Tag Archives: Toronto

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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The art of progress, the progress of art (fairs)

Bang, clang, crash — it’s a raucous time at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and the show is still a day and a half away from opening. It’s one of the things I love best about working on huge shows like these. The chaos is exhilarating and the panic (luckily) is often unwarranted.

Early stages of construction

The MTCC is a hangar; it’s a vast, wide open space. If you tried to cartwheel from one end to the other you’d surely wind up in bed for a week.

Things are moving along...

But over the past few days I’ve watched as the hall filled with trucks, forklifts, then walls, lights and soon with hundreds of exhibitors. It’s still a barren, colourless place, the white walls doing little to break up the monotony of the grey cement floor. In a few short hours the MTCC will welcome the first giant waves of exhibitors and the show floor will be absolutely transformed as if by magic!

Lights are on, but nobody's home

I’ll be updating and posting whenever I can so you can see what I see. But please dear readers, forgive me if you find typos, grammatical mistakes, or anything that appears to be evidence of lack of sleep or temporary insanity.

And don’t forget — you can buy tickets online for $16 — that’s $2 off the door price!

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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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Smoking in the ladies room

There are few things that turn my crank more than strong, innovative artists and powerful, adventurous women. Together the two elements pack a heck of a wallop. This weeks wallop: the second in a series of artist profiles by dynamo artist-entrepreneur extraordinaire Zoe Pawlak, this time the focus on an artist both local to Vancouver and in attendance at Art Toronto 2010, Fiona Ackerman.

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By Zoe

I have the great pleasure of sharing my studio with one of the hardest working ladies in Vancouver. Fiona Ackerman’s got a sense of great humor, likes good beer and knows what she’s talking about when it comes to painting. She is the perfect studio mate and is quickly becoming my fastest-made friend.

Fiona Ackerman is a rising star in the Vancouver art scene. Her two paintings in The Cheaper Show were bought up by the first two people in line and this fall she is enjoying the success of a second show at the Diane Farris Gallery with painters Will Murray and Nick Lepard. Parts Gallery is currently showing her work in Toronto and taking her to Art Toronto for the first time.

Zoe Pawlak: You said that showing at Art Toronto was like a 5 year goal for you and now it is happening for the first time this year. You are making the trek out from Vancouver to attend. With a job, a toddler and an active studio practice here at home in Vancouver, why is it of such importance to be in Toronto for the show?

Fiona Ackerman: I miss a lot of events and opportunities to chat with people because I’m juggling such a chaotic life at the moment. This will be my first chance to really just soak it in in some time, and I’ve been wanting to go for a few years. Having Parts Gallery bring some of my work to Art Toronto gave me just the excuse I needed to book a ticket. In a country as large as Canada, new painting tends to get considered in a very regional context. I am curious to see work brought from all over Canada show under one roof, in an international context.

ZP: There is a huge rise in women working outside of the home, but we often hear that real support for working women falls short. Being a mom and wanting to be in the studio full time, what challenges do you face?

FA: Actually, I’m not sure the challenges are special to being a mom. I think any parent trying to build a career with a young family at home will be challenged by a lack of time, and likely a lack of money. My particular challenge is part of what I do, or rather what I am – a painter. To say I work outside of the home would be unfair to my family. My work follows me everywhere, it follows me home. Yes, I have to share my time, I would love to be in the studio ‘full time’. That day will come. But my love ones will have to share me with painting forever.

ZP: Your abstract work is often void of direct narrative about your personal life. Was the figurative painting “Distraction” (which won Honorable Mention for the Kingston Portrait Competition) a bit about your longing for painting and it’s conflict with family life?

FA: Distraction is about sharing my love and attention. It is about the challenge of wanting a family, and being very driven as an artists. One is always a distraction from the other. At first I thought I was painting a portrait of a father and son. But as I looked at them sitting there, staring back at me from their assigned places on the sofa, I realized I couldn’t possibly paint a portrait of their relationship. They were sitting for me, and where I should have been seeing my family, I was seeing them in paint.

ZP: Your father, artist Gregor Hiltner, has enjoyed a successful, but somewhat unconventional career. How do his career choices influence your decision-making process as to where to show and how to work?

FA: I have learned so much from my father, and continue to. He always points out the joy and pleasure in the struggle to be an artist. Of course we all have big egos and want a successful career, but deep down it is truly about the quality of the work for him. I was very proud to show with him in Germany a few years ago, and I really hope that opportunity comes again soon. His advice is to proceed in your career with integrity, and paint with determination.

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There is only one Damien Hirst

From humble beginnings, adolescing with a motley crew of freaks and geeks, he rose to the centre of the world stage, earning millions at auction; there is no before, no after, there is only one Damien Hirst.

Galerie de Bellefeuille will use Art Toronto 2010 as the stage for the debut of Damien Hirst’s works in Canada. This show is the FIRST of its kind in Canada! The gallery will present a selection of iconic Hirst trademark works including his butterflies, skulls, pharmaceuticals, spots paintings, prints, and other limited edition artwork in a special curated space. You can find Galerie de Bellefeuille in booth 420 with their curated Damien Hirst booth in the adjacent booth 510.

The Hirst show will then take up residence at its home in Montreal where Galerie de Bellefeuille will show it from November 6 until December 6.

