Tag Archives: art fair

Hello, 2011!

If you’re anything like me you were likely equally astounded and amazed by the events that defined 2010. We watched Vancouver host the Olympics, and not without some controversy; we saw Toronto host the G20 summit, and controversy? Understatement; we met the vuvuzuela with mixed results; we watched the explosion at Deepwater Horizon and the BP underwater webcam feed with disgusted rapture; natural disasters like floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions were a regular headline; we celebrated the Chilean miners who survived nearly 10 weeks underground; we mourned the passing of JD Salinger, Alexander McQueen, Gary Coleman, Dennis Hopper, and more. All told it was a year of 365 days, and a million and a half memories.

At the fair, we had a banner year! A record number of visitors came through the turnstiles at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to celebrate eleven years of the Toronto International Art Fair. We were joined by a roster of sponsors, as well as exhibiting galleries and featured artists that set the year apart as one of the Fair’s best!

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2010, we salute you!

But 2010 is last year’s news – 2011 is what’s all the rage! If you’ve been entertaining ideas about see Art Toronto up close and personal, this is the year to do it. We’re going to have more of everything you want — more programming, more artists, more galleries, more collectors!

Art Toronto is currently accepting applications — why not click here and take a read through what some of our past participants have said about the fair? Convinced? Click here to download our application package.

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Seeing the future through the past: An interview with Luke Painter

By Zoe

I once lived in a purple house in Montreal with some roommates including the Toronto artist and Professor, Luke Painter. They made sure I went to see Arcade Fire for $7, introduced me to Dim Sum and helped me to understand the beginnings of contemporary painting.

Photo: Rannie Turingan (BlogTO)

Luke has shown drawings and an installation-based works at a number of venues including Angell Gallery in Toronto, Bonneau Samames Art Contemporain in Marseille, France, the Pulse Art Fair in New York and Plus Gallery in Denver.  Luke has exhibited with Angell Gallery since 2002 and has been in Art Toonto four times. In 2008, Luke Painter was included in the Carte Blanche 2, a book of contemporary Canadian Painting.

Luke’s willingness to help everyone around him has made him a bit of a legend.  To those of us who are lucky enough to have known him over the years, we have seen great growth in his work and a variation and maturity in his art practice. He works really hard and makes things happen. 

The Harbour (Malting)

Zoe Pawlak: In recent works we see a merging of new and old, the antiquated and that which has the appearance of being futuristic. How does the convergence of past and future imagery play into your work?

Luke Painter: Over the past few years I have been working on large-scale paintings rendered with India ink and brush on paper that utilize disparate elements within figures and landscapes to create a sense of historical ambiguity. These works are intentionally mimetic of traditional printmaking techniques (woodcut, engraving) and composite methods used in digital media (Photoshop), but the end result is a singular work on paper.  I am interested in combining older forms of ornamentation and patterning with contemporary subject matter and/or modern looking individuals.

ZP: You have lived in both Montreal and Toronto. Having grown up in Toronto and now living there as an adult and an artist, what influences are you taking most from the city itself?

Carte Blanche

LP: I am deeply affected by the city I live in and I often incorporate aspects of my surroundings into my work. In one of my drawings titled, The Harbour (Malting), I have used an old grain silo as a reference for this particular work. This grain silo is located on Queens Quay near Bathurst St in Toronto and is one of two remaining silos originally built in 1928 that was used to store malt. Built from concrete, the stripped-down and unadorned functionalism of the building was a precursor to modernist trends in architecture. It has been unused since the 1980’s and there has been debate about how the site should be utilized, with talk of a museum or theme park. I grew up in this neighborhood, which has been quickly developed into a condo landscape. Canada Malting has now become an interesting anomaly in the midst of accelerated development. My own interest in the building comes from a desire to reformulate the material of the building back to wood, in which they were originally built (they were changed to concrete to avoid burning down). I decided to take the concept one step further by rendering the surrounding area in wood to amplify the once natural surroundings that populated this area around Lake Ontario. I imagine Canada Malting to be an eyesore for many of the new condo residents, but it continues to hold a personal resonance with me as I grew up nearby.

ZP: Toronto has really been gaining international attention for events like Nuit Blanche and Art Toronto.  What have these events meant to Toronto’s working artists like yourself?

LP:   Having just witnessed this years Nuit Blanche I have to say that I really like the event.  For many people I know it is art-lite or art that is for entertainment and not for contemplation.  I personally think it can be both.  Both Art Toronto and Nuit Blanche have been good for raising awareness about the Toronto scene in international circles.

Victorian Bust

ZP: In 2008, you received a Canadian Council Artist Grant. What did you make with this grant and what does it mean to be supported in this way?

