February 1 – April 20, 2008

Regarded by many in the field to be one of Canada’s greatest contemporary painters, The Visceral Thing will, remarkably, be Toronto artist John Brown’s first solo exhibition in a public institution in over 20 years. Widely and zealously collected by private individuals, important corporate collections and prestigious institutions across Canada, this exhibition brings together a tightly focused selection of 30 works spanning nearly 25 years, including two recently completed paintings – his largest ever. Although Brown tends to work slowly and meticulously on each painting, for months and sometimes years on a single panel, he has produced a prodigious body of work in distinct sets of themes and approaches, including abstraction, figuration and drawing. However, on this occasion exhibition curator David Liss opted for a poetic or associative presentation rather than a retrospective or chronological examination:

“As familiar with his work as I thought I was, as I became more immersed in the project, it became clear to me that any didactic approach, such as a thematically organized survey or chronology, would be a disservice that might restrict the breadth, scope and true value of John’s practice. The selection here embodies the curious yet essential paradoxes of his paintings: they are as straightforward as they are ambiguous, and they are intended to be felt, to be experienced or apprehended more than they are to be read or interpreted literally. Virtuoso paint handling contrasts starkly with brutally scraped surfaces. Each picture bears the scars and shadows of the actual history of their own making. Yet the sheer real-time visceral presence of each of them seems to defy the very facts of their physicality as they also conjure virtual, timelessly ethereal, even sublime inspirations.”

– David Liss, Curator

Opening Reception

Friday February 1, 7 – 10 pm