Painting reviews from the North Pole

Emmy Skensved,” Greener Pastures Contemporary Art Gallery.Through Jan. 13. “Nada Sesar-Raffay: Swing,” Edward Day Gallery.Through Jan. 6. “Lynne McIlvride Evans: Tourists Welcome–A Chapel of Recent Paintings,” David Kaye Gallery. Through Dec. 23.
Snarky Gary Michael Dault reviews these Toronto painting shows in the Globe and Mail. Note to last-minute shoppers: The Globe and Mail thoughtfully includes price ranges of the artwork along with the exhibition information.
Excerpts from Dault’s reviews: “Emmy Skensved’s pictures are built upon a vivacious embrace of the decorative – upon her obvious fondness for ornate borders, for sweeping curves purloined from baroque, rococo, and Empire styles), for pattern, and for abrupt contrasts between graphic congestion and openness. By pouring her acrylic pigments (she works almost solely with black and white) directly onto glass and letting them dry there, she can then slice into the pigment and, having cut out a cartouche or a length of filigree, can carefully lift that segment of limp paint from the glass and position it upon the canvas. By repeating this process, she gradually builds up her often dazzlingly complex pictures – to the point where they look infinitely more assembled or constructed than just painted.”

“The good part is that Nada Sesar-Raffay paints like an angel. The bad part is that she paints like an abstract-expressionist angel. Sesar-Raffay piles the colour on and swirls it madly about and, for some reason or other, it doesn’t go all muddy and turgid, as might have happened in less capable hands, but remains so hot and fresh, it’s almost fragrant. A big painting like the incendiary Wild Kiss, for example, is 24 inches high and 96 inches wide, and it writhes toward you as if it were a heaving thing about to engulf you in its endless heat.”

“The title of Evans’s exhibition is an intriguing one: Tourists Welcome. Its subtitle, A Chapel of Recent Paintings, is not, however, quite so endearing. ‘I am interested in the relationship between worship and tourism,’ the artist writes in her gallery statement, ‘and the physical barriers churches sometimes use to keep the tourists out of sacred spaces.’ Two really good subjects, the first infinitely more so than the second.”

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