LP:   In 2008 I received a Canada Council Artist Grant for a work titled From Victorian to Modernism to What?  This installation shown in May 2010 at 47 Space in Toronto reflected on the compulsion to personally connect with (and often transform) the architecture of our surroundings. Over the past couple of years I worked with my father to build a scale model of a specific Victorian house from a neighbourhood where we both used to live. 
Approximately 8’ tall and heavily ornamented, the structure is too small
to be a real house and too large to be a dollhouse.  On the rear wall
of the building, two eyes made from stained glass project animations
depicting architectural sites specific to Toronto that have personal
resonance with me and that nod to the transitioning nature of
neighbourhoods in the city. It was an important project for me. I started to think about larger works with bigger budgets and I am now starting to apply for some more ambitious projects. 

Woodlot Mansion

LP: I am deeply affected by the city I live in and I often incorporate aspects of my surroundings into my work. In one of my drawings titled, The Harbour (Malting), I have used an old grain silo as a reference for this particular work. This grain silo is located on Queens Quay near Bathurst St in Toronto and is one of two remaining silos originally built in 1928 that was used to store malt. Built from concrete, the stripped-down and unadorned functionalism of the building was a precursor to modernist trends in architecture. It has been unused since the 1980’s and there has been debate about how the site should be utilized, with talk of a museum or theme park. I grew up in this neighborhood, which has been quickly developed into a condo landscape. Canada Malting has now become an interesting anomaly in the midst of accelerated development. My own interest in the building comes from a desire to reformulate the material of the building back to wood, in which they were originally built (they were changed to concrete to avoid burning down). I decided to take the concept one step further by rendering the surrounding area in wood to amplify the once natural surroundings that populated this area around Lake Ontario. I imagine Canada Malting to be an eyesore for many of the new condo residents, but it continues to hold a personal resonance with me as I grew up nearby.

ZP: Toronto has really been gaining international attention for events like Nuit Blanche and Art Toronto.  What have these events meant to Toronto’s working artists like yourself?

LP:   Having just witnessed this years Nuit Blanche I have to say that I really like the event.  For many people I know it is art-lite or art that is for entertainment and not for contemplation.  I personally think it can be both.  Both Art Toronto and Nuit Blanche have been good for raising awareness about the Toronto scene in international circles.

Plume

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Be 1 of 30, but 1 in a million to us!

MOCCA has commissioned Toronto-based artist Jason McLean to produce 9-5, (2009), a limited edition four-colour silkscreen print on archival paper. The prints will be exclusively available during the fair, and with only thirty prints available at a very reasonable price of $800.00 they will be sure to sell quickly. All proceeds from the sale will contribute to the support of programming initiatives at MOCCA.

Jason McLean graduated from the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1997, and has since received wide national and international acclaim. His diverse practice includes drawing, sculpture, installation, sound performance and mail art. Much of his work contains collaborative elements. In 2008, McLean re-located his practice from Vancouver to Toronto.

In 2009 his work has been included in the exhibitions Pulp Fiction and Arena: Road Game, at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, as well as a solo exhibition at Jessica Bradley Art + Projects in Toronto.  In recent years his work has been included in solo and group exhibitions in New York, Miami, Malmo, Padova, Berlin, Madrid, Mexico City, and Dublin and he is represented internationally by Richard Heller Gallery in Santa Monica, U.S.A, Perugi ArteContemporanea Gallery, in Padova, Italy, and LaViolaBank Gallery, in New York City, U.S.A.

Jason McLean is represented in Canada by Jessica Bradley Art + Projects, Toronto.

Jason McLean, 9-5, 2009 (Edition of 30 + 10 A/P), Four-colour silkscreen on archival paper, 30” x 22”, Price: $800.00 (unframed)

Jason McLean, 9-5, 2009 (Edition of 30 + 10 A/P), Four-colour silkscreen on archival paper, 30” x 22”, Price: $800.00 (unframed)

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Lost, and Found, in Translation

My boss travels the world. Since I started with the fair in March he’s gone to Montreal, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Germany, Japan. Right now he’s in the Hamptons. I’m completely green with envy.

He combs the world for new art, new galleries, new movements to showcase at the fair. It says a few things. First off, it shows just how lucrative the art biz can be; it also illustrates how aggressive you have to be to stay just ahead of the curve. But the thing I love most about this is that it demonstrates one of the things that I love about the art world – art transcends language.  Go to any international art fair and you might meet a hundred people who all speak different languages, but who share a common ground in art.

That said, his travel serves our patrons too — this year he’s recruited some very fine galleries from the far reaches of the world who are coming to the fair for the first time. It’s so exciting to think that this fair is shaped by a million hands, a million perspectives. This is a world fair, and the world is coming to the fair.

And if you think about it, between the travel-time, the jet-lag, the hotel beds, the taxi cabs, and all the rest of it, a normal person can’t spend an entire year jetting around from one place to the next in search of art. But a normal person can definitely make it to the Toronto International Art Fair for four days of the finest contemporary art from Toronto and the rest of the world! And that’s one of the things that I love about my job — who don’t have to be an expert, you don’t have to spend half your life on airplanes and in hotels to see the world’s finest. All you have to do is go to Toronto this October.

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The Brange at Basel

Yesterday I tweeted about Brad Pitt buying a $1mil piece of art at Art Basel. The work in question is a Neo Rauch rainbow-colored racetrack painting, “Etappe”.

