Floating French buildings, a self-playing piano and eight other must-see works at Art Toronto
Art Toronto is the reigning heavyweight of the city’s visual arts scene—it regularly sells more than $15 million worth of art in just four days. This weekend, starting on October 23, the fair will pack 100 micro-galleries and thousands of works from around the world into the sprawling showroom of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Here, 10 unmissable sights from the event.
Mesmerizing photos of floating French buildings
French photographer Laurent Chéhère takes pictures of boring urban buildings and suspends them in mid-air. His realistic photo manipulations give the structures a newfound beauty and a surreal sense of humour. Find his work at Muriel Guepin Gallery’s booth.
Eerily lifelike human sculptures
Evan Penny’s hyper-realistic busts make all those marble statues of composers and emperors look like the work of amateurs: he accessorizes his clay-and-silicone figures with resin eyes and implanted human hair. Aside from their funhouse proportions and unsettling stillness, they could easily be mistaken for living, breathing people. His work is on display at the TrépanierBaer Gallery booth.
A piano that works like a tin-can telephone
In his site-specific installation A Piano Listening to Itself, the Canadian sound artist Gordon Monahan connects a tilted piano to a mini-mishmash of coils, motors and amplifiers one storey above. Through some sonic wizardry, he sends musical vibrations into the instrument, which, acting as a natural amplification cabinet, emits a ghostly facsimile of Chopin.
A series of kaleidoscopic cityscapes
The Colombian artist Roberto Lombana manipulates aerial photographs of real-world locations—London, Bogotá, the Amazon—so they resemble tiny self-contained planets and fractal-like mandalas. His dizzying oeuvre, which also includes optical-illusion architecture and fish-eye photography, is available at Galería Baobab’s booth.
A massive monochromatic mural
Jim Holyoak’s work is not just on display at the Galeria Donald Browne booth: it is the booth. Over the course of Art Toronto, the Montreal-based artist is covering the 21-foot-long wall of the gallery’s space with a black-and-white ink painting called Entangled. It will be a dark and atmospheric fantasy land, thick with ornate overgrowth and fantastical beings, and you can watch it unfold in real time.
Bicycle-seat bison heads
Fresh from the opening of his colossal buffalo-jump installation at the Gardiner Museum, Kent Monkman hits Art Toronto’s Pierre-François Ouellette Art Contemporain booth armed with new works like Bull in a China Shop: a bison head and horns created from a bicycle seat and handlebars, adorned in the traditional white and blue hues of china dinnerware. It shows a detailed scene of Monkman’s alter ego, Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, on a rearing horse.
A collection of Wi-Fi-equipped Easter Island heads
8eleven, the Toronto artist collective behind that strange self-titled storefront on Spadina, returns with The WiFi is the Body. The installation is a series of sculptures that resemble the mysterious heads of Easter Island and double as Wi-Fi hotspots. The idea originated at last year’s fair, where people complained about shoddy connectivity—but the project isn’t just about helping them Instagram their favourite works. It’s designed to get attendees thinking about escapism and ignorance.
Portraits by Winnipeg’s most controversial artist
KC Adams did some serious pot stirring in Winnipeg last year when she plastered her Perception series across the city: her side-by-side head shots contrasted Aboriginal stereotypes (one read “squaw”) with reality (“a wife, mother, twin, artist, educator”). Here, Gurevich Fine Art booth shows one of her earlier photography series, Cyborg Hybrids, which depicts mixed-race artists in portraits that subvert historical representations of Indigenous Canadians.
A suburban nostalgia trip
The Cleansing, by the Montreal artist Tammy Salzl, is a portal to a past world. Visitors enter the immersive installation through a cartoonish red curtain and encounter the sounds of childhood (kids laughing, balls bouncing, cars whizzing by), a series of quaint childhood vignettes and a beautifully constructed dollhouse. It’s tranquil to the point of unease.
A young Canadian expat’s funny food art
Montreal-bred, New York–based pop artist Chloe Wise obliterates the line between low and high art with her comical creations: sculptures of breakfast foods, self-portraits of herself painting self portraits and knock-off designer handbags made from bagels and bread. She shares her ironic wit and appetizing artwork at the Galerie Division booth.