Textile-Based Painting a Highlight of Art Toronto

Canadian Art
Oct 28, 2013 4:58PM

This post is by Britt Gallpen, Canadian Art‘s web intern and a master’s student in art history and curatorial studies at York University. 

As a relative newcomer to Toronto, and as first-time visitor to its modern and contemporary art fair, I often feel as though I’m still getting my bearings. And as someone interested in art history and curatorial work, this weekend didn’t necessarily provide much in the way of concrete lineages or movements in current Canadian practice. But it did highlight the strength of painting across the country.

For me, the most interesting examples of the renewed strength in Canadian painting were executed in dialogue with a particularly material, textile-based sensibility. Luce Meunier’s Trace #6 at the booth of Galerie Antoine Ertaskrian is a captivating study of shadow and light in black monochrome. After being saturated with pigment, the work was ironed into folds that were subsequently preserved with rabbit glue. Vancouver-based artist Angela Teng, whose work was brought by Wil Aballe Art Projects, has an intricate woven painting on the booth wall (literally woven acrylic on aluminum), but I was more interested in a work tucked away in those clever and practical wooden shipping crates. Lick Lip (2013) is a sumptuous blackberry gradient painted on a crocheted ground. The tension between painted surface and support is evident in those sunken pockets where thirsty fibres have pulled the pigment inwards.

Additional works that come to mind in the textile-and-painting vein are AGO pick This and That by Anthony Burnham at Galerie René Blouin‘s booth, which conjures stretched and draped cloth; Colleen Heslin’s Almost young and wild and free created from dyed and painted stitched cotton panels, viewable at the display of the RBC Canadian Painting Competition, which she won this year; and RBC runner-up Neil Harrison’s geometric linen canvases also on view at Beers Contemporary‘s booth.

Outside of this thematic thrust around textiles, emerging artist Paul Hardy’s canvas at Parisian Laundry was exceptionally strong and at an excellent price point for new collectors, I thought.

By far the strongest booths were by those younger galleries that demonstrated restraint and a strong editing impulse when organizing their spaces. Standouts included NEXT section participant DC3’s solo presentation of Mitch MitchellErin Stump’s streamlined selection, and Daniel Faria Gallery‘s presentation.

Many Quebec dealers also put forward aesthetically captivating booths, including Galerie Antoine Ertaskiran and Parisian Laundry. And for overall impact, Feheley Fine Arts‘ salon hang of contemporary Inuit work took the cake; you can be assured I will be closely watching Saimaiyu Akesuk’s inevitable rise in the coming years.

It was regrettable that Art Toronto didn’t set aside more space for individual artist projects, and while I appreciated Thom Sokoloski’s All The Artists Are Here, I thought it lost definition and presence in its placement at the top of the elevators and against a wall of windows. Strategic interventions of solo projects within the main body of exhibition booths would have helped to break up the grid-like and possibly monotonous pace of the fair.

Lastly, a major highlight for me was something I’m sure occurred quite accidentally—a mashup of James Nizam’s Drill Holes Through Studio Wall on the external wall of the Gallery Jones booth hung beside Robert Polidori’s Security camera and boiserie detail, Grand cabinet de Madame Victoire, (54) CCE.01.052, Corps Central – R.d.C., Versailles (R.P.Vers.EHG01) at Galerie de Bellefeuille‘s display. The latter, a mouthful of a title, features an intricate, chalky interior wall of Versailles interrupted by an imposing, if slightly out of date, security camera. The juxtaposition of light and dark between the two, coupled by their similar scale, made for the most wonderful example of fair happenstance.

Britt Gallpen, the author of this post, is Canadian Art‘s web intern and a master’s student in art history and curatorial studies at York University. For more of our daily Art Toronto fair coverage, please visit canadianart.ca/arttoronto, and join us at Booth 940 to pick up our special Art Toronto edition.

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Canadian Art