Views of Art Toronto 2021

A Small Sampling of Interesting Things

Seeing work in person lets you discover all the subtle material qualities of an artist’s process that is otherwise easily lost in reproduction. It’s great to have the opportunity to get up close to so much interesting art all in one place! On the outer wall of Daniel Faria Gallery hangs a large tapestry by Shannon Bool. Bool has reproduced one of her small photo collages as a large woven Jacquard tapestry. On close inspection, you’ll find fine hand embroidered details that harken back to the way the original smaller works are stitched together.

Shannon Bool, The Borderline, 2021, tapestry with silk and hand embroidery, 102” x 67”, Daniel Faria Gallery, Toronto

Miriam Shiell Fine Art have on display a painting by Graham Gillmore. Gillmore uses power tools to router words into the surface before applying layers of paint. The drips and washes create beautiful, complex textures. The piece is from 2005 but the bright wet glossiness of the surface makes it appear as though it could have been finished less than an hour ago.

Graham Gillmore, Back to the Motherload, 2005, oil and enamel on panel, 72” x 60”, Miriam Shiell Fine Art, Toronto

The show has an area dedicated to artist books and multiples. Gallery 44 presented books created by their artist members as well as show catalogues.

Gallery 44 – Centre for Contemporary Photography’ table at Art Toronto, 2021

The Sandra Ainsley Gallery specializes in glass art. Near the front of the booth is a cube of glass by Wilfried Grootens that seems to contain an organic spherical object. The piece is made up of flat images on layers of glass that have been fused together. When you look from the side, the object within seems to vanish.

Anemone By Wilfried Grootens, 8.5” x 8” x 8”, Sandra Ainsley Gallery, Toronto

At the RBC booth (RBC is a sponsor of the fair) there are four photographs by Nadia Belerique (represented by Daniel Faria Gallery).  At first glance they are compositions of mostly recognizable objects, but it gets more confusing on closer inspection. How are these things physically composed and arranged? You will have to look closely to figure it out!

Nadia Belerique, Buoys 1, 3, 7, & 10, 2016, Inkjet photograph mounted on dibond and plexiglas, 65cm x 43.2cm, RBC booth

The Nikola Rukaj Gallery has two works by McKay Otto. These are subtle pale paintings built up from translucent layers of paint. The effect is one of shallow depth. Are they flat or are they actually three dimensional behind a milky surface? 

McKay Otto, Ever Flicker into Harmony Ever, 2019, acrylic and mixed media on wood, 35” x 35”, Nikola Rukaj Gallery, Toronto

Galerie Mur have two concrete sculptures by artist David Umemoto. They are complex miniature architecture made from cast concrete.  They allude to buildings but remain abstract and enigmatic. They make you move around and look at them from all sides.

David Umemoto, Cubic Geometry Twelve: 5 Oxidized, 2019, Concrete, 30cm x 30cm x 30cm, Galerie Mur, Montreal

Zhuang Hong Yi’s sculptural painting Flowerbed 140 at Galerie Le Royer creates an intriguing visual effect as you move around. The surface is made up of coils and tubes that are covered in subtle washes of paint. Light and colour shift with each slight change of viewing angle. 

Zhuang Hong Yi, Flowerbed 140, Ink, acrylic and rice paper on canvas, 47.25” x 71”, Galerie Le Royer, Montreal

Text and photo: Mikael Sandblom

Walking around in Art Toronto

This year’s fair was a more spaced-out affair, affected of course by COVID guidelines. There was an amazing range of art of all media, shape and size. As a first-time visitor, it was almost overwhelming attempting to take it all in, but each gallery had amazing works and it was well worth taking the time to see it all. The fair had lots of artworks by contemporary Indigenous artists from many nations across North America.

Shawn Hunt, Whispers from the Spirit World, 2020 at Equinox Gallery

Tim Pitsiulak, 186-0638, 2015 at Patel Brown Gallery 

I spoke to gallerist, Federico Rosario, from K Art Gallery, Buffalo, who were at Art Toronto for the first time. The native-owned gallery champions work by indigenous artists, such as Luzene Hill’s, whose effortless sketches take inspiration from cave drawings. Evoking ideas of femininity and anatomy, but also nature and landscape, Hill’s style stems from a reflexive, instinctive practice that relinquishes control to the subconscious. 

Installation view, Luzene Hill at K Art Gallery

Edgar Heap of Birds, a Cheyenne/Arapaho artist collaborating with K Art Gallery, spoke about his practice. The gallery included a scaled-down version of one of his pieces, as well various signs which he has exhibited at numerous university campuses. His work highlights the importance of indigenous identity and sovereignty within colonial contexts. He also spoke about the difficulties young artists face in the beginnings of their careers, and his own decision to represent himself as an artist. 

Installation view, Edgar Heap of Birds at K Art Gallery

Marion Scott Gallery had works by Inuit artists, both traditional and contemporary, including prints, painting, and sculpture. 

Installation views at Marion Scott Gallery 

In many galleries, pastel tones reigned supreme this year. Swirling pale shades, pastel landscapes and mesmerizing abstract compositions were present at various galleries. 

Rosi Maria di Meglio, Casa d’Ischia, 2019 at Corkin Gallery 

Francois Lacasse, Spectres II, 2020 at Blouin Division

Kym Greeley, I Would Do Anything, 2021 at Christina Parker Gallery. 

Text and photo: Bronwen Cox

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