Fall at the Art Gallery of Ontario

I recently visited the Art Gallery of Ontario to see its latest exhibition, Early Rubens. While there, I also took in Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room. Here are my thoughts.


ABOVE: Peter Paul Rubens, Michielson Triptych, known as Christ on the Straw, 1618, oil on wood

BELOW: Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Mirrored Room – Let’s Survive Forever (deatail)

Currently, there are a few things to check out at the AGO:

Early Rubens – October 12, 2019 to January 5, 2020

When you get the chance to see the works of a master – in your home town no less – you should take advantage. Like most AGO shows, this one is well curated. There is a lot of dark content though.

Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room – permanent collection

The most over-hyped artist in the world, Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room is kinda neat. You have to book it in advance and line up to see it though.

Lisa Reihana: In Pursuit of Venus – September 21, 2019 to March 29, 2020

I’m very particular when it comes to video art, but I do like some of it. In Pursuit of Venus by Lisa Reihana is worth checking out if you’re planning a trip to the gallery.

Impressionism in the Age of Industry at the Art Gallery of Ontario

This past weekend, I visited the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) to see it’s latest blockbuster exhibition, Impressionism in the Age of Industry. Here is a short review.


ABOVE: Maximilien Luce, The Steelworks, 1895, oil on canvas

If you love art, and even if you don’t, chances are, you’ve heard of a group of artists called the Impressionists. The Art Gallery of Ontario’s latest exhibition Impressionism in the Age of Industry has many of them, including Monet and Pissarro.

While it’s always nice to see the big names represented, as is often the case, many of the best works in this show are by some of the lesser known of the group. One of my favorite pieces was The Steelworks (pictured above) by Maximilien Luce, and one of my favorite artists was Gustave Caillebotte. He figured prominently in the exhibition, and the selection of his paintings showed a progression from expressionism to realism (he and Manet are probably the most realistic artists of the movement).

As for the overall style of the show, what I love most about the Impressionists, is their ability to create work that appears completely different depending upon your proximity to it. Up close, it’s blurry. From afar, it’s very much in focus. All art does this to a degree, but the Impressionists were masters of it.

Owing to its subject matter (industrialization), this isn’t the brightest of exhibitions. That said, while the color palette is often dull, the paintings do show the beauty in the mundane, and the common worker is respected, if not revered.

All told, this is another solid effort by the Art Gallery of Ontario, and a show worth checking out.

Impressionism in the Age of Industry is at the Art Gallery of Ontario until May 5, 2019.

Winter Art Shows

I’ve been hibernating most of the winter, but it is time to go see some art. Here are three exhibitions I plan to visit in the coming weeks. I’ll write a review of each as I do.


ABOVE: The Art Gallery of Ontario, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Ai Weiwei: Unbroken, Gardiner Museum, February 28 – June 9, 2019

I’m a big fan of Ai Wewei, and loved his last show at the Art Gallery of Ontario. This time, he is bringing his ceramic works to the Gardiner. If you’re still avoiding winter, there’s still lots of time to see this exhibition.

Impressionism in the Age of Industry: Monet, Pissaro and More, Art Gallery of Ontario, February 16 – May 5, 2019

Probably the biggest show of the season, this is likely to be it’s most popular as well. Like the show above, this one runs into the spring, so if you’re still in hibernation mode, you’ve got lots of time. I plan on seeing it this weekend.

Museum of Contemporary Art

After a lengthy hiatus, the Museum of Contemporary Art opened its doors in September. I’ve been meaning to check it out since then. Hopefully, I’ll make it out there soon. The new space looks awesome.


Anthropocene at the Art Gallery of Ontario

This past weekend, I visited the Art Gallery of Ontario to check out its latest exhibition: Anthropocene. For those unfamiliar with the show, here is a quick review.


ABOVE: Edward Burtynsky, Dandora Landfill #3, Plastics Recycling, Nairobi, Kenya 2016 (Detail), pigment inkjet print

BELOW: Edward Burtynsky, Oil Bunkering #1, Niger Delta, Nigeria, 2016 (Detail), pigment inkjet print

I’ve long been a fan of Edward Burtynsky’s photography, and the film Manufactured Landscapes is one of my favorite documentaries. For those reasons, I was super excited to check out his latest exhibition, Anthropocene at the Art Gallery of Ontario. In it, his photographs are presented alongside the work of filmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier.

For those unfamiliar with Burtynsky’s work, he travels the world documenting the effects of humans on the ecosystem. His photographs are superbly done, beautiful, and sad.

For those unfamiliar with the term Anthropocene, it is defined as follows: From the Greek anthopos, meaning “human being” and kainos, meaning “new” or “recent.” It is the proposed current geological epoch, in which humans are the primary cause of permanent planetary change.

This is an often stunning, often depressing exhibition that will leave you with a lot to think about. Information is presented in a non-preachy manner, and viewers are left to draw their own conclusions. It is truly global in its scope, and contains images from both developed and developing nations.

Anthropocene may be the most important exhibition the Art Gallery of Ontario has had all year. If you put the time and effort in to see Infinity Mirrors, you should definitely come see this.

Antropocene is at the Art Gallery of Ontario until January 6, 2019.

