A veteran photojournalist on the Toronto arts and entertainment scene, Julian Bynoe is a Toronto-based cartoonist, artist and arts blogger. From 1996 to 2014, he was the arts/entertainment editor for the street publication The Outreach Connection, and has had articles featured in Realms Magazine, among others.

EDITION #22 - WEEK OF NOVEMBER 10-16, 2014

Perfectionism’s pleasure and pain

Michelangelo: Quest for Genius

Venue: Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas Street West

Dates/Times: Through January 11, 2015; Tuesday-Sunday 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. (Wednesdays 10 a.m.-8:30 p.m.)

Admission/Information: Adults $19.50, Seniors $16, Students/Youth $11, Child (under 5) FREE. Call 416-879-6648 or ago.net/michelangelo-quest-for-genius.

Left to right: Michelangelo’s “Studies for the Head of Leda” for his Leda and The Swan project; finished version of “Cleopatra” of a two-sided sketch that was discovered in 1988 and a digitalized interactive video reproduction of “Madonna and Child.”

Gallery Review

Perfectionism can be a curse or blessing for any artist and if you should meet one who states they’re completely satisfied with the finished product, is a bold-face liar. Bearing truth in all this come in the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Michelangelo: Quest for Genius exhibit done in a loosely thematic display not only of the famed artisan who created the ceiling paintings of the Sistine Chapel and such, but includes latter-day protégé Auguste Rodin, in three sections to give another glimpse at the man and his 77-year artistic career.

A rock star artist of his day, Michelangelo kept most of his scribbles to himself and burned quite a few shortly before his death to prevent copycats from stealing his ideas. So popular were his drawings that even one mention of it created a major buzz around Rome who wanted to possess it, including the Pope. Composed mainly of thirty 500-year old rare drawings of the 600 still in existence courtesy of his Casa Buonarotti mansion-turned-museum in Florence, the exhibit views all his groundbreaking ventures from his human body studies to military fortifications.

Mostly in red chalk, the renderings are painfully accurate with a sense of subtlety such as “Study of a Man’s Face, for the Sistine Chapel Ceiling,” “Studies of a Left Thigh and Knee, a Right Knee, and a Right Foot” or “Tabernacle with Niche.” But looking at “Fortifications for the Porta al Prato in Florence” done in pen and ink with brown wash on paper, the “staining” gives one an appreciation of it, given it was a rush job in 1529 when Florence was about to be invaded by the armies of Medici Pope Clement VII who spared it at the eleventh hour and, ironically, would be Michelangelo’s biggest patron.

For his experimental drawings, something majestic lies within the black chalk on paper “Study for the Risen Christ” and “The Sacrifice of Isaac,” plus his more innovative works like photos of a staircase in the Library of San Lorenzo is a prime example of incorporating a waterfall-like design involving three sets of stairs and a central staircase personally reserved for the Pope’s usage.

In the Struggle and Defiance section, the unrealized projects Michelangelo left behind due to either politics, impossible deadlines, personal matters or simply they were way ahead of their time as seen in “Study for Christ in Limbo” for an idea of Christ descending into hell for a lost soul has some vision and concept; the floor plans for Rome’s Church of San Giovanni del Fiorentini finally “built” through a computer-generated video adds a nice accompaniment to the original drawing and “The Tomb of Pope Julius II” that took forty years to complete which would have consisted of 40 statutes, paired down to just a handful as it now stands.

As earlier mentioned, Rodin gets a spotlight here, too. An admirer of Michelangelo who also suffered for his art, mirrored a few of his idol’s sculptures to his own from his masterpiece “The Thinker” – seen here in a mini cast bronze bust – to the posthumous “Gates of Hell” which he never saw in his lifetime due to its (then) complexity and government red tape entanglement. One better example shown is the commissioned “Burghers of Calais”, based on the 1347 Siege of Calais by British King Edward III; is decent although you can see how it doesn’t share the vision Rodin has of “Eustache de Saint Pierre” and “Andrieux d’Andres, Clothed” statues after toiling on them for five years straight due to the constant revisions his patrons wanted.

Left to right: Auguste Rodin’s bronzes “Adam” with “Gates of Hell” image (background); The Burghers of Calais project statues “Eustache de Saint Pierre” and “Andrieux d’Andres, Clothed.”

Michelangelo: Quest for Genius gives both artists a proper showing on their artistic agonies for success and acceptance by the public and their peers, including their legacies for those looking to strive to the same level as they did, as Michelangelo himself stated regarding his unmade “Studies for the Façade of San Lorenzo” of carving a statue out of a mountain: “If I could have sure of living four times longer than I have lived, I would have taken it on.” Go see this.

Robo-hero tale triumphs

Big Hero 6 (Walt Disney)

Voice Talents: Scott Adsit, Ryan Potter, Daniel Henney, T.J. Miller

Directors: Don Hall and Chris Williams

Producer: Ron Conli

Screenplay: Robert L. Baird, Daniel Gerson and Jordan Roberts; story by Don Hall and Jordan Roberts, based on the Marvel comic book series by Duncan Rouleau and Steven T. Seagle

Film Review

Disney goes the anime way of sorts for the animated futuristic superhero film Big Hero 6, a surprisingly good action-adventure containing some of the most impressive computer animation that’s come from the House of Mouse in quite a while that has heart as well as it does visually appeals from a little-known title from the Marvel comic book universe.

