Even though I had very limited time in Toronto, I was somehow able to make it to MOCCA (Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art) on Queen St. West to see Misled by Nature: Contemporary Art and the Baroque, a show from the National Gallery of Canada. The exhibition features works by contemporary artists that are said to draw upon aspects of the movement. While the three installations in the main space certainly display qualities that us art history majors would quickly remember as Baroque, including intense light and dark shadows and material excess – it seems as if the works have been placed under an umbrella of “large and over the top” (characteristics I will not deny are Baroque) but left me looking for other properties to sustain this grouping.
Walking through “Embracing oblivion and ruin is the only way to live now” by Tricia Middleton, an incredible installation made of wax and found objects, I agree with the feeling described by Murray Whyte in the Toronto Star “the overarching sense is of impending doom: Something’s about to go wrong here, and fast”. I love that this is the sense I got from walking around in Middleton’s environment (and displayed in another context would have been more than enough) but my art history brain kept going back to the other aspects of the Baroque that imply that the piece you see is the most dramatic point in the story being told – the moment when the action is actually taking place. The Baroque is about triumph, showcasing a win and getting people to jump on board. The museum states that this influence of the Baroque has been a “recurring facet of contemporary art in Canada and around the world” and I agree, just as I agree that the works here certainly display an exuberance and excess that call for our attention in the face of thousands of ambitious and assertive works in the contemporary art world all fighting for the same thing.
AS FOR THE OUTFIT – I always imagine that I’m going to dress cute when i go home and then end up wearing wool, fur and Sorels (to dinner). This time, I packed the same as I always do but because the weather wasn’t quite as deep freeze-y as it has been the past few times, the outfits were actually worn as I had imagined (rather than having to layer everything I brought every time I went outside)
After Bruno Taut (Negative Capability ) by Lee Bul