Star-struckedness aside, I think this is an apt time to mention how sincerely I hope that in years from now I’ll  be able to visit Basel and the other fairs of note so that I can see first-hand the perspectives of other art fairs and their audiences.

Of Switzerland, Steve Erlanger of the New York Times says the movement of the gears is quiet and precise. Rumours of the fair float over my cube walls telling me that in light of, or despite the staid nature of the country, Basel is a classic example of the fun of the art world that can be accessed even by the most tertiary, the most passive citizens of the art world. It’s this accessibility that makes it such fun, no doubt.

“The economic crisis is everywhere, of course, but it’s harder to see in wealthy Basel, where there are still a lot of tourists, and restaurants and hotels seem full,” says Erlanger.

With that in mind, I’ll share with you what occured to me this morning as I was brushing my teeth. I initially learned of the purchase from laineygossip.com, a gossip blog dedicated to the lifestyles (and pitfalls) of the rich and famous. How that nugget of celebrity-cum-collector news made it to the gossips first and the art monitors second I’m not sure.

I feel confident assuming that Pitt’s $1mil buy is neither the only nor the largest of it’s kind at Basel. Renowned for it’s scope and sheer size of it’s audience, it stands to reason that there are likely many purchases of that nature happening at Basel (as they do at every other fair) daily. However, at a time when so many collectors are acquiring pieces on the down-low — the collectors and dealers discretely doing business without disclosing to the media or the public at large what changed hands and for what sum — it feels out of place that this sale should be made so flagrantly public. So why the conspicuous consumption, Mr Pitt?

In my last few posts I’ve discussed how the downturned economy is not such a bad thing for the art world, and a recent National Post article showed that Canadian consumer confidence is currently the highest it’s been in over a year. One of my theories is that this is all about Polo. A couple weeks ago I saw pics of a Hollywood power-couple at a polo match decked head to toe in Ralph Lauren. An obvious endorsement. Is this action at Basel Hollywood’s way of saying that it’s citizens support the arts?

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Times like these…

At a time when most everyone furrows their brow and digs their hands in their pockets at the mention of the state of the current economy (and let’s face it, it stinks) it’s the time that events like Art Toronto really flourish!

Impossible, you say? It’s true!

It’s times like these that the new kids on the block come out of the cracks to try new things. And it’s times like these that events like Art Toronto offer up free sneaky-peakies into the fair for newbies. And thus the circle of life.

Kind of an interesting paradigm. As a result of TIAF offering complimentary passes this year to galleries who have never shown at the fair, next year visitors to the fair can count on seeing even more new faces.

Anyone who’s ever been to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre knows what a colossus that building is. With a mix of our faithful patron galleries, who have already seen what showing at TIAF can do for business, and an ever-growing cross-section of international galleries going in new and unexpected directions in contemporary art, a question springs to mind:

What are we going to do when we outgrow our shell?

It’s the kind of question that really loosens the brow and invites a broad smile, you know?

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A short start to a long conversation

Since I got my start in publishing years ago the idea of an economy of arts has always fascinated me.

“Art” and “Economy” — they are two words you wouldn’t normally think could co-exist in a sentence, but the art world has a currency and economy all it’s own. And this goes for every art culture.

What is arts’ value? What is art’s worth? What will you pay for art?  While they might seem like the same question, closely inspected they are all very different.

Let’s look at something innocuous (so-called because I have nothing to do with this industry!) the MUSIC industry. What does one song cost? You can get it from iTunes for $0.99. Is that what it’s worth? If you’re talking about the latest Britney Spears tune, you might not agree that it’s worth a buck, you might even say it’s worth more. Let’s consider in the broadest of terms what it cost to produce that single song — including the cost of all the Volvic that she drank — you ‘ve got to pay the writers, the artists, other musicians, production costs, marketing and so on. We’re into the high-end of six-figures, for sure. But for all the money invested, it’s fair to say that this Britney song will have a short shelf-life and eventually drift silently into oblivion.

So. We have something you could buy for less than a buck, which costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to make, and has an ultimate worth of nil.

The relationship between price, cost and worth is skewed and seemingly disjointed. Yet it appears that they all exist in a delicate balance with one another, all three simultaneously sacred and profane.

Art is an expression, an impression, a meaning, a feeling, an impulse, an irresistable urge. It is the manifestation of something ultimately intangible in something perceivable by our senses in paint or sculpture or photograph, and others. How can you put a price on art?

Art inspires, it confuses, it humbles, it glorifies, it stands alone, it fits in. Some people wait years just to see a work and decades appreciating it, others let works languish in neglect, gathering dust, forgotten. How do you value art?

Artists rise and fall, artists are panned and lauded, critiqued and praised, courted and curried, some works sold to the highest bidder, and some works are bought-in. But how do you judge art’s worth?

It seems to me that every stage is raw and vulgar and secretive and exclusive, and overarchingly subjective. There is no true way to qualify and quantify effort or market value or appreciation. And yet, at some point there is a figure for everything — but I’m left with more questions than answers.

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