Toronto International Art Fair
Metro Toronto Convention Centre
October 24 – 27, 2014
On this Media Preview day October 23 the Toronto International Fair was full of busy last minute touches for preparations for the evening gala and benefit for the AGO. Other media were present – journalist Betty Ann Jordan , Kevin Sweet of CBC Radio Canada and others previewing and getting stories about the fair. The place was pretty empty accept for a few frantic workers and artists. Linel Rebenchuk, Vice President of Informa Canada himself was also checking last minute preparations. This would be the last Fair for Mr. Rebenchuk, the founder of Art Toronto, since he will be stepping down from his position as Vice President and Executive Director of Art Toronto (the Toronto International Art Fair), effective December 31, 2014.
Turning 15 and with over 100 participating galleries the fair is receiving some competition from the Feature Contemporary Art Fair at the Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Opera Centre but they are somewhat different in the way they operate. Montreal organizers the AGAC of the Feature Contemporary curate their exhibition only accepting a few galleries (23 ) and each gallery can only present 3 artists. It might be slightly less commercial but I believe dealers at both fairs are looking at sales and some galleries are choosing to be in both such as Stephen Bulger Gallery, while others were not accepted by Feature and were accepted by TIAF. It seems like a good thing that Toronto can support more art fairs. Earlier this year the LOVE Art Fair also attracted art buyers and it looks like the Toronto art market is on the rise. The most weathered of them, TIAF, has been around for 15 years and has survived some recessionary times. Time will be the test.
The TIAF, as well as having international, national and local galleries also has supported contemporary art works ironically titled Feature Exhibition and Feature Projects (5). BGL’s Canada de Fantaisie/Canada Fancy is a carousel using metal security fences hung from a large post. It inspires playful participation while giving thought to the use of security fences by the BLG Collective. The choice to have them represent Canada at the 2015 Biennale seems like a good one.
Closer to the entrance of the fair Jennifer Marman’s and Daniel Borins’ massive work Pavilion of the Blind stands with its sensors triggering programmed blinds. Marman and Borin have used their colour palette from previous works in this creation. The work also references HG Wells short story, The Country of the Blind.
The VSVSVS art group have an installation NAP STATION which is yet another Feature Project. Visitors can climb a staircase and enter one of three cubicles where they can rest. With such a large amount of work at the fair to see some tired visitors may indeed find this comforting. A clever and practical installation.
Amalie Atkins installation, Three Minute Miracle, reproduces a prairie experience with tent and film projection. There art two other installations or Feature Projects, Xiaojing Yan’s Cloud Cell and Greg Curnoe triptych painting Three Pieces (1965) by the Michael Gibson Gallery.
I checked out the not for profit galleries Open Studio, Red Head and Propellor Gallery booths and then headed over to the Next section of emerging galleries that display more challenging works. I chatted with the front man for the Dopamine Collective, Sean Stewart from Owen Sound. He was tweaking the booth. Further along an Edmonton Gallery with a roster of artists from around the country, was getting a video work going. Director David Candler highlighted some of the works in their booth at dc3 Art Projects of Edmonton.
Mia Nielsen, curator for the Drake Hotel was telling me about their collection of 120 works at the boutique hotel, the Devonshire in Prince Edward County. The Drake had a booth of artists work at this years fair.
Artsy were there from NY with two local persons one an artist and the other an Artsy rep. Artsy is a digital resource art centre that displays many art fairs and also showcases artists such as the once at this years fair with his exposure prints.
Artist Thrush Holmes spent his summers building frames for housing projects and replicated this with a display of his work in the midst of house frame assembled just for the fair including his art works and even a potty.
The Nicholas Metivier Gallery had a impressive display of works by John Scott , Shelley Adler, Ed Burtinsky and others. Claudia Deutsch of Los Angeles Gallery, Art Space Ware House had a successful time at the Love Art Fair and decided to come back to Toronto with artists work that was in demand. She was encouraged by what she saw as a healthy Toronto art market. Maria Graham of Halifax’s Studio 21 Fine Art was happy to be back at TIAF as well. Pierre–Francois Oullette of Pierre–Francois Ouellette Art Contemporain said it was his 13th year at TIAF and was looking forward to the crowds of art going public.
I was fortunate in my visit to TIAF though limited I had access without the crowds. TIAF has been stood the test of time and has again proved itself to be the premier art fair in Canada paving the way for others to follow.
Text and photo: Phil Anderson