Art matters in Toronto

Story by Sandra Williams-Hervé Writer


This Emily Carr painting will be displayed in Toronto this month. It usually resides at the Pegasus Gallery of Canadian Art on Salt Spring Island. (Courtesy Art Toronto)

Toronto may be living in the shadows of art meccas like New York City and Berlin, but over the last 15 years the Canadian art scene has undergone a resurgence. And, due to the size and ethnic diversity of this metropolis, Toronto is considered to be the centre of the Canadian art scene. “Although it is not, as yet, as well known in some circles, Canada and Toronto have emerged as one of the strongest economic and financial global players, as well as a vibrant, rich and sophisticated cultural centre. This is the place to watch in the next few years,” says Jennie Biltek, manager of marketing and communications at Informa Canada, the event’s producer.

Toronto has earned its spot on “the one to watch” list because of the prevalence of international art fairs like Art Toronto and the increase in contemporary Canadian art galleries that participate in those events. In its 13th year, Art Toronto is gearing up to wow culture enthusiasts. From October 26-29, 2012, Canada’s only modern and contemporary international art fair will inhabit the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

What to expect from Art Toronto

Visitors will be treated to four days of exhibits by more than a hundred leading and emerging galleries from 23 countries. More than 20,000 collectors, curators, and art lovers are expected to descend upon Toronto over the course of the weekend. This year, organizers are focusing on Asia and the four-day fair is expected to be its largest exhibition ever.

Attendees will have the opportunity to peruse through an oasis of modern and contemporary art. They will feel the rapture of thought-provoking painting, photography, sculpture, installation pieces, performance art and video. The pieces will range from historical to modern, and will consist of works by Lawren Harris, Andy Warhol, Jean Paul Riopelle and more.

At Art Toronto you’ll find a series of titillating programming that will include talks, tours and curated projects. Given the fact that the focus for 2012 is Asia, Beyond Geography is a must-see project. It includes works from Asian artists from 13 galleries that specialize in art from Japan, India, China, the Philippines, Korea, South Asia and Taiwan.

The genesis of a masterpiece

In the early days, Art Toronto was known as the Toronto International Art Fair. In 2000, founder and current director Linel Rebenchuk started Toronto International Art Fair (TIAF). Two years earlier, Rebenchuk and his business partner ran the then-small fair in Vancouver, until it became apparent that Toronto’s art scene was much larger. Toronto has more art galleries and several of the country’s most important visual arts organizations are located in the city. “Being in Toronto meant that TIAF could work with and partner more closely with the AGO, MOCCA and The Power Plant. Toronto also draws from a larger population base, and the proximity to Quebec is also important,” adds Biltek, while speaking from her Vancouver office.

Artful ambitions of Toronto fair

Over the four-day period, Art Toronto sees approximately $17 million in on-site sales, and this doesn’t include unreported transactions or those that take place in the weeks and months that follow. The art dealers who come to Art Toronto come with the purpose of connecting with collectors, and these relationships enable them to grow. “Our other goals are to provide educational opportunities for the public around collecting and investing in art,” Biltek says. “Our on-site program has a strong emphasis on tours and talks that introduce people to including artwork in their homes, offices and generally their lives.”


The diverse pieces on display will include Vivek Vilasini’s work. This painting is from the Gallery Sumukha in Bangalore, India. (Courtesy Art Toronto)

More About Art Toronto

Dates: Opening Night Preview is on October 25, 2012; Buy tickets online or call 416.979.6628. The fair will take place from October 26-29, 2012, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (see map). Here are the 2012 list of events.
Tickets: Children under 10 can enter for free; admission ranges from $14-$35.

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Sandra Williams-Hervé is a writer, actress, and producer who divides her time between Toronto, Canada and Paris, France. She was bitten by the wanderlust bug early in life and has visited just about every continent. After growing up in Ontario, she hopes to visit all of Canada’s diverse provinces.

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