We are all animals
JEAN-PAUL RIOPELLE AT INGRAM GALLERY
Though the wind chill factor may be clearing the streets of action, it's a bit of a zoo at the galleries these days, with some memorable animal-themed works on view. Three shows lead the pack:
It's always fun to see the lighthearted side of a serious artist's legacy. So the highlight of this recent estate-releases show are playful sculptures of owls--yes, owls -- by one of Canada's most vaunted abstract painters. The late Jean-Paul Riopelle gave these little birds erect bearing, puffed-out chests and curious gazes -- a mood that's proud without being pompous. The squished-up surfaces of these sculptures enhance the enjoyment factor, suggesting the childlike joy Riopelle took in their making. As a result, it's hard not to smile when looking at the owls, and a soupcon of this feeling remains when looking at Riopelle's wacky 3-D takes on an elk and elephant, too. The same cannot be said, sadly, for the abstract 1970s charcoal sketches in the show, which feel much more like the studio leftovers that they are. I wondered whether better stuff went to the six other commercial galleries sharing this particular release of editions from Riopelle's estate--Ingram is the sole Ontario gallery participating, with events in Paris, Calgary, Winnipeg and Montreal already wrapped and ones soon to open in Vancouver and Quebec City.