Thirteen-year old Hiro Hanada (Potter) is a restless kid genius with a flair for robotics as does his elder brother Tadashi (Henney) residing with their guardian aunt Cass (Maya Rudolph) in the Amerasian metropolis San Fransokyo – a fictional hybridization of cities San Francisco and Tokyo – finally gains an interest in attending Tadashi’s university just to be in the robotics lab of its regarded professor in the field, Robert Callaghan (James Cromwell).

When a tragic blaze during a robotic fair claims Tadashi and Callaghan, a painfully withdrawn Hiro’s only consolation is his brother’s surviving pet project, a bulbous, inflatable healthcare robot with a naïve but gentle soul called Baymax (Adsit), along with fellow classmates the gutsy Go Go Tomago (Jamie Chung), orderly freak Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.), bubbly brainy Honey Lemon (Génesis Rodriguez) and weirdo school mascot wannabe Fred (Miller) to help him through this tough period.

Looking to find out the cause of the fire, they come across a possible connection to a high-tech industrialist (Alan Tudyk) that wanted Hiro’s micro-robotic invention at the fair. Together, with Hiro upgrading Baymax as a fighting robot; they become a novice superhero team from their technical knowhow to stop a Kabuki mask-wearing nemesis from destroying San Fransokyo.

Taking all the science-fiction and superhero genres from Blade Runner to The Avengers, directors Don Hall (2011’s Winnie the Pooh) and Chris Williams (2008’s Bolt) provides some smarts, thrills and humour countered with elements of tenderness and revenge much like Hiro’s adolescent mood swings with his inability to grieve properly and find a purpose, thanks to the solid adaptation by Robert L. Baird, Daniel Gerson and Jordan Roberts with plenty of surprises in store (stick around when the end credits finishing rolling for the big coup de grâce).

Potter’s pretty good as the conflicted teen prodigy paired perfectly with Adist’s soft-voiced automaton learning and understanding human behaviour trying to be the better half to his conscience and showing a lot more humanity than his blank eyes will divulge. The remaining cast are equally great in their roles as friends and willing partners-in-crimefighters, with Miller getting the best lines as the group’s comic relief. A blast for kids, adults and superhero fans, Big Hero 6’s East-West mash-up is a winner on all levels. A sequel, pretty please.

Also, the preceding short Feast about a dog named Winston and his human who takes care of him from homeless street pup to adult through the meals they share could be misconstrued as a tale about gluttony, evolves as a little love story when it intersects with the man getting involved with a girlfriend by first-time animator Patrick Osborne (a name to watch) done in a final-line advection method – a steady/unsteady time flow – makes for a charming compliment to said feature.

“Bad” dad’s back with more

Even More Bad Parenting Advice

by Guy Delisle; English translation by Helge Dascher and Rob Aspinall

191 pp., Drawn & Quarterly/Raincoast Books

$12.95, Softcover

Graphic Novel/Humour

Book Review

The dad of “bad” parenting returns with another insightful (as possible) chronicle on childrearing, Even More Bad Parenting Advice from Guy Delisle from his acclaimed 2013 bestselling rib-tickler A User’s Guide to Neglectful Parenting, as the Québec-born cartoonist continues his misadventures in parenting with son Louis and daughter Alice in southern France and it’s more hilarious than before.

Through his simplistic vignettes of ink and pen, Delisle recounts on everything on being the easy-going if often-imperfect views of fatherhood in how to duck out of a boring party by using one of your kids as an excuse (“The Housewarming Party”), getting even with one classroom bully at Alice’s birthday party (“The Piñata”) or the book’s best moment when he tries to explain, in very graphic details, on why Louis has to protect his sister from possible intruders during an overnight trip (“A Night at the B&B”).

His partner Nadège gets a little bit more of a presence here than last time in her being the one with the most common sense – a.k.a. “the bad guy” – when she asks Louis to recite a poem on the spot with his father quietly helping out (“The Dunce”) or reassuring him about dieting (“Overweight”) when Delisle states otherwise as a duality switch. His better moments come when he commits a big mistake doodling while getting disinterested at a parent-teacher meeting (“Flashback”) and perhaps his sweetest story “Noon, Monday” in spending time with the kids for lunch and goes on a roll on him earning their Best Dad in The World prize, which any father treasures the most from his children.

It may not seem much under 191 pages, but Delisle firmly puts himself in the side of lighthearted family humour on doing the best he can since there’s no universal code book on parenthood as one would attest, as it is a lifetime work in progress. Yet he makes it seem it’s alright in the end when he gets a bit too blunt with his honesty (“Hide and Seek,” “Swimming at Réunion Island”) through his sketchbook of real life with warmth and delight in the sometimes outrageous candor that wins out every time.