No slouch, Hirst’s body of work confronts the scientific, philosophical and religious aspects of human existence and includes sculpture, painting and printmaking. He has exhibited widely, has been written about extensively and was awarded the Turner Prize in 1995 for The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living.

If you ignore the art world records Hirst set (and often re-set) and also ignore the fact that he was an integral force behind the movement and group that became the Young British Artists, if you forget that he has been behind some of the most talked about art pieces of the last 50 years you can perhaps focus on the ways that Hirst is not unlike you or I.

Like us he had to work his way through the regular channels, including an unremarkable school career and a challenging home environment. Like us he met with delays and rejections, with mentors and inspiration. He didn’t just stick with it, he recognized his own talent and pushed it as far as it could go.

I hope that young artists who attend Art Toronto 2010 will keep that in mind as they look at his Pharmaceuticals, as they ponder his All You Need is Love, Love, Love, or as they wonder at his For The Love of God. It’s not like you wake up one day as an artist with patrons and fleets of volunteers to help piece together works. It’s a lot of sweat, and a lot of rejection, and a lot of just waiting for that right moment when the stars align to make the universe yours.

What’s more, if you spy super-artist Alex McLeod at Art Toronto, he’ll tell you much the same! (#Amiright @alex_mcleod_?)

Guess what? Tickets for the show are NOW ON SALE.

What else? The first three people to comment on this blog with a fact about Damien Hirst will win a pair of tickets (valued at $36) to the show. So when your friends ask what you’re doing the weekend of October 29th, you’ll tell them you’re going to see the nation’s biggest and best international art fair (and if you act soon enough, you get to see it for free too!)

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Food for thought: Schnabel, art and film

By Julia

Last week’s opening of artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel’s exhibition at the AGO prompted me to revisit the idea of mixed media within the arts. Described as a “master at both” Schnabel first became a household name in the 80s with his large-scale works, most notably his trademark “broken plate” paintings. Years later he tried his hand at film and directed such renowned films as ‘Before Night Falls’ and ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’ as well as ‘Basquiat’. Schnabel claims that there is no direct correlation between creating a painting and creating a film; that he uses two completely different parts of his brain. However, there are probably a good number of individuals in the artistic community that would be inclined to disagree with this statement.

A friend just began a two year tenure at film school. On the first day of school the students were handed a bushel of art supplies and a first term schedule chock-full of drawing, painting, and art history classes. My friend wondered what he had signed up for, as this first day was slightly reminiscent of my first day of art school where paints, pencils and sketch books were something we anticipated. While first-timers in film school might expect to be bombarded with expensive filming equipment and a director’s chair, the raw creative process behind every blockbuster is something overlooked.

In recent years, drawing and animation have become hot commodities in art school. Some films are made entirely through drawing – look at the work of William Kentridge for example, a pioneer of modern-day animation. This begs the question: a draftsman or a filmmaker? While Kentridge’s work stands on its own as a work of art, films stem from initial drawings and paintings and have been rooted in this medium long before the days of computers.

Many will agree that various mediums of art would not exist without others – Exhibit A: painting and film. Some food for thought: would you agree with Julian Schnabel? Do these two mediums have to remain uninfluenced by each other? Or is it important to be exposed to all aspects of artistic practice before being able to truly appreciate one media.

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Evan Lee in dialogue with Emily Carr: a portrait of British Columbia

by Julia

As a student, my artistic practice focused on two subjects: painting and photography.  As far as I was concerned, these two media came from two completely separate worlds – Monet belonged to one, Mapplethorpe to the other.  It wasn’t until the completion of my undergrad career that I did my homework thoroughly enough to discover that these two media did not have to exist eons apart.  While the artistic practice of painting remains my first and most important love, I have recently felt the urge to reintroduce myself to the world of photography that I had for so long neglected – among others, I have a British Columbia artist to thank for that.

Enter Evan Lee.      

The Vancouver Art Gallery currently features British Columbia’s celebrated painter, Emily Carr, in an exhibit titled In Dialogue with Carr.  In this display Carr’s work is put in conversation with four contemporary British Columbia artists: Douglas Coupland, Liz Magor, Marianne Nicholson, and Evan Lee.  One component of the exhibition that hit close to home for me was Evan Lee’s work, as he combined painting with photography, making for an interesting dialogue with Carr’s work.  Carr and Lee are both considered contemporaries of their time, which is illustrated in their “conversation”.

Evan Lee’s recent Forest Fires series as displayed at the VAG, presents us with a mixture of media in the form of expansion of the medium of photography.  Using images of British Columbia forest fires that he found on the internet, Lee prints photographs on traditional darkroom paper using an inkjet printer.  Immediately after the images have printed, Lee uses a paint brush to transform the freshly printed photographs into “paintings” that are reminiscent of the French Impressionist’s work.  While the chosen photographs give us a documentation of the threatening and disorderly aspects of the natural environment, Lee creates expressive and sublime images through the use of brushwork.

The conversation between Lee and Carr discusses their innovative experimentation of their respective time periods.  While Lee physically and figuratively blurs the boundaries between photography and painting, Carr presents her British Columbia landscapes in the format of a portrait rather than a traditional horizontal landscape composition.  Subsequently, both artists prompt us to reconsider artistic boundaries, a concept that remains radical to this day.

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Evan Lee is represented by Art Toronto exhibiting gallery Clark & Faria in Toronto and Monte Clark Gallery in Vancouver.  We are very much looking forward to seeing his work on display this year at Art Toronto!

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