Art Market

8 Works to Collect by Canadian Artists at Art Toronto

Abigail Cain
Oct 23, 2016 1:00PM

The 17th edition of Art Toronto opens Thursday, welcoming 106 galleries from 14 countries to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. In addition to its international scope, the fair also boasts strong local representation, featuring an impressive crop of Canada’s homegrown talents. Below, we’ve bring you eight of the most collectable works by an impressive array of artists—from historical heavyweights to rising stars.

Jack Bush, Three on Purple (1971)

On View at Miriam Shiell Fine Art, 

Main, Booth A14

Three on Purple, 1971
Miriam Shiell Fine Art

Bush’s work, which received a long-overdue retrospective at the National Gallery of Canada in 2014-2015, delights with its intense colors and strong forms. Along with the other members of the influential Toronto artist group Painters Eleven, Bush worked to bring abstraction to the forefront of Canada’s art scene beginning in the 1950s. Three on Purple (1971) was painted during the height of his career, just a few years after Bush quit his job as a highly successful commercial illustrator to focus solely on fine art.

Pierre Dorion, MET B II (2016)

On View at Galerie René Blouin

Main, Booth C28


Although Dorion began his career in the 1990s with large-scale self-portraits, the Canadian artist soon shifted his attention to documenting spare, undecorated architectural spaces that become almost abstracted in their simplicity. These paintings, often made using photographs that the artist has taken himself in museums or galleries as a reference, have been described as a kind of “figurative Minimalism.” The anonymity of Dorion’s scenes—a shadowy staircase, a green plastic bench, a set of closed elevator doors—is exemplified by this recent painting of a nondescript window set in a white wall.

Jean Paul Riopelle, La Loire (1959)

On View at Miriam Shiell Fine Art

Main, Booth A14

La Loire, 1959
Miriam Shiell Fine Art

The only Canadian member of the influential École de Paris, Riopelle moved from his native Montreal to Paris in 1947. There, he met André Breton and became friendly with the Surrealists, although his style bore greater resemblance to Abstract Expressionism—in fact, his early expressionistic work drew direct comparisons to his contemporary, Jackson Pollock. Works like La Loire (1959) demonstrate Riopelle’s signature technique of applying thick strokes of paint directly onto the canvas with a palette knife rather than a brush.

Sojourner Truth Parsons, Why can’t you drive us home (2016)

On View at Tomorrow

Main, Booth C38

Why can’t you drive us home, 2016

It’s been a busy year for Parsons, with a spring solo show at New York’s (formerly Toronto’s) gallery Tomorrow and another at L.A.’s Night Gallery that closed earlier this month. Her fluorescent canvases are dotted with images of acrylic fingernails, butterflies, cigarettes, and—in the case of Why can’t you drive us home (2016)—a pair of pink poodles, tongues lolling. Perhaps some of this imagery springs from the Canadian artist’s current home of Los Angeles, where she moved from Toronto in 2015.

Jessica Eaton, Transition H45 (2016)

On View at galerie antoine ertaskiran

Main, Booth C50

Transition H45, 2016
galerie antoine ertaskiran

Each of Eaton’s brilliantly hued works is a complex photographic illusion—the geometric shapes she captures on film are, in reality, painted in shades of gray. But there’s no Photoshop involved. Instead, the Canadian artist uses a series of colored filters to cover her lens, exposing the same negative to light again and again until the different shades merge to create her signature eye-popping aesthetic. It’s a reminder, as Eaton notes, of “how incredibly limited our ability to perceive the world is.”

Wanda Koop, In Absentia (Pale Aqua - Scarlet Red), (2016)

On View at Division Gallery

Main, Booth C62

In Absentia (Pale Aqua - Scarlett Red), 2016
Division Gallery

One of Canada’s most respected contemporary artists, Koop has worked for four decades in an award-studded career that spans painting, photography, and video. Although she’s a lifelong resident of Winnipeg, it was the New York City skyline that inspired Koop’s most recent series of drawings and paintings. Titled “In Absentia,” these quiet abstractions were dreamed up during a four-month residency in the Lower East Side in 2015 and later completed in Canada.

Chloe Wise, You won't cry but bring tissues (2016)

On View at Division Gallery

Main, Booth C62

You won't cry but bring tissues, 2016
Division Gallery

Wise’s work often looks good enough to eat—and wear. The Canadian-born, New York-based artist made a name for herself in 2014 when one of her oil-painted plastic “Bread Bags” sculptures (in this case, a Chanel purse crafted out of a bagel) went viral across fashion websites. You won't cry but bring tissues (2016) furthers Wise’s engagement with food by sensuously depicting pasta with meatballs, cheese crackers, and chocolate all heaped together and oozing down the side of a white pedestal—appealing and revolting in turns. On the heels of FIAC, where her work was shown with Almine Rech, Wise will launch her debut monograph this week in Brooklyn.

Tony Scherman, Study for Banquo's Funeral: Witch #1 (1995)

On View at Caviar20

Main, Booth C85

Scherman’s use of encaustic—a labor-intensive technique that requires melted wax to be mixed with pigment on canvas—is a nod to centuries of art history, from the Byzantines and ancient Greeks to, more recently, American artist Jasper Johns. The Toronto-based painter makes works, often portraits, focused on historical subjects that range from Napoleon Bonaparte to Abraham Lincoln to Rosa Parks. Here, in his mid-’90s series “Banquo’s Funeral,” Scherman uses Macbeth’s doomed rival as a lens to examine Shakespeare’s seminal play.

Abigail Cain