Multimedia artist Justin Broadbent and The Prisoner Wine Company create an art series dedicated to Toronto artists who defy the norm
Plus, take a look at Broadbent’s showcase at Five Brock, in partnership with The Prisoner Wine Company
Justin Broadbent knows that the phrase “multidisciplinary artist” gets thrown around a lot these days. But in his case? It really is the best possible way to describe his work.
“I like jumping around,” says Toronto-based Broadbent, whose work ranges from photography to small-scale illustrations and massive murals—the latter being found in spaces as diverse as the Google and Facebook offices and as trendy as Gladstone House. “I like trying things. I kind of like getting my style peppered throughout everything I do.” His approach to his success has been the opposite of deliberate or strategic. “I didn’t set out to be like, ‘I want to do all these different things’ It’s just sort of staying relevant, staying fresh, having a good eye, really,” says the St. Catharine’s-born, Toronto Metropolitan University grad. “I don’t think I ever gravitated to one thing, and I think that was what allowed me to explore more.” Music videos, branding, logos—he’s done all of those, too.
That philosophy is what attracted him to The Prisoner Wine Company—a luxury wine brand grounded in the notion that fearless, convention-defying thinking is a one-way route to big and bold ideas. It’s a belief that resonates strongly with Broadbent. “It’s a perspective for me,” he says. “It’s making sure that every time I’m working, I’m trying not to let myself fall into a pattern. I feel that when you’re defying convention, part of that is defying your own comfort.”
He got to put that belief to the test when The Prisoner Wine Company commissioned him to make a series of multimedia art pieces for an exclusive showcase. Inspired by Canadian artists who embody the brand’s convention-defying approach, the portraits featured painter Madeleine Gross, fellow muralist Sandeep Johal, musician Aaron Paris, multi-disciplinary creative Adeyemi Adegbesan and artist and designer Tabban Soleimani.
The works were exhibited together in a one-night only event on Nov. 16, held at chic Parkdale gallery space Five Brock. (Drinks, naturally, were provided courtesy of The Prisoner Wine Company.)
Tying each piece together are symbolic threads that speak to that idea of ‘defying convention,’ which unites this exhibition with both The Prisoner’s approach and Broadbent’s creative fuel.
“For me, it involves stopping before I want to stop, or just allowing myself to try something that’s maybe a little bit outside of my comfort zone,” says Broadbent, who says that his artistic signature is less an aesthetic than ‘a feeling’ that identifies something as ‘Justin-y,’ which translates to being unexpected, out of the box—or convention-defying.
Being trusted to do something ‘outlandish’ or ‘unconventional’ is Broadbent’s favourite way of working. It’s also part of his advice for aspiring artists, whom he encourages to trust their own internal creative compass.
“Just allow yourself to be free,” he says. “Allow your mind to go places, and explore.”
The Prisoner Wine Company’s signature Red Blend can be found at the LCBO.
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