Friday, December 23, 2011

Not Quite Christmas

It wasn't quite the night before Christmas and I'm pretty sure some creatures were stirring including a mouse. After a last minute decision to pick up something for the shortest people I know (it is my prerogative as height-challenged to refer to children as "short") I decided my soul needed some attention and thus did my bicycle fly me over the now icy black tar MacAdam and carry me to the AGO's current show "Chagall and the Russian Avant-Garde".

I have a sort of self-conscious curiosity about Russian Jewish artists. It feels like that world should be familiar but it's entirely foreign. From what appears as a repressive Hassidic tradition springs an almost uncontainable expression. There were two paintings in particular that almost made me laugh out loud (imagine the tweet: "Chagall! LOL!") – I know that makes no sense but you could really feel an infectious joy in these paintings. Or maybe you feel that way because the rest of the exhibit is full of dire death and seriousness of socialism. Take a pill, Socialists, seriously bumming us out.

The Dance, Marc Chagall, image via Terminartors Artist Database

You can see the vibrancy of the painting above and can imagine it can just seem like "Well, someone's having a good time over here." The exhibit did a nice job of putting Chagall's work in context of his time and just how those artists were influenced by folk and religious iconic art but in general, you know, these shows are always a little too much of "his contemporaries" and not enough Chagall himself.

Still, I'm glad I went. Consider it a mini-recharge. The building itself offers so sunny moments too so it was some time well spent. It's funny but there were definitely a lot of parents with their grown children, back on their university break, walking and talking at the gallery, catching up and just seeming to be happy to be in each other's company. At least that's the story I conjured for myself.



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