Photo: Emese Krunák-Hajagos

October 27 – 30, 2017

We went to Toronto’s International Art Fair on Friday early afternoon, thinking that it wouldn’t be so crowded, so we would have more chance to talk to gallery owners and attendants, have more space to look at the exhibited pieces. Well, we were wrong, it was already crowded, buzzing with a positive energy.

The Fair looks very different from previous years, much better. It seems more organized, easier on the visitor to walk the floor without missing out too much. We decided to walk around the perimeter first, then walk in circles in the middle section – and it worked, sort of, because I kept walking in all directions when something caught my fancy, like superkül’s seating structure that responds to the mushroom column heads found in the Tower Automotive Building, MOCA’s new home. MOCA with superkül is sharing proposals for its future entry floor landscape and you can join in.

 Art Toronto installation view with MOCA’s and superkül’s seating structure. Photo: Emese Krunák-Hajagos

There are four major section in the fair: MAIN, having many galleries, SOLO with solo shows of galleries, some still having their own booth as well, VERGE in the middle from where you can walk to this year’s FOCUS Los Angeles, that we will cover in a separate article.

One of the first things you run into upon entering the Fair is the RBC Lounge where you walk through a tunnel covered by paintings followed by the RBC Painting Competition. Walking further on the right side we talked to Alex Leibner from Galerie D’Este. He said that the Montreal Gallery exhibited in Art Toronto many times and this time seems to be successful too.

RBC Lounge. Photo: Emese Krunák-Hajagos
Galerie D’Este. Photo: Emese Krunák-Hajagos

Last year’s focus was Latin America and many of those galleries decided to return to Toronto this year. The Marión Gallery from Panama has returned for the second time to Art Toronto. Valentina Lairet finds it more crowded this year with sales already from the start. RoFa Projects of Venezuela are back at Art Toronto after a very good first exhibition last year, said director Gabriela Rosso. RoFa, with a centre of Potomac, is an international gallery showing all over the world.

 Valentina Lairet from Marion Gallery, Panama. Photo: Emese Krunák-Hajagos
Gabriela Rosso from RoFa Projects in front of Walterio Iraheta’s work. Photo: Steve Rockwell

dc3 Art Projects from Edmonton, Alberta have been busy on the art fair scene, with exhibits at Art Basel, Volta and Moving Image, New York, and Montreal. This is their 5th year at Art Toronto. This year they are exhibiting print maker, Sean Caulfield works, including some large wood blocks themselves, as they appear in his Deadcut show here. Rebecca Travis from Birch Contemporary said that all is going well for them and visitors and collectors keep her very busy. Indeed the fair is extremely busy as Daniel Faria said, “I haven’t been able to leave my booth. It’s been great!”

 dc3 Art Projects from Edmonton with Sean Caulfield’s Deadcut. Photo: Emese Krunák-Hajagos
Rebecca Travis talks to visitors in Birch Contemporary’s booth. Photo: Emese Krunák-Hajagos
Daniel Faria of Daniel Faria Gallery. Photo: Steve Rockwell

The crowd is getting bigger and bigger by the hour. It is almost impossible to talk to gallery owners and representatives. I can’t remember any art fair in Toronto without Odon Wagner, owner of one of Toronto’s oldest and most successful gallery, focusing on both traditional and contemporary art. Meghan O’Callaghan, the assistant of the gallery said that they’ve already sold so many pieces and the fair just opened. We got the same information from Angells Gallery associate director, Bill Clarke, telling us that Bradley Wood, Steve Driscoll and Gavin Lynch were among the best sellers. Clint Roenisch and Christopher Cutts were also satisfied with their sales.

Photo: Emese Krunák-Hajagos
 Odon Wagner of Odon Wagner Gallery. Photo: Emese Krunák-Hajagos
Angell Gallery’s booth. Photo: Emese Krunák-Hajagos
Clint Roenisch of Clint Roenisch Gallery. Photo: Emese Krunák-Hajagos
Gary Michael Dault (left) and Christopher Cutts (right). Photo: Steve Rockwell

Dana Charles, Communications & Logistics Coordinator of the Oena Gallery, based in Prince Edward County, said, “We do almost 50% if our business online.” It is Oeno’s first time at Art Toronto. There are so many good galleries with high quality, interesting work at the Fair that it is hard to pick just a few.

 Oena Gallery. Photo: Emese Krunák-Hajagos
Division Gallery, Toronto. Photo: Emese Krunák-Hajagos
Todd Merrill Studio, New York. Photo: Emese Krunák-Hajagos
Kostuik Gallery, Vancouver. Photo: Emese Krunák-Hajagos

SOLO Section introduces the visitors to the latest work of a favoured artist from each gallery. Juno Youn, the former owner of Spin Gallery in Toronto, opened Galerie Youn in Montreal, showing Jay Dart at Art Toronto this year. Corkin Gallery is exhibiting Miles Gertler. Besides the solo shows there are many strong pieces that make you stop.

Juno Youn of Youn Gallery, Montreal. Photo: Steve Rockwell
Miles Gertler at Corkin Gallery, Toronto. Photo: Emese Krunák-Hajagos
Installation view with Dale Dunning Aureole. Photo: Emese Krunák-Hajagos
Valerie Blass, Le principe de la sueur transpiration, evaporation, chaleur at Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver. Photo: Emese Krunák-Hajagos

The rich events programming include Speaker Series, such Gary Michael Dault’s about Sorel Etrog at Barbara Edwards Gallery, the Sobey’s Award winner’s announcement and many more.

Speaker Series, Gary Michael Dault about Sorel Etrog at Barbara Edwards Gallery’s booth. Photo: Emese Krunák-Hajagos
Sobey’s Award announcement and interview with winner, Ursula Johnson at the Art Toronto Stage. Photo: Emese Krunák-Hajagos

“The fair is better,” said Antoine Ertaskiren of Montreal’s Galerie Antoine Ertaskiren. “It was a great opening last night. The Focus L.A. really works.” The fair is indeed better and almost impossible to see it in one day, so go back if you can.

It is hard to find a sitting spot. Photo: Emese Krunák-Hajagos

Steve Rockwell & Emese Krunák-Hajagos

Most likely due to the tight-knit arts community fostered in Toronto, the art industry in Canada often feels small. However the Art Toronto fair reminds me that the art created and displayed here is often at an international level. Not to mention, that the arts community here has a much larger reach beyond our city and country than I often remember. I was thoroughly impressed by the quality of work displayed by Toronto galleries at the fair — proving extremely relevant to the concerns of artists around the world. It is an excellent opportunity for works by Canadians to be purchased not only by fellow Canadian collectors, but also international ones too.

The fair is also remarkable for the international galleries that show there. For a weekend, the Metro Convention Centre turns into a one-stop-shop for hot works in the modern and contemporary art market. This is the second year I’ve attended the art fair, and it’s always a great opportunity to see a variety of art that often moves to and remains in private collections.

Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver

Division Gallery, Toronto

Black Project Gallery, Vancouver

Text and photo: Carolyn Peralta

*Exhibition Information: North Building, Exhibit Hall A & B, 255 Front Street West. Hours: Fri & Sat, 12 – 8 pm., Sun & Mon, 12 – 6 pm.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *