Curated by: Judith Schwarz
1 May 1984 - 26 May 1984
Opening Reception 1 May 1984 8pm
Luigi Ghirri and Gregor Curten at Mercer Union, 333 Adelaide St. W., to May 26.
Globe and Mail
John Bentley Mays
Many artist’s these days, including these two Europeans, seem fascinated with imagery of all sorts – high and popular, kitsch and camp and classy – and with the ways the vast image bank of the past and present can be raided for sources of contemporary artmaking. Such romances with imagery are not new concerns, and since Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol, they have become acceptable, even fashionable. Herein is the origin of what’s tiresome about Ghirri (a photographer who teaches at the University of Parma) and Curten (a young painter living in Cologne). Both men are clever and fully in command of their mediums, both do it in ways that are relentlessly stylish.
Ghirri’s groups of related photographic images (example: a piece of antique sculpture juxtaposed with a kitsch Italian angel, both striking similar poses) tell us nothing new or even interesting about anything, as far as I can tell, unless we are supposed to be interested in the artist’s knowledge of current art fashion. These exquisitely crafted, slick and empty pictures would be better placed in Vogue than in an art gallery.
Curten’s drawings and paintings are also beautifully made, while being similarly passive and uncritical. But they do have an interesting theme. Curten’s metaphor for the artist in contemporary Germany is the archetypal castaway, Robinson Crusoe, gathering and patching together whatever comes to hand in the bewildering wilderness he’s been pitched into. It would be possible o appreciate Curten’s charming, richly suggestive allegory were the actual paintings less stylish and calculating.
The works of Ghirri and Curten have come to Toronto after a recent exhibition at Optica Gallery, the artist-run centre in Montreal that organized the tour.