Story by Rod Charles
Vacay.ca Deputy Editor
TORONTO, ONTARIO — I couldn’t stop thinking of The Matrix movie as my eyes surveyed the mind-bending work of Aydın Büyüktas, an exceptional artist who was recently showcased at Matter Gallery in Toronto.
I found his art captivating and coming from a nerd who counts Stan Lee and Bill Watterson among his greatest artistic heroes, that’s saying a lot. An emerging sought-after digital photography artist from Turkey, Büyüktas depicts surreal land and cityscapes in his creations that are inspired by his love of science fiction.
Another group of artists that had my undivided attention was The Nest Collective, an accomplished group of ten filmmakers, visual performers, photographers, musicians and fashion designers from Kenya who characterize their work as exploring troubling modern identities, rethinking the past and remixing the future. Looking at their photos was like watching a live performance on a concert hall stage.
These are just two of the artists on display at Matter, which opened March 23 of this year in the Dovercourt Park Arts Community. The area has also become a sweet location for other fine galleries like Cooper Cole and Neubacher Shor Contemporary.
Dovercourt Park Arts Community and Matter aren’t household names and they certainly don’t draw the number of tourists as Art Gallery of Ontario or Royal Ontario Museum, heavy hitters that are blessed with famous artists and exceptional locations. For those willing to go the extra mile though, Matter Gallery and the surrounding community is a rewarding stop.
The gallery was founded by international business and sustainability expert Lara Morton who explained that Matter donates a portion of their sales to arts-based organizations in Toronto, as well as building mentorship programs for young artists in the city.
“Matter is the only gallery in the city with a global mandate specializing in contemporary art from underrepresented regions, namely Africa, Latin America, Middle East and Asia,” says Morton, adding that visiting Matter feels like stepping into a portal where art lovers can turn their single destination trip into a continent hopping adventure. “Matter sheds the traditional gallery environment in favor of an inclusive experience designed to inspire intercultural dialogue through contemporary art. The gallery is a lively space and engaging space presenting a dynamic calendar of events including film screenings, panel discussions and evenings in support of local arts based charitable organizations.”
The gallery is curated by program director Zack Pospieszynski, a former gallery owner, artist and art professor. Matter features multi-disciplinary artists, both established and emerging, and working in mediums including photography, tapestry, and painting.
Artists on their roster for 2017 include Malekeh Nayiny a fine artist and digital photographer from Iran living and working in Paris who is best known for juxtaposing cultural elements while exploring personal narratives. Simon Back, a painter from Zimbabwe currently living and working in Mauritius. Gözde Ilkin, one of Turkey’s most prominent rising contemporary art stars. Finally there is Siwa Mgoboza, a young multidisciplinary artist from South Africa who explores notions of difference and belonging as informed by his personal experiences of prejudice and assimilation.
The artists on display at Matter couldn’t be more diverse but what they have in common is the high-caliber of their work, well deserved accolades and creative potential. Or to put it in the authentic, enlightened words of a cartoon-loving nerd who adores Stan Lee and Bill Watterson … these artists are totally awesome. Nuff said!
MORE ABOUT MATTER GALLERY
Address: 104 A — 344, Westmoreland Ave North
Hours: By appointment or Tuesday — Saturday 11 — 7, Sunday 12 — 5
Upcoming Exhibitions: Currently, Matter Gallery is exhibiting Simon Back until July 30th. Aydın Büyüktas’ work will be back on display during his solo exhibition starting August 2nd until September 17th. To see a schedule of upcoming exhibitions at Matter, click here.