Fall Art in Toronto

I’ve been a little behind in my art viewing these past few months. Here are two current Toronto exhibitions that I plan on visiting and reviewing in future blog posts.


ABOVE: Edward Burtynsky, Clearcut #1, Palm Oil Plantation, Borneo, Malaysia, 2016. Pigment inkjet print, 148.6 x 198.1 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto. © Edward Burtynsky, 2017.


September 28, 2018 – January 6, 2019

Art Gallery of Ontario

Photographer Edward Burtynsky and filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier travelled the world to document the irreversible marks of human activity. More than Banksy, even more than Infinity Mirrors, this may be the exhibition everyone should see this year.


September 22, 2018 – January 6, 2019

Museum of Contemporary Art

The inaugural exhibition of the long delayed Museum of Contemporary Art, includes 16 artists and covers 3 floors. Through various materials and disciplines, each artist examines how we believe and perceive. If anything, it’s worth a visit just to check out the new space.


The Biggest Art Show to Come to Toronto in Years

Sometimes, a show comes around that is so popular, everyone wants in on the action. Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors appears to be that show. The buzz around it is insane.



ABOVE: Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, 2013, wood, metal, glass mirrors, plastic, acrylic panel, rubber, LED lighting system, acrylic balls, and water, 113.25 x 163.5 x 163.5 inches

From the art of the Barnes Foundation, to the works of the Musée Picasso, I’ve seen some incredible exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Ontario. While they’ve often been well attended, they’re all likely to be eclipsed by Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors. The demand for this show is crazy. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Usually, I get tickets via my fiancé (who volunteers at the gallery), but for this exhibition, even they aren’t getting any. No, I’m going to have to go online when the next block of tickets becomes available, and if I’m lucky enough to get them, take time off work to visit the gallery on a weekday. Oh well, I’ve had a good run.

If you’re fortunate enough to have tickets to this, know that you are one of a lucky few. And please, don’t make this the only art show you visit this year.

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors is at the Art Gallery of Ontario from March 3 to May 27, 2018.

Guillermo del Toro at the AGO

This past weekend, I visited the Art Gallery of Ontario to see it’s latest exhibition, Gillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters. Here is a short review.


Surprisingly, Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters is not the most depressing thing I’ve seen at the Art Gallery of Ontario (that award goes to Alex Colville) or the darkest (paging Francis Bacon). Believe it or not, it’s actually one of the gallery’s lightest exhibitions, and probably the one I would have enjoyed the most as a child. That may sound a bit weird (maybe I was a twisted kid), but it really isn’t as scary as it first appears.

Although some of the imagery may terrify a small child, for adults, it’s not a particularly haunting exhibition. I get the impression that beyond the imagery, del Toro is probably a decent dude. Many artists aren’t, although on the surface, they may appear to be.

At Home with Monsters provides an interesting glimpse into the mind of a supremely creative individual, but it is not all that heavy or intellectual. That’s okay, because it is well put together and visually stunning. In fact, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon looking at cool, if not creepy stuff. If you’ve got some time between now and the new year, I suggest you go.

Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters is at the Art Gallery of Ontario until January 7, 2018.

Georgia O’Keefe at the Art Gallery of Ontario

This past Saturday, I hopped on the subway and headed downtown to see the Georgia O’Keeffe retrospective at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Here is a brief review.


ABOVE: Georgia O’Keeffe, My Front Yard, Summer, 1941, oil on canvas, 20 x 30 inches

BELOW: Georgia O’Keefe, Nature Forms – Gaspe, 1932, oil on canvas

Georgia O’Keeffe had a long and storied career that spanned many decades, so a full accounting of her life and work would be a tall order for any institution. That said, the people who put this exhibition together tried, and for that they deserve credit. This show isn’t perfect, but it’s still pretty good. Here are my thoughts:

There are a lot of pieces on display, and for the most part, they are shown in chronological order. While I would have liked to see more cityscapes (as they are my favorite of her works) there are at least a few key pieces from each phase of her artistic journey. Interspersed throughout, are numerous photographs of O’Keeffe, posing, and at work in her studio. These bring context to the exhibition, and being shot by the likes of Ansel Adams and Alfred Steiglitz, are exceptional on their own.

While walking through the galleries, I overheard a couple complaining that there were only “6 flowers in the show.” While this is true, the quality of what is on display is pretty impressive. O’Keeffes craft is really tight, and her paintings are very well made. You can rarely spot a pencil line in her work, which shows a strong attention to detail, and a labor intensive practice. She wasn’t whipping these things off, she was taking her time.

In terms of imagery, the retrospective does an excellent job of highlighting some of O’Keeffes many influences, namely abstraction and minimalism – her simplest works are quite calming. In terms of palette, her greens, whites and blues really pop. Her reds, not so much.

Pleasantly, there is a Canadian connection to all this, that being her painting “Nature Forms – Gaspe”. It was, by far, my favorite piece in the exhibition. It’s small, and tucked into a corner, but judging by the murmurs around it, seemed to impress everyone who saw it – not just me.

All said and done, this is a fairly well thought out exhibition, that while lacking some blockbuster pieces, gives a good accounting of the life and work of one of the 20th centuries greatest artists. If you’re a fan of her work, I highly suggest you go.

Georgia O’Keeffe is at the Art Gallery of Ontario until July 30, 2017.