BALINT ZSAKO at S.P.I.N. Gallery (1100 Queen West) through October 31. 416-530-7656. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
At what point does a splash of paint start to look like a human head? Balint Zsako 's huge collection of paintings of heads, completed in the past year, coyly reveals perception as an active rather than a passive process.
His extensive series features both abstract and figurative paintings on large sheets of paper, using combinations of watercolour, acrylic, oil stick, pencil crayon and even ballpoint pen. The various styles are mixed up on the wall, but you can trace the way his ideas developed.
A few heads might not be recognizable were they not in a show called Heads, but most of these noggins have character. One work resembles an inkblot with eyes and mustard stains, while another, which sold even before the show opened, contains a headful of thoughts in the form of an old to-do list under the paint.
I like watching the complex assemblies of interconnected organic shapes that only coalesce into a face when you look for one. Zsako points out that the key factor in turning a blob into a head is not giving it eyes or a mouth, but ears.
Heads have been one of Zsako's favourite themes, often accompanied in previous work by intricate and futile machines or birds and words. Those accustomed to his other motifs might miss them here, but these are almost all exceptional works. Many are devastatingly good - no mean feat in a series that essentially includes the artist's entire process.
Expect Zsako's work to be well received when S.P.I.N. takes him to art fair Arco Madrid in February.