James Lahey at the Nicholas Metivier gallery

8 Apr

Leave it to a prominent Canadian painter to capture one of the most romantic of American artistic tropes in a way that makes me want to have $8,000 so I can have one to hang in my room and look at every day.

Probably this one:

…though somebody had already bought it by the time I got to the opening yesterday. Jerks.

So, Lahey is a Toronto artist who’s been active since the ’80s and is best known for his paintings and photographs of flowers and skulls and abstract things and…he’s pretty all over the board, actually. You can find out more about him on his super-snazzy website. He’s prominent at the AGO and The Power Plant, and he’s been a member of the Royal Canadian Academy for the last decade.

So what’s he doing taking a road-trip on a motorcycle along Route 66? It seems like he must be getting a bit old for that kind of nonsense. But there you go –  members of the Canadian artistic royalty can still shake it off and go find themselves and then do really nice red-and-purple paintings about it.

It was really interesting to see such hopelessly American scenes through non-American eyes. Is this what other cultures feel like when they see themselves represented by American artists? People always talk about how American artists Disney-ify things, and I think I kind of get that now. There are all these great images- the highway signs, the big black motorcycle (a real one, not one of these zippy, fuel-efficent little scooter things the rest of the world rides), the open road. So he’s got the images, the bright pop-art colours, everything really. But yet it doesn’t feel…right somehow.

Which isn’t to say I don’t love the results – I do. But they’re vaguely unsettling, like seeing photos guests take of the inside of your house and sensing they relate to the space in a completely different way than you do.

Anyway, go check out the show, it’s cool.

Exhibit runs April 7-30, 2011

Nicholas Metivier Gallery: 451 King Street West (south side, just west of Spadina).

Gallery hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10-6.

Gallery lowdown – This is a pretty fancy one – they stencil the artist’s name on the wall and everything. Tight dress and very high heels at the opening or they’ll look at you funny. But! Free drinks! Though no hors d’ouvres, sadly. And if you want to buy the art there’s a cute girl right there, in uniform, with a clipboard, ready to take your credit card.


More Errant Torontonian!

Other things to do while you’re out wandering in the springtime.

A primer on gallery attendance. They’re like museums, but free!


One Response to “James Lahey at the Nicholas Metivier gallery”

  1. ilikeculture April 8, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    I’m wondering if some of the discomfort has to do with the colors. Hesitant, hopeful blue peeking through cracks in dominant, aggressive red with unexpected purple. There’s also a melancholy tone in the words, “Historic California Route.” As if the California of our dreams is history, and we’re headed down a very different road. I still don’t know quite what to make of the purple.

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