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.

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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.

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My Plan

After building a body of work, and a small exhibition record, it was time to take a step back in order to move forward. It’s been a while since I’ve finished something new, but I’m getting there.

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In the past two years, I have moved homes, gotten engaged, and payed down debt. As such, my focus has not been on my art. Sure, I’ve dabbled a bit from time to time, but I’ve yet to dive back into it fully.

That’s okay, because in the past, I would dive in head first. Moving forward, I will take my time producing new work (spreading production costs over a longer period of time), and be more selective in how I show it.

I’m going to think twice before paying juries to reject me. I’m going to think twice before showing my work in a tent. I’d still like to be represented by a gallery, but if that doesn’t happen, so be it.

I’m going to make work, I’m going to show it (likely in a space I’ve rented), then I’m going to take a step back, take a break, and figure out how to do it all over again.

Slow and steady wins the race.

Smartphone Photo Apps

If, like most people, you take a majority of your photo’s on your smartphone, you’ll need a few decent apps to help with editing. Here are my thoughts on a few I’ve used.

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ABOVE: Photo edited using Fused

Snapseed

Cost: Free

By far the best of the bunch. Really, this might be all you need. Remove objects, adjust levels, apply filters. This app has it all. Did I mention it’s free.

Picfx

Cost: Free with extra $ for premium filters

Nowhere near as good as it used to be. Most of the best filters have been removed (including a ‘space’ filter that was just plain awesome). When I first got this app it was great. Now, not so much.

PS Express

Cost: Free

Pretty good. Lots of filters along with some more serious tools (noise reduction, object removal). Bounce between this and Snapseed, and you should be able to produce some slick images.

Fused

Cost: Free

Allows you to produce double exposed images. Fun to play around in. Can produce some neat images. Not a proper app on its own, but a good compliment to Snapseed or PS Express.

My Favorite Toronto Buildings

Toronto may not be the world’s prettiest city, but it’s not without it’s charm. That said, here are a few of my favorite buildings – any list without the CN Tower doesn’t count.

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ABOVE: Michael Lee-Chin Crystal (addition to the Royal Ontario Museum). Designed by Daniel Libeskind. Completed in 2007.

ABOVE: Toronto-Dominion Centre. Designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Completed in 1969.

ABOVE: CN Tower. Designed by WZMH Architects: John Andrews, Webb Zerafa, Menkes Houdsen. Completed 1976.

ABOVE: Royal Bank Plaza. Designed by WZMH Architects. Completed 1979.

About My Work

As an artist, it is sometimes good to think about your work, and why you do the things you do. Below, is a little bit about my subject matter, materials, composition and themes.

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SUBJECT MATTER

Buildings: I am a fan of interesting buildings, but for my art, I prefer generic elements that could be placed in any urban environment. There are no discernible landmarks in my artwork.

Clouds: I like the universality of clouds and their ability to transcend all landscapes. I often use them as backgrounds in my pieces, and as a means of bringing unity to a series of work.

Trees: I see trees as living sculpture, and I am constantly taking photographs of those I find interesting. Beyond their importance to the well-being of the planet, they have a distinct visual place in both urban and rural environments. Being a northerner, I’m especially interested in those with a definitive – and visible – life cycle.

People: I generally don’t include them in my work. If they’re there, they are tiny and nondescript. This is intentional (see below).

MATERIALS

Mirrors: Without question, my favorite material is mirror paint. Beyond its aesthetic aspects – which I love – I use it as a means of bringing the viewer into the piece, and making them a part of the landscape (see above).

Mica: I like shiny things, and, as people often associate shiny things with worth, I use mica flakes to convey the value of the natural subject matter in my art.

COMPOSITION

Measurement: Maybe it’s my OCD, but when it comes to measurement, I am incredibly anal. Every element in a given piece has a specific measurement, and those measurements are repeated across a series.

Repetition: As above, I’m big on symmetry, so an element or two from one of my artworks will be repeated in some form throughout a series (of the same measurement of course). This is another way of conveying unity.

THEMES

Juxtaposition: Having grown up in the suburbs and lived the majority of my adult life in the city, I am fascinated by the duality of the urban and the rural. Whether it be visual, cultural or political, the two are often diametrically opposed.

Connectivity: While polarity is a central them in my work, I combine visual elements and materials so as to bring multiple works – and view points – together as one. This is by no means an attempt to lead the viewer. They will take from the work as they choose.