Jean-Michel Basquiat at the AGO

This year, the Art Gallery of Ontario’s blockbuster exhibition is Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now’s the Time. I braved the cold and saw it last weekend. It was worth the trip.

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ABOVE: Jean-Michel Basquiat, The Death of Michael Stewart, 1983, acrylic and marker on wood,  25 x 30.5 inches, Collection of Nina Clemente.

BELOW: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Obnoxious Liberals, 1982, acrylic, oil stick and spray paint on canvas, 68 x 102 inches, The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Collection

Last Saturday was a typical winter’s day in Toronto; the weather was total shit. To escape the February blahs, I decided to take in the Art Gallery of Ontario’s (AGO) latest show Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now’s the Time. As it turned out, half the city was of the same mindset; the place was packed. Over-crowding aside, I’m glad I went.

A great deal of effort went into this exhibition (the AGO consulted with several members from Toronto’s black community) and it shows. The curation is informative but subtle, and it adds to the overall experience without detracting from the art on display.

As for the art, it is often confrontational, and it addresses key issues such as racism, authority and class struggle. Basquiat’s works are political, emotional and experiential, and there’s a ton of integrity within them. I say this because, even if his style isn’t to your taste, there is a lot to take away from this show. If his style is to your taste (it is to mine), then you’ll take away even more.

Basquiat: Now’s the Time is at the AGO until May 10, 2015. I suggest you go.

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Must See Art Shows in Toronto this Winter

One of the best things about living in a big city is the art. With that said, if you’re in Toronto this month (and next), the following shows will likely be stellar.

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ABOVE: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, 1981, acrylic, oilstick, paper collage and spray paint on canvas, 96.25 x 72 inches, The Broad Foundation, © Licensