The Toronto Show at Gallery 1313

Gallery 1313’s The Toronto Show, is a captivating journey through the city as seen by twenty-six artists. Each has their own unique viewpoint on iconic landmarks, street corners, and diverse scenery, and paints a vivid and varied picture of Toronto that is genuinely remarkable. The range of these perspectives offer new views of the city, that will intrigue and engage any art enthusiast or curious visitor.

Alex Salzmann, Hotdogs in the Concrete Jungle, acrylic, 16 x 16 inches

Jarrod Bai’s “Chinatown” and “Neverland” are a testament to the emotional depth of Toronto’s cityscapes. With their rich, deep brushstrokes and warm, muted palettes, Bai’s work not only capture the iconic scenery of Toronto’s streetcar neighbourhoods but also infuses them with solitary, dreamlike reflections, and the melancholy glow of twilight.

Jarrod Bai, Chinatown, oil on canvas, 36 x 12 inches

This deep emotional connection to the city invites the viewer to feel the thrumming pulse of Toronto’s streets, displaying a sense of connection and love.

Jarrod Bai, Neverland, oil on canvas, 60 x 24 inches

Anshul Sharma’s “Why Wellesley,” takes us on a journey into the city’s underground, portraying the eerie stillness of Toronto’s subway system. This captivating artwork mesmerizes with its smooth, subtly textured surface. It provides the perfect backdrop for the striking contrast between the stark white and vibrant teal tiles on the subway platform.

Anshul Sharma, Why Wellesley, oil on Masonite, 24 x 11 inches

The station’s emptiness stands out as the most compelling element in this piece. Sharma adeptly captures the essence of liminal space—a transitional area devoid of its usual commotion and activity. Much like Bai’s “Chinatown,” the absence of human figures creates an unsettling calm that encourages the viewer to contemplate the reasons for the vacant platform.

While a bustling metropolis, Toronto is surprisingly resplendent with pockets of nature woven into the urban fabric. Elnaz Hessami Pilehrood’s “No Frills Parking Lot” greets viewers with a thought-provoking scene: a supermarket parking lot framed by a backdrop of lush trees. Blunt asphalt and rows of parked cars represent the utilitarian side of Toronto’s urban environment. Yet, these elements are challenged by the vast expanse of vibrant greenery on the horizon.

Elnaz Hessani Pilehrood, No Frills Parking Lot, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 40 inches

The artist’s choice of a supermarket parking lot is a fascinating one. One wonders if the natural landscape in the background symbolizes hope, a reminder of the natural world persisting within the urban sprawl. Or perhaps it is a subtle critique highlighting the encroachment of development on natural spaces. This piece will surely spark a deeper look at the dichotomy of Toronto’s urban-nature.

Collage works by Jesse Miletin “Humber Cinema” and “Crane on the Rooftop” depict two buildings, familiar to the West End, both buildings appear as in the past but feature elements of present-day development, such as the construction backing in one and the crane on the roof of the other. The two compositions seem to ask the viewer to compare them and consider what is on the horizon. Using photographic fragments, these collages capture the juxtaposition of urban development, decay, and the persistent spirit of the natural world. They prompt the viewer to reflect and contemplate on this delicate balance.

Jesse Miletin, Humber Cinema, collage using archival pigment prints, 13 x 17 inches

Jesse Miletin, Crane on the Rooftop, collage using archival pigment prints, 24 x 39 inches

Through depicting elements of deconstructed but recognizable buildings, such as Bloor West Village’s long-gone Humber Theatre, artifacts of urban development and the recurring motif of the lone tree, whose branches stretch defiantly in the scene, Miletin urges the viewer to consider the future of Toronto’s ever-evolving landscape.

Interlacing the diverse characteristics of the cityscape, “Journey in the City” by Sandra Franke boldly captures diverse perspectives of urban life. As a standout piece in The Toronto Show, this vivid painting immerses viewers in a dynamic exploration of the city. The bold use of blues, oranges, yellows, greens, and whites exudes the pulsating energy of urban environments. With its abstract nature, the piece demands various interpretations, possibly mirroring the multifaceted experiences of navigating bustling city streets.

Sandra Franke, Journey in the City, acrylic on canvas, 20 x 20 inches

More than an arrangement of diverse perspectives, The Toronto Show at Gallery 1313 is a vibrant conversation held in a cityscape. The artwork of these twenty-six artists present a delightful surprise, capturing the tranquility of Toronto’s hidden natural spaces as well as the frenetic movement of its bustling core. Moving from one piece to the next is like traversing the city itself. Each embodies a unique form and viewpoint, reflecting the diversity that permeates the city’s environment and culture.

Panorama of The Toronto Show

Text and photo: B. James McCarthy

*Exhibition information: The Toronto Show / a group exhibition, curated by Phil Anderson, June 19 – 30, 2024, Gallery 1313, 1313 Queen St. West, Toronto. Gallery hours: Wed – Sat 1 – 5 pm, Sun 1 – 4 pm.

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