A veteran photojournalist on the arts and entertainment scene, Julian Bynoe is a Toronto-based cartoonist, artist and arts blogger. From 1996 to 2014, he was the arts/entertainment editor for the street publication The Outreach Connection, and has had articles featured in Realms Magazine, among others.

EDITION #78 - WEEK OF FEBRUARY 22-28, 2016

The next levels of abstract

Left-right: Part of Harbourfront’s Bill Boyle Artport winter exhibition Deliberately Ambiguous line-up has Marissa Alexander’s “Pages from my notebook;” the earthenware series of Linda Sormin and the paper cut-outs and earthy pigments for Alexia Bilyk’s “Untitled.”

Deliberately Ambiguous

Venue: Bill Boyle Artport, 235 Queen’s Quay West

Dates/Times: Through June 19; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. daily; Artport Gallery Tuesdays-Sundays 12-6 p.m. (open holiday Mondays)

Admission/Information: FREE. Call 416-973-4000 or harbourfrontcentre.com.

Gallery Reviews

Abstract expressionism must be back in vogue since the running undercurrent theme for Deliberately Ambiguous, the winter/spring seasonal group exhibits down at Harbourfront Centre’s Bill Boyle Artport where some works are more successful than others but their concepts are pretty much on the mark most of the time that’s worth a good looking at.

In the main gallery show Non-Objective, Marissa Alexander’s swirls into floral patterns for “Pages from my notebook” made with acrylic on Stonehenge paper tacked onto the wall have a whimsical and child-like touch along with the “Body Rock” of Meghan Price for a 3-D wall installation of paper, graphite, dowel and thread giving the textured illusion of floating boulders works. Linda Sormin has her earthenware series (“You Get Me All Spun Up,” “Fierce Passenger,” “Mirror Craft Restive”) giving off a cavalier method of the aesthetic interlocking with colourful glazes and thrown objects against them.

“Gutter to Glory” makes good usage of found materials – or as artist Grant McRuer calls it “up-cycled” – with pleasing to the eye colour-wise; Alexia Bilyk gets inspired by transport notes and housing structures through paper cut-outs and earthy pigments for the Picasso-like “Untitled” primed quite delicately with strong black lines and standout work “Nuage” has Andrea Kott’s wall installation pieces of regular and frosted blown glass bubbles simply elevating to the ceiling with a sense of freedom, much like “Body Rock.” However, works by Alice Yujing Yam’s geometrical metal “Sculptur-ism” series and Azza el-Siddique’s misshapen bottle-like sculpture on perception and material understanding “Still Life #5” both strive for potential, yet say very little here.

Left-right: Bubbling alongside of the Artport Gallery wall is Andrea Kott’s glasswork “Nuage”; while two examples of Heather Woodchild and Naomi Yasui’s “Last is First” series take up residence in the Uncommon Objects showcases for Harbourfront's winter exhibition Deliberately Ambiguous.

Near the Uncommon Objects showcase area, Heather Woodchild and Naomi Yasui’s Last is First multimedia series rely on the everyday objects used in interesting measures and differing disciplines used from fabric carpeting to sculpture do a good job into re-looking at the everyday object overlooked say and do something to get due attention in the minimum spacing involved.

For the Abstractionists exhibit en route to the gallery corridor of the eight artists involved, just five actual put the title into practice from the innocence behind Libby Hague’s papier-mâché “Lesson Plan”; as the monochromatic gouache of pinks, markers and ink on cardboard playing off each other for tension and harmony for “Untitled (101)” by Ruth Adler. Euclidean shapes, prismatic triads and circular peels for the universal symbolism behind Heidi McKenzie’s “Body Memesis: Tertiary” in porcelain, stoneware and acrylics; “Barn I & II” by Manuela de Medeiros layers translucent and bulked out beeswax and ink transfers on board takes a more simplistic approach to the abstract theme; whereas “Circle Game” melds dizzying computer-animation of moiré patterns and Arabic geometry all dancing around to Paul Intson’s minimalist score for Patrick Jenkins’ one-minute video installation.

