>>> Francois Xavier Saint-Pierre at Case Goods Warehouse: grim yet lush

FRANCOIS XAVIER SAINT-PIERRE at Case Goods Warehouse, Distillery District (80 Mill, #206) to April 24. See listing. Rating: NNNNBack from.


FRANCOIS XAVIER SAINT-PIERRE at Case Goods Warehouse, Distillery District (80 Mill, #206) to April 24. See listing. Rating: NNNN

Back from a residency at the French Academy in Rome, Francois Xavier Saint-Pierre presents Forbidden Rooms, recent paintings revolving around the myth of Bluebeard’s castle.

The show is awash in lush, operatic drama. Saint-Pierre mines the deep symbolism of the story in imposing views of the castle from outside, the figure of Bluebeard striding the halls with his lantern and keys, and the lone figure of his wife standing in mute horror before the open door of the forbidden room.

He borrows imaginatively from classical, Romantic and modernist tropes. There are elements of Whistler and Kaspar Friedrich in his semi-abstract landscapes and wild skies, while the figures of Bluebeard’s wife, uncertain in the gloom, call to mind the muted Danish interiors of Vilhelm Hammershoi, soon to arrive at the AGO. His colour is saturated and entertaining.

The critic John Ruskin famously noted that modern painting took into account the fact that the human eye can’t take in everything at once. Thus, the true object of painting is not the object itself, but an exploration of the process of perception. What’s implied in Forbidden Rooms is as essential as what is plainly visible.

Saint-Pierre distills this insight into a neat parable using the Bluebeard story as its vehicle. The painter’s search for clarity is like our search through the castle, with unseen marvels and horrors waiting in every room.

art@nowtoronto.com | @nowtoronto

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