The one thing you should see this week: an eerie glimpse into a world that’s almost real

The one thing you should see this week: an eerie glimpse into a world that’s almost real

Abandoned Greenhouse
Adam Makarenko’s Abandoned Greenhouse, part of Green Refuges

This week’s pick: Adam Makarenko’s Green Refuges at Bau-Xi Photo

There’s something off about Adam Makarenko’s photographs—his greens are too lush, his skies too clear, his mists too ethereal. This is not merely the world as seen through the lens of a photographer. This is a heightened world, an artist’s dream engineered into existence.

Makarenko’s breathtaking shots are masterful feats of illusion. His swamps, highways and even bloodied animal carcasses are actually painstakingly constructed dioramas—he handcrafts each exquisite detail by hand, from the logs on a skidder to a raven’s wings. He then photographs them and radically alters the perspective of the miniatures using camera tricks and technological wizardry, manufacturing likenesses of sweeping landscapes, hulking shadows and far-reaching vistas (no surprise that he cites X-Files director of photography Bill Roe as a major influence).

Diorama has come back into vogue recently, shedding its kitschy dollhouse and elementary school rep, with artists like Alan Wolfson, Lori Nix and Thomas Doyle leading this new wave of miniature mania. But Makarenko’s work, which champions not the subject but the execution, transcends both diorama and photography; the form is symbiotically matched with the content.

Picking up on the artist’s preoccupation with the collisions between man and nature, Makarenko’s current exhibit at Bau-Xi Photo looks at green spaces, whether natural (the bubbling marshes and murky bogs of the Deep South), manmade (futuristic geodesic domes and greenhouses in fertile valleys) or abandoned (deserted greenhouses reclaimed by nature). The images betray notes of hope, despair and ambivalence, but they’re tempered by the artist’s cinematic gaze; the result is magic.

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The details: To July 23. Free. Bau-Xi Photo, 324 Dundas St. W., 416-977-0400,