Left-right: Ruth Adler’s “Untitled (101)” and the “Circle Game” video installation work by Paul Intson joins the Abstractionists segment of Deliberately Ambiguous ; as Kristian Spreen has planar mould-blown glass series take up residence behind the Artists-in-Residence studio space.

And tucked away along the residential Artists-in-Residence Studio space is Geo-Abstract where the mould-blown glass figures “planar glasses” and “planar bowl” consists of smoky grey hues are figuratively well-structured for their bendy-weirdly beauty by Kristian Spreen; Pasha Moezzi takes ancient Egypt as a influence for his “Variation” jewellery series of brass, powder coating paint and resins with fine tones; Devon Thom’s brooches allow the crystalline forms of the quartzes embrace the sterling silver to take off on their own compositions and the repeated Moorish and paisley patterns cut beautifully and expressively of the layered blues, reds, oranges and browns for Owen Johnson’s cast- and cold-worked glasswork.

It’s kind of nice to see that 20th-century art forms haven’t completely died out and are carried on by the next generation of Canadian artisans willing to take on and introduce them to a new audience into bold and different adventures into what they can accomplish with now when the originals were just starting to scratch the abstract-expressionist surface.

Stray cats’ darkly strut

The Wildings

by Nilanjana Roy

322 pp., Adelph Books/Random House Canada

Softcover, $22.95

Fiction/Fantasy Adventure-Thriller

Book Review

First published in 2012 as part of a two-part epic, The Wildings peeks into the hidden lives of the stray animal as written by debut novelist Nilanjana Roy skips anything remotely resembling Rudyard Kipling’s cuddly felines and is more akin to Richard Adams’ darker undercurrents with a slight twist of Ursula K. Le Guin’s fantasy notions for a thrilling if often chilling look at survival on the streets which not always paints a very pretty picture.

Set in the contemporary Delhi suburban district of Nizamuddin are its clan of homeless cats led by the elderly and wizen Siamese, Miao and her loyal lieutenants, warrior toms Katar and Hulo and queen Beraal who keep the other cats in the neighbourhood in line, like the accidentally-prone kitten Southpaw. Most of all, they maintain a quiet, bother-free life by keeping the peace with the other animals and keep well away from the houses occupied by the Bigfeet – their word for the humans – especially the place, the Shuttered House, where no cat worth their whiskers would dare set paw on.

One day, the cats feel a most powerful whisker mind-linkage vibrate through their domain that only they can sense and can only be transmitted by a medium they refer to as a Sender. Upon investigation, the cats are surprised that it’s coming from a formerly homeless orange kitten living in a Bigfeet’s house named Mara, unaware of her own powers. First seen as a potential threat to the equilibrium of the territory, Beraal is sent to kill her by Miao but upon encountering the innocent kitten she feels she can train Mara to control her powers and be a asset to them all, much to the initial chagrin of most of the elder cats.

With Beraal teaching her charge on channelling her pseudo-Jedi-like powers, the naïve Mara slowly tests her reaching range as far as the nearby Delhi Zoo and making a connection with a family of tigers there, Ozymandias, his mate Rani and son Rudra and even making friends with Southpaw, despite her fear of the outside. The true test for them all comes when a forbidding awakening stirs from within the Shuttered House and emerges with great ferocity to shatter their home’s tranquility where only the fittest will and must survive.

Roy creates a very fantastical world about friendship, unlikely alliances and the horror of animal warfare with believable characters and spares them and the storyline of any sort of warm, fuzzy feelings, but gives them a realistic sense of what the predatory nature of the cat whilst keeping them likeable all at once as really in-depth and page-turning at every moment.

Intelligent and diligent in concept, The Wildings spins a grounded feel of exotica between its covers where one can sense the change of India’s seasonal patterns, the mystical omnipotence of the book’s unlikely kitten heroine and her newfound friends’ mean streets-readiness to combat a palpable evil, unbeknownst to a clueless human world is infectious reading.

***

The Wildings’ final chapter, The Hundred Names of Darkness, will be available on July 12.