When Tree Falls, currently showing at Pentimento Gallery in Toronto, is the first work I’ve seen by artist Francis Muscat, but certainly not his first show. The invitation image Fuck U is a smooth carved wooden head with a splintered Mohawk, so I expected the work to be both skilled and ‘edgy.’ I was not disappointed.
I was really surprised that visitors were allowed to touch the sculptures and feel the difference between the smooth texture that the artist created and the original wood as it was found. Such a treat!
In this show, inspired by the trees a beaver brought down near his home, Muscat has taken the rough remainders and given them new meaning.
Some sculptures incorporate delicate figurative carving while others include glasswork—a familiar medium for this artist. The motif of ‘home’ is strong whether it is ‘pick-up-sticks’ of glass arranged in a house shape (Small House series, 2010) or a curving column of stacked wood and glass (Volcanic Passion #2, 2o12).
I found this show contemplative, and an interesting juxtaposition of whimsy and strength. There’s one piece Greg 2 that looks like the darkened wood has been flattened cartoon-like into spikey dark hair tipped with silvery-green and then merged with a clear glass silhouette of a man’s head that’s driven through the wood. I see the duality and more in the multiple shadows that falls against the wall.
There’s a lot to think about in this work… and the thinking is a pleasure.
*Note: The show is on display: July 25 – August 18, 2013 at Pentimento Gallery, 1164 Queen Street East. Gallery hours: Wednesday – Sunday 12 – 6 p.m.