Ten exciting artists to check out at Art Toronto 2017
Art Toronto—a sprawling, weekend-long cornucopia of creativity—can be a little overwhelming. Here, a guide to 10 shows you won’t want to miss
The weird side of L.A.
Art Toronto’s centrepiece is And the Sky is Grey, a group show that depicts the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles. Through photography, painting, sculpture and other media, 10 L.A. artists—including Chris Coy, whose Mona Lisa Overdrive is shown above—depict the grit, scandal and general weirdness of the City of Angels. Show curator Santi Vernetti is also tapping a number of Californian artists to build a sculpture garden lounge and art bar in the middle of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Focus: Los Angeles.
A gallery in a shipping container
Galleries are often white, featureless spaces that draw attention to the art, not the wall it hangs on. The Bunker 2 Contemporary Art Container, on the other hand, is an attraction in itself: it’s housed entirely within a repurposed shipping container. The team behind the gallery is setting up shop at Art Toronto, where they’ll showcase daily performances and projections that critique the financial side of the art world. Bunker 2.
A capitalistic take on Tamagotchi
British artist Ed Fornieles’s adorable cartoons are inspired by Tamagotchi, that twee late-’90s craze. Instead of relying on human caretakers, though, The Finiliars are each tied to a monetary currency—namely, the Canadian dollar, British pound and Ethereum coin. When their value goes up, the cheery characters might pop champagne; when they tank, they’re likelier to break down in tears. Division Gallery.
Wilfried Grooten’s captivating glass cubes
German-born artist Wilfried Grootens’s spellbinding cubes of glass seem to provide glimpses into the far reaches of the cosmos or the depths of the ocean, with forms that look like they could be sea creatures, coral reef and nebulas. He achieves the effect by painting ultra-fine strokes on dozens of layers of glass, assembling them in stacks, and then laminating, cutting and polishing the finished pieces. Sandra Ainsley Gallery.
Curious creatures from the mind of Shary Boyle
Shary Boyle might be Canada’s best-known contemporary artist, between creating fascinating ceramics and drawings, repping the country at the 2013 Venice Biennale and trekking across the country to make charming live overhead-projector art. At Art Toronto, she’ll show off a new selection of offbeat bijou sculptures, like this long-necked woman and a headless figure with four arms. Galerie 3.
Art in virtual reality
American video artists Kate Parsons and Ben Vance are on a mission to find and commission the world’s most mind-blowing VR art. At Art Toronto, they’ll show off some of their discoveries in the Float Museum, where attendees can don headsets and step into otherworldly realms filled with alien plant life and undulating orbs of colour. Float Museum.
Vibrant scenes from Northern Ontario
￼Last spring, Toronto artist Steve Driscoll pumped 7,500 litres of water into Dupont’s Angell Gallery, turning the space into a slice of Algonquin Park, complete with a 13-metre boardwalk and his massive nature paintings. Driscoll’s works at Art Toronto—styrene panels filled with trees and aurora borealis rendered in psychedelic hues—won’t be accompanied by a lake, but they were born on one: he based the pieces off an abandoned fishing village he portaged past near Sault Ste. Marie. Angel Gallery.
A multi-talented Indigenous artist
Haida-Québécois artist Raymond Boisjoly earned a spot on the shortlist for this year’s prestigious Aimia AGO Photography Prize with his impressively versatile body of work. He assembles probing word-and-picture projects about Canada’s colonial past, creates warped portraits of pop icons like D’Angelo and Buffy Sainte-Marie, and fashions Indigenous symbols out of awe-inspiring images of the cosmos. Catriona Jeffries.
A surreal series of faceless portraits
Argentinian Alejandro Pasquale paints portraits of mysterious creatures. Their faces are covered with plague doctor–like masks or replaced entirely by tangles of branches and leaves, and they exist in vintage worlds, filled with hyper-detailed flora and fauna. Pasquale’s Art Toronto works will provide a glimpse into his wild imagination, where masks are less about hiding an identity than assuming a new, liberated one. Quimera.
Art that finds the beauty in business parks
Toronto’s Peter Harris paints subtly striking canvasses of unromantic urban settings: apartment building foyers, empty gas stations, industrial parking lots. Humans are always absent from his realist nighttime scenes, but their presence is in the little signs of life, like lit-up shops and parked vehicles. Mira Godard.