Nuit Blanche 2016

Every year I look forward to Nuit Blanche, and every year I find something to like. Unfortunately, this was not one of those years. Here is a quick review.


ABOVE: Director X, Death of the Sun, installation

BELOW: Myriam Yates, Planetarium/Terminal

I love that Toronto hosts Nuit Blanche and I hope they do so forever. That said, not every edition is a great one. 2016 falls into that category.

I began my night at Nathan Phillips Square where my favorite piece of the night, Floria Sigismondi’s Pneuma stole the show. It was crowded, and it took some jostling to get a decent view, but it was by far the most compelling thing on the square. In comparison, Director X’s Death of the Sun was totally underwhelming, although, to be fair, I may have caught it at a bad time  – apparently, it actually did look like the sun at times.

From there, I made my way to Union Station where Asalto Toronto’s And the Transformation Reveals consisted of climbing people projected onto the front of the station. On it’s own, this is pretty subpar, but when you learn that the projection is of regular Torontonians, it gets a little bit cooler – who says art can’t be fun?

From Union Station, I made my way to the lake front, where many of the nights exhibits were placed. While there, I walked through Smelling the Sky by French artist Julie C. Fortier. It consisted of various fragrances (created by the artist) diffused along a dimly lit passage. It was a great idea, but I could really only smell one thing – bad cologne. Maybe it’s me, I am getting a cold.

All in all, I’m still glad I went because even when it’s bad, it’s not a total waste of time. I just wish there were more large scale installations (I love those) and less video’s (there seemed to be a ton of them). While I liked that this years edition appeared less corporate, I didn’t like the overall tone. It just seemed, well, dull.

Full disclosure: The weather sucked and I wasn’t feeling that well.

Kim Dorland at Angell Gallery

Starting with Nuit Blanche and ending with Art Toronto, October is going to be great for art lovers. I’m especially looking forward to the Kim Dorland show opening mid-month.


ABOVE: Kim Dorland, Untitled (Painter in a Canoe), 2013, oil and acrylic on jute over wood panel, 72 x 29 inches

BELOW: Kim Dorland, So Fucked-up, 2008, oil, acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 60 x 72 inches

Kim Dorland’s new show “I Know That I Know Nothing” opens October 14 at the Angell Gallery, and, being a fan of his work, I’m really looking forward to it. While I plan on writing a review of the show later this month, here first is a little bio:

Born in 1974 in Wainwright Alberta, Kim Dorland graduated with an MFA from York University (in Toronto) and now lives and works in Vancouver, B.C.

His career began to take off in the early 2000’s and in 2007 he was a finalist in the RBC Canadian Painting Competition (he didn’t win). Since then, he’s shown in multiple venues including a solo exhibition at the prestigious McMichael Canadian Art Collection in 2014.

His work, which takes its inspiration from Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven is in some ways similar to Peter Doig, but with a heavier, almost sculptor-like hand (Dorland often adds so many layers of paint that screws are needed to anchor everything in place). To add contrast, washes and sprays are placed alongside thick globs of paint, and bright florescent colors are used to accent darker spaces. All this makes for a complex and compelling visual narrative.

The doors to this exhibition don’t open for another 16 days but if I had to guess, it’s going to be one of the years best shows.

Ten Iconic Artworks in Europe

Last week, I listed a few of the amazing artworks on display in the United States. This week, I thought I’d do the same for Europe. It was incredibly hard to pick just ten.


Row 1:

Johannes Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl Earring (Mauritshuis, The Hague)

Row 2:

Eugène Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People (The Louvre, Paris)

Pablo Picasso, Guernica (Museo Nacional Centrovde Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid)

Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa (The Louvre, Paris)

Row 3:

Michelangelo, David (Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze, Florence)

Francisco Goya, The Third of May (Prado Museum, Madrid)

Rembrandt, The Night Watch (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam)

Row 4:

Leonardo da Vinci, The Last Supper (Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milano)

Hieronymous Bosch, Garden of Earthly Delights (Prado Museum, Madrid)

Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel ceiling (Sistine Chapel, Vatican City)

Ten Iconic Artworks in the USA

Of all the worlds great art treasures, many can be seen in the United States of America. Here are ten of the most iconic artworks to be found in the land of liberty.


