Fine Fictions

Fantasy and tech meet in realist works

MICHAEL ANTKOWIAK, ADELA LEIBOWITZ and JOHN PLAYER  at Le Gallery (1183 Dundas West), to May 2. 416-532-8467. Rating: NNNN

Wil Kucey curated Building Fictions, an enigmatic, low-key group show involving three realist painters who play with the idea of the human vantage point and the construction of images. They portray remote and often alienated environments that are ordinarily closed to the human gaze. 

Michael Antkowiak makes soft-focus renderings of “cam couples” viewed remotely over the internet. These couples aren’t only a pornographic enterprise but are supported by subscribers who watch them go about their daily business. 

Antkowiak paints these humdrum scenes from the camera’s low-angled and truncated perspective, showing clothed figures in living rooms. Postcards from the creepy frontier of techno voyeurism, they’re all the more disturbing for their prosaic blandness. The scenes are both placid and crackling with unsettling energy. 

John Player takes a mechanical and military bird’s-eye view of the landscape. From the perspective of satellites, surveillance cameras and predator drones, these paintings are full of meticulous detail but obviously have nothing to do with the human gaze. They remind us that the military-industrial complex increasingly excises the human being from its operations. 

On the opposite end of the creative spectrum, Adela Leibowitz draws on Mesopotamian and Egyptian mythology in her faux naïf paintings populated by statues, exotic beasts and lush flora and fauna. These landscapes are rich in esoteric reference and gnostic imagery.

Whether digging into our collective unconscious or peering remotely through the alienated edges of the web, these works probe how much of our day-to-day visual reality is extrapolated from the far reaches of the fantastical and the technological.

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