
While Yahagi and Anderson photograph landscapes, the artists of the Montréal show at Sable-Castelli require you to form a vision of Montreal in your head. Nothing is given easily, and in the end that's really so Montreal anyway.
Pierre Dorion 's realistic paintings of people and places show his ability to capture absolute stillness. In one piece, a man is stretched across a table with his arms out and his head low. In another, a small farmhouse pokes its roof up above a fence as if peering out at the misty day.
Paul Bureau 's brash work sits on the other end of the spectrum. Heavy vertical strokes of oil paint thickened at the edges form shallow gutters of colour. These bands run across each piece, forming what look like too-often painted, multicoloured rickety fences.
David Elliott 's collaged paintings are like images splattered on a canvas. In one, a parrot, plane, lollipop, heart and squiggly all vie for centre stage. The work is busy and flamboyant.
Francine Savard 's, on the other hand, is very, very quiet: shapes of uniform colour. One piece is simply two dark holes painted on shaped canvas and positioned as if dancing.
All four artists are like Montreal: whether the work is brash, flamboyant or quiet, it's always thoughtful and confident and a bit set in its ways.
firstname.lastname@example.org Three shows exploring cityscapes outside Toronto take you on a different kind of holiday