Painting's Extremes

Chris Kline, Local Condition, installation view at Diaz Contemporary
Chris Kline, Local Condition 1, 2012
Acrylic on canvas, 70” x 54

Two shows in view in Toronto this December illustrate why painting remains a vital medium whose capacity for individual expression cannot be rivalled.

The paintings of Montreal-based artist Chris Kline, on view at Diaz Contemporary till January 10, are minimalist yet richly nuanced. In his series Local Condition, subtle gradations of green/blue increase in saturation as the eye travels up the canvas, suggesting (but not simulating) the sky in various types of weather or times of day. These works have a meditative quality, yet also reward the searching gaze that actively seeks out their shifting tonalities. See Diaz Contemporary for more information.

Carol Wainio's paintings also demand extended engagement, but in this case it's the dense layers of words, marks and incidents that keep one looking, for fear of missing one tiny bit of these fantastic realms.

Carol Wainio, One Evening, 2014  
Acrylic on canvas, 60 x 120 inches
Dropped From The Calendar, at Paul Petro Contemporary Art, continues this Ottawa-based artist's exploration of how words and pictures tell stories. But as the title of the show suggests, these are not paintings of recognizable episodes of familiar tales. Rather their meanings are open-ended, teetering on the verge of narrative, but never quite going there.

Carol Wainio, Dropped from the Calendar, installation view at Paul Petro
left: Les Cailloux Blancs; right: One Evening
In One Evening, a work near life-size in scale, a ghostly deer (looking suspiciously like an illuminated Christmas lawn ornament) inhabits a forest inscribed with fragments of story beginnings — "one evening in the month of" — alluding not to the specific, but that magical "once upon a time" in which all fairy tales, past, present and future, reside.

Carol Wainio, Les Cailloux Blancs (detail)
Exquisitely expressive brushwork captures the feeling of sun dappling the forest bed, or the variegated patterns on a bird-of-prey's wings, yet also reads as sheer abstract beauty. Waino has written a thoughtful essay to accompany the works, and a book is forthcoming in 2015. Visit Paul Petro Contemporary Art for more images and Wainio's essay.