Denyse Thomasos at Olga Korper

I'm bowled over with the work of Denyse Thomasos.

While paintings can speak to me for their technical achievement, use of narrative, or knowledge of history, Thomasos reached in and shook me not only for those reasons but also for her work's sheer living, breathing energy.

"Flight" at the Olga Korper Gallery in Toronto is abstract in nature. The paintings are free and complex. Underneath and off to the sides, she paints in colour fields, then superimposes a rich abstract expressionism with overtones of lowbrow.

The aesthetic is urban. You feel the city's chaos, the uncontrollable ebb and flow of noise and colour. Geometrical shapes multiply and spread. Colour and composition are graffiti-like.

Born in Trinidad, raised in Toronto, and currently living in New York, Thomasos says she's interested in structures used to confine people of colour. In an enormous painting called "Arc," roughly the size of two stacked billboards, you make out boats (either slave boats or row boats used by fleeing refugees), spaces reminiscent of prisons or cages, and skulls.

Then every so often, interestingly, a boat takes on the shape of a wing, or a confining space connects to something larger that seems a rocket or high-speed train.

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