art toronto

REVIEW: Art Toronto Dwarfs the Good with the Bad

art toronto

REVIEW: Art Toronto Dwarfs the Good with the Bad

by Sky Goodden

Art Toronto isn’t anyone’s favorite fair, but it is the one we have. Since 1999, the Vancouver-originated, Toronto-based fair has functioned as the only non-specialized platform for Canada’s contemporary art market, inviting international galleries and collectors to engage with our talented multitudes north of the 49th. But despite its import, the event struggles to find relevance within the international artworld’s annual calendar. There was an evident decline in this year’s presenter list, with many notable absences among its slim international roster, and Canada’s best-performing dealers as well. (Apparently Art Toronto attempted to match last year’s focus on Asian galleries by inviting international galleries who represent Canadian talent to partake in a focused section — but the proposition never took). BLOUIN ARTINFO Canada wondered, last spring, if the fair’s steep vendor fee was proving deterrent, or its roster erred on the side of provincialism for its ideal buyers. But while these contributing factors may have informed the fair’s tepid reviews, the biggest hinderance to its global interest lies in a seeming contradiction: in order for Art Toronto to win the hearts of many, it needs to present far fewer.

The fair’s fourteenth edition (October 25-28) cut a more focused profile, but a somewhat unremarkable one. In the absence of geographical attractions and artworld thematics, a slightly smaller coterie carried a dual effect, affording the viewer more time with the work presented, but as a fair, it perceptively carried the tonality of its compromise.

Nevertheless, Art Toronto’s quiet attitude allowed for our greater rumination — a good thing, because the stunners were subtle, and often peered out from young or underrepresented galleries.

The strongest work arrived with Montreal’s emerging galleries (namely galerie antoine ertaskiran, Parisian Laundry, Hugues Charbonneau, and Battat Contemporary), who at turns commanded confident installations of lyricism, minimalism, and pacific abstraction. Sculptural gesture was precarious and hesitating in Jaime Angelopoulos (Parisian Laundry) and Andrea Sala (antoine ertaskiran); and Krisjanis Kaktins-Gorsline (Battat) recalled the work of Chris Ofili in his glittering palettes and navigation of additive space. Charbonneau proffered a roster of artists that formed a beautiful logic, with emerging abstract materialist Tammi Campbell matched in strength through restraint by romantic photographer Benoit Aquin.

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