Art Toronto 2010 Review: Part 2

I think the word I should have used in the title instead of “review” was “commentary”, because that probably offers a better description of what I’m doing here. I’m recording my own, highly subjective and biased reactions to what I saw over the weekend.

This was the first time that I was able to attend the show twice. I think that made a big difference. If you are wondering how I pulled that off, how an artist can afford to go to a show like this twice, let me explain the story:

A friend of mine won a free pair of tickets.
Being a poor starving artist, nothing perks my interest like the word “free”.
I must get my own free pair of tickets…but how?
Luckily, I came across the guys at Dapper & Debonair, who were holding an Art Toronto ticket give-away contest. “Tell us why you should win tickets, and the person with the best reason will win free tickets”.
I gave them my reason, and somehow, I was lucky enough to be selected as the winner! So I had a pair of tickets.
Then, my friend’s plans fell through at the last minute, so she invited me to go along with her on Friday. That meant that I still had my tickets, so I could go again on Saturday!

This was an awesome turn of events, since a big project that I am secretly working on in the background (that I’m not allowed to tell you about yet) isn’t going nearly as well as I would like, so having something go right was a nice and much-needed boost to my morale.

I really hate to miss anything, especially at shows like this one, so over the years, I have developed a method of ensuring that I see it all. Every year, I enter the convention hall, I start at the East end, and walk from gallery to gallery, slowly heading towards the West side of the room.
I don’t miss stuff, but this mechanical way of going though the space is hardly enjoyable. I can never bring myself to just wander aimlessly, heading towards whatever catches my attention, because I just know that a lot of art will slip by me without being seen. This year, because I knew I would be there a second day, I wasn’t so worried about any of that. That lead to me enjoying the show much more than usual.

I normally start at the East end and work my way West because the older, well-established, and boring stuff is usually all on the East end, while the exciting new stuff is on the opposite end of the room. This gives me something to look forward to. If I head right to the cool exciting stuff first, that more traditional stuff won’t even have a chance of exciting me. This year, the layout seemed totally different, everything was scattered around randomly, and I really enjoyed that. I never knew what would be around the next corner.

I really felt like the calibre of work being shown this year was much higher than in the past. I was really impressed with a lot of what I saw. There was a lot of work that didn’t excite my personal taste, but I don’t remember seeing anything that I thought was really bad.

Alex McLeod is getting a lot of positive attention from this show, and he deserves it. His prints hanging in MOCCA were good, but if you want to see a really great pieces of his, head to Angell Gallery’s booth and check out the giant lightbox. I look forward to seeing more of these in the future. The back lighting adds a whole new dimension to Alex’s work.

Sometimes, I love a piece of art at first, but that affection fades after repeated viewings. That was not the case with Scott Everingham; his work looked even better on the second day.

One artist that I was immediately drawn to was Andres Basurto, who’s thick oil paintings have provided me with some new ideas of where I should take my own work. He loads a bag with paint, and squeezes the paint onto the board, very much like what I do in my own paintings, but Basurto applies multiple layers of paint in alternating colours, making these textured areas look almost like pieces of ribbon.

Kohei Matsushita’s works “Carbonization” and “Various Black” really impressed me. Various black is just that – various shades of black. 400 small blocks of various woods have been turned into different kinds of charcoal. These blocks of charcoal are arranged in a 20 X 20 grid, surrounding by a large black frame. The textures of the wood and the almost graphite like quality of some of the blocks are very visually appealing. Elegant simplicity at it’s finest.

William Betts had a very beautiful and innovative technique of using a CNC machine to drill thousands of tiny dots into the back of a mirror, and filling in those holes with paint. The image looks sort of like a half-tone photograph, but much prettier. I was so impressed by these pieces that I wanted to try the technique out myself, until I learned that the process has been patented by the artist.

I liked Magalie Comeau’s very minimal interiors. A small image of a building’s interior floats on the empty canvas. So simple, it almost reads like geometric abstraction on a first glance.

And, I will end this commentary with a bit of a pointless rant. Right by the main entrance and exit for the convention hall, an insurance company set up a booth, advertising their fine art insurance. On the wall, in giant letters, they tell the story of a deChirico painting that was destroyed by a freak construction accident. The story ends by stating, “This begs the question-is your art insured”.
Excuse me?
This story begs the question?
Begs?

It raises the question. It asks the question. But begging the question?
Does the story really present me with a logical fallacy where the argument’s conclusion is assumed in it’s premise?
Really?
Normally, I don’t like to harp on language mistakes, because I make several people’s share of them myself, but these little details and subtleties of language are important, especially with things like contracts and insurance forms.

One think that makes me very happy is the downloadable show catalogue that has been made available on the website. If I have a spare $25 in my pocket, it’s going towards paint, not show catalogues. I already have more books than I have room for, and I still have two book shelves full at my parent’s place. A hard drive is a much more efficient storage medium for these things, and I would like to thank whoever made the decision to put the digital copies out there.

Overall, I think Art Toronto 2010 was the best Art Toronto yet, and one of the better TIAF’s, too.

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Kyle Clements

Kyle Clements is a Toronto-based artist and nerd. During his thesis at the Ontario College of Art and Design, Kyle began working on his Urban Landscapes series, a body of work that aims to capture the energy and excitement of life in the fast-paced urban environment. After graduating from OCAD in 2006, Kyle spent a year living in Asia to gather source material and experience in a different kind or urban environment. His work is vibrant and colourful. Whether painting the harsh Northern landscape, or capturing the overwhelming buzz of life in the city, his acrylic paintings hover between representation and abstraction.

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