Sunday, October 21, 2012

Gallery hopping in Toronto

Toronto is not known for it's art scene. A big city nonetheless will still draw in a range of artists. I was lucky enough to be in Toronto while some of my favourites were showing.

At the start of this year Maya Hayuk was in Melbourne with Kyle Ranson for Sugar Mountain festival. I've been a fan of Maya's work for a few years now, so of course I jumped at the chance to participate in a drawing workshop with these two artists. Fast track to late September when I arrived in Toronto and I was excited to stumble across her solo show at Cooper Cole Gallery, 1161 Dundas St West. (Click on the link for images of the work in the show). 

The next artist I was excited to see showing in Toronto was Stefan Thompson at Robert Kananaj Gallery, 1267 Bloor Street West. Stefan is an artist from Ottawa whose work I've followed for about 4 or 5 years. This show was a group show entitled Nested Heartbeat, although a very large part of it was Stefan's work. The gallerist was kind enough to let me take a bunch of photos.

The show is on until November 3 and definitely worth checking out as the photos don't do it justice. I could have stayed for hours taking in all the layering and detail of this work and the installations.

The last show I saw before leaving Canada was Frida and Diego at the AGO Toronto. No photos of this one (although you were allowed to take your camera in, but not use it...)

This show was amazing. Frida Kahlo is, in my opinion one of the most inspiring female artists of all time. Struggling to deal with massive and life long injuries from a bus accident when she was still in her late teens, her pain, suffering and immobility led her to paint. Most of her works were self portraits in which she explored and expressed her feelings about her broken body as well as her relationship with Diego Rivera.

I first saw Diego's work in the flesh at the National Palace in Mexico City about ten years ago at which time I knew very little about the couple. Their story is quite amazing, I have just launched into Frida's biography by Hayden Herrera, but of course there is always the condensed version in Hollywood format if that's more your thing (Frida, released in 2002).

Here are some of my favourites from the show.

This piece by Diego was actually in the form of a pencil sketch in the show. I love the stylised horse, slightly out of proportion and standing not quite like a horse would.
 I think my favourite of Frida's self portraits. The colours in this one were perfectly complimentary and I love the stillness of her face while there is so much movement in the lines above and below.

Frida's body cast from one of her many operations to help mend her spine was for me, the second most moving piece in the show (at the end they had photos of Frida on her death bed, I may have shed a tear or two...) This body cast was displayed in a perspex case and I felt it really brought to the show so much of her energy - a combination of heavy determination and colourful vibrancy. 

 This is a good representation of this piece, the colours really struck me. I love the contrast between the subject's golden-white hair and her smooth caramel skin.

 There were also lots of photos of Frida and Diego by some great photographers of the time such as Tina Modotti and this one above by Nickolas Muray.

I'm not sure who the photographer is, but this was my favourite photograph from the show and this image doesn't really do it justice. Amazingly soft light juxtaposed against Frida's strong gaze and pose.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Art de la Roo in Toronto

For the last month I have been hanging out in Toronto. Why? In a nutshell, because Toronto is in need of street art love, but let me elaborate...

At the beginning of this year my good friend, pasting buddy and fellow art geek Christy moved from Melbourne back to Toronto, Canada. She immediately noticed the lack of street art, especially paste ups. On explaining this sad situation to me, Christy put forth the idea of curating some sort of street art show in Toronto - something to give them a taste of the scene back in Australia. From this, Art de la Roo was born.

On the streets of Toronto Christy and I curated 25 paste ups by Australian street artists. We celebrated this great new collection of public art with a bicycle tour of the works and a launch party at Bike Pirates that went into the wee small hours.

Some photos of the works and the launch night are below but for more info and many more images check out our website and our Facebook page.