Joel Gibb


Untitled Photograph courtesy Sunday

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5

In this show of sewn felt banners— la Mike Kelley or a church-youth-group’s arts and crafts—Joel Gibb, front man of Toronto band the Hidden Cameras, provides ample opportunity to parse a rock star’s art for clues that might elucidate his music. One untitled work, with the initials hc heraldically emblazoned across it, features a welter of motifs familiar from CD covers and song lyrics: a mole, a swan, a happy skull, four crisscrossing yellow curves that represent urine, and what is apparently a pig in a ski mask. Another banner shows skulls, worms and flowers among tombstones, while a dagger with a pink penis for a hilt radiates sequins and floats in a clear blue sky. We’ve seen this cheerful cartoon-goth aesthetic before at galleries and on the clearance racks at H&M. And despite their charm, the banners lack the power and emotional honesty of Gibb’s music, or the moments of abstract beauty found in the Hidden Cameras’ videos, which play in another room.

A pair of more enigmatic banners, however, seem to actually reveal something about the artist. In one, a wraithlike gray figure hovers over a tree stump, wielding an oversized paintbrush; the color on its tip indicates that the figure has just limned the blue crescent moon overhead. In the other, a wolf howls at a similar moon, while a fountain pen emerges from behind a grinning skull, a bone, lit candles, some shrubbery and a blindfolded self-portrait of Gibb, forming a coat of arms for the modern artist-singer-songwriter. — Joseph R. Wolin

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