Row 1:

Vincent Van Gogh, Starry Night (Museum of Modern Art, New York City)

Row 2:

Katsushika Hokusai, Great Wave Off Kanagawa (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City)

Grant Wood, American Gothic (Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago)

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Luncheon of the Boating Party (The Phillips Collection, Washington DC)

Row 3:

Georges-Pierre Seurat, Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago)

Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (Museum of Modern Art, New York City)

Rene Magritte, The Treachery of Images (Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles)

Row 4:

Salvador Dali, The Persistence of Memory (Museum of Modern Art, New York City)

J.M.W. Turner, The Slave Ship (Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

Edward Hopper, Nighthawks (Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago)

Some of My Favorite Art Exhibitions

I love art exhibitions, and through the years, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing some really great ones. Of them all, here are three of my favorites – in no particular order.


ABOVE: Scott Hocking, The Reptile Room: Mercury Retrograde, installation


SiTE:LAB @ 54 Jefferson (formerly the Grand Rapids Public Museum)

Grand Rapids, Michigan

In 2012, SiTE:LAB took over the former home of the Grand Rapids Public Museum and filled the space with the work of 18 artists. The building, which was vacated in 1994, still contained a number of its dioramas and exhibits, and they, along with the artist’s installations, provided the viewer with a truly unique experience. It was surreal and creepy, and, it was the top venue at Artprize 2012.


ABOVE: Ai Weiwei, Straight, installation


Ai Weiwei: According to What? (Art Gallery of Ontario)

Toronto, Ontario

Having followed Weiwei’s exploits in the news, I was super excited to see this politically charged exhibition. Everything on display was deep, but I especially liked Straight (pictured above), which consisted of 150 tons of rebar recovered from schools that had collapsed in the Sichuan earthquake. They were all straightened, and on the wall behind them, were the names of the students who lost their lives in the quake. Heavy.


ABOVE: Gabriel Dawe, Plexus A1, installation


Wonder (Renwick Gallery)

Washington D.C.

In 2015, after a two-year renovation, the Renwick Gallery opened its doors to Wonder, an immersive exhibition featuring the work of 9 artists. Each was given a room to create a site specific installation, and the entire building became one immersive artwork. As the title suggests, it was a wonderful space to spend an hour two, and, judging by the long lineups to get in, it was a big hit with the locals too.

Art Quotes: Part 3

I love quotes and I love searching them out on the internet – especially when I’m too lazy to write a short blog post. This is one of those weeks. So, here goes.


ABOVE: Banksy, Naked Man, graffiti, Park Street, Bristol

“The function of the artist in a disturbed society is to give awareness of the universe, to ask the right questions, and to elevate the mind.” Marina Abramovic

“Speak softly, but carry a big can of paint.” Bansky

“I don’t feel any real animosity towards critics when they write negative things. I think some are more perceptive than others. Some are very knowledgeable about painting. But it isn’t something I have any influence over, so there isn’t any point in worrying about it.” Peter Doig

“The reason artists want to have works in museums is that we want our works to be seen by as many people as possible and we want our ideas to be understood in more complicated ways.” Theaster Gates

“Every time I have had a problem, I have confronted it with the ax of art.” Yayoi Kusama

“My job is not to produce answers. My job is to produce good questions.” Glenn Ligon

“Focusing isn’t just an optical activity, it is also a mental one.” Bridget Riley

“Nowadays, with digital printing, it’s so easy to make everything perfect, which is not always a good idea. Sometimes the mistakes are really what make a piece.” Cindy Sherman 

“Artists live in unknown spaces and give themselves over to following something unknown.” Kiki Smith

“The artist is like an abuser of everything, picture, history, and other people.” Kara Walker