February 16, 2008

Mara Korkola paints Toronto

Mara Korkola, whose current show is up at Nicholas Metivier Gallery, paints the humble, the everyday. Her weakness is for representational painting that dissolves into painterly abstraction, so naturally she counts Morandi, Celmins, Richter, Downes, and Tuymans among her favorites. In the Globe and Rail, Gary Michael Dault gives Korkola a mixed review. She may be a gifted painter, he writes, but her recent paintings seem stupefyingly similar. "The little oil paintings on aluminum that take up most of the gallery's exhibition space - all of them part of a series called No Place - are far too formulaic. But the paintings in the back gallery are another story - and a much better story, too. This series, also small oils on aluminum, bears the overall title Winter Was Hard (the title of a famous album by the Kronos Quartet), and is about winter light and snowy uneventfulness - specifically, the bleak, undifferentiated pearlescence that is the all-pervasive hue of an airport in winter. Runways are just barely landscapes, but Korkola gives them an otherwise overlooked presence and character, daubing in light standards, snowbanks, snowplows, fuel trucks, distant utility buildings, receding roadways, a faraway city skyline - all bathed in a frigid, silvery ambience. The difference between the No Place paintings and the Winter Was Hard paintings is profound. The former are unspecific, generic, and without context. The latter - despite their seeming emptiness, teem with incident. And by so minutely and exquisitely attending to those incidents, Korkola gives her airport paintings a roundness and believability that makes the wet nocturnal cityscapes into a clever painterly game by comparison." Read more.

"Mara Korkola," Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto. Through March 1.

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