Bringing a whole new meaning to “Ikea art”

When you say “Ikea art,” I think of generic, upper-middle-class “art” by the truckload: Warhol portraits, or Breakfast at Tiffany’s stills, or stock-like glossy photography of hothouse flowers. But the Wednesday-night opening of exhibitIKEA, a Toronto pop-up at the corner of King and Peter streets, smashed that perception to bits.

Four Canadian creators were called in to work their particular tricks with IKEA’s wares. Dressmaker populaire David Dixon turned bolts of standard-issue IKEA fabric into sweet frocks. George Whiteside snapped Instagram-style still-lifes of vases and such (not so dissimilar to paintings by B.C.’s Joseph Plaskett). Sculptor/stacker Bruno Billio made a curvilinear tower of alternating black-and-white chairs—a bit ’70s-conceptual, as is the trend, and cool. And the piece de resistance was by one-time enfant terrible, now established art dude Thrush Holmes. He assembled a small wreck of a house out of not only IKEA products but also their packaging, adding his own improv’d scrawls of paint and neon. It reminded me a) of one of the most fun exhibits I’ve seen, “FischGratenMelkStand” in Berlin last summer and b) not to take any of this too seriously. After all, these good artists are only doing what good college students and yupsters do every September: reassemble IKEA’s clean, straightforward, easy-for-everybody goods into something personal.

exhibitIKEA runs through Sunday August 21, 2011.

View photos of the exhibit »

More Celebrity