Mina Totino’s Gremlin 2007 suggests the exploration of the painted touch.
WORKING TITLE at Diaz Contemporary (100 Niagara), to Saturday (August 2). 416-361-2972. Rating: NNN
Abstract painting isn't the most audience-friendly genre. It's easier to relate to realist paintings, which show us the world the way we are used to seeing it photographically.
Yet if abstract painting can show us anything, it's that the image is not everything. Experience - of life and, for the painter, of painting itself - still matters.
These are the themes explored in Working Title, a show organized by former Torontonian (and accomplished abstract painter) Elizabeth McIntosh.
Vancouver-trained, Austin-based emerging painter Monique Mouton provides the best in show. Her oils are arrayed on roughly circular boards, with a strong sense of colour and texture. In Mouton's circles, neon pink is overlaid with messy brown, muddy beige splays like a miniature river delta into melted-snow white, and dry-sky blue is scraped across light cumulus grey. All exhibit a love of the irregular - the sideways-slumped or paintbrush-clumped - that doesn't always work in large doses but shines in Mouton's treatment.
Toronto painter Sally Spath's work, thin yellow stripes painted directly onto the south wall, marries conceptual strength with material delicacy. Though some minimalist installation artists are fanatical about even paint application (or just use vinyl cutouts), Spath integrates a human-process quality. You can see where her brush got dry and then was wetted again. One is reminded of the human hand that exists behind even the most precise architectural lines.
Established Vancouver painter Mina Totino rounds out the show with some oil paintings on canvas. Her creeping, squiggling, uncertain lines seem to collapse under their own weight. What's imparted is a delight in the mark, in the exploration of the painted touch.
Artists like these aren't going to take down Flickr any time soon, but they do provide a nice switch from lens-based ideas of reality.