Something for everyone at Art Toronto

Over the last weekend of October, while checking out the art scene in Toronto, we attended the 12th edition of Art Toronto. The art fair, is an excuse for galleries to flaunt their best new art, in a heady long weekend that brings together collectors, dealers, curators and a little bit of the art world’s glamor to Canada’s largest metropolis.

Poklong Anading, Anonymity, 2008-2012

One of the most exciting things to observe at Art Toronto (Toronto International Art Fair), apart from the intoxicatingly light-handed exchange of cash and art, is the pace of the mood. Art Toronto invested a lot of time and effort to make this year’s fair busier, bigger and buzzier than previous years to attract new collectors. In fact, over one hundred galleries participated, around 65% were Canadian, but I did see a visible contingent of exhibitors from art world hotspots like New York and London, as well as, a handful of galleries participating in Focus Asia.

Jacob Whibley, Paper Ephemera on Panel Series

On the whole, galleries opted for restrained curation and honestly crafted works over big statement pieces. Bombast is out, and art on a domestic, thoughtful scale is in. Gorgeous two dimensional works by emerging Canadian artists caught my eye, such as Jacob Whibley, from Paper Ephemera on panel series at Narwhal Art Project; Nicolas Ranellucci, Leova at Galerie Dominique Bouffard; Sarah CaleGerminate at Jessica Bradley; Simon Hughes, Self-Improvement Rooming House at Galerie Division; and Martin Golland, Traverse at Birch Libralato.

Simon Hughes, Self-Improvement Rooming House

Nicolas Ranellucci, Leova (2012), Acrylic on canvas

The shift away from artworks selling for astronomical amounts of money might reflect on the times. I saw only a handful of artworks priced for oligarchs, hedge-funders and Qatari magnates such as, Ken Matsubara’s Movie Objects (the talk of the fair) at MA2, I imagine were very expensive and Kent Monkman’s Miss America at Pierre Ouellete Art Contemporian, wasn’t priced for a novice collector either. I imagine these gallerists want to place these important artworks inside important art collections. The handful of blue chip artworks selling pricey artworks emphasizes this regional art fair’s international flair.

Sarah Cale, Germinate (2012), Acrylic on linen

Martin Golland, Traverse (2010) oil on canvas

Even though Art Toronto has made a huge effort to elevate its status to an international art fair a few gallerists quietly lamented that the the quality of the art exhibited has lessened. In previous years, these gallerists felt the fair was exclusive and they could effortlessly sell museum quality art without being haggled by clients. We have to admit that we saw some absolutely dreadful art. But this phenomenon isn’t unique to Art Toronto even at blue chip art fairs such as, the Armory or Art Basel, there’s always cringe worthy artwork. Yet, strolling down those cavernous hallways looking into booth after booth of art, noteworthy artworks often got lost in the over abundance of art.

In order to enjoy art in the maddening crowds and dizzying clutter of the Art Toronto, you have to get rid of any preconceived notion that art must be viewed in the in quiet contemplative environment of the museum.

Did you have chance to check out the art fair? Did you see anything amazing?

all photographs © Juan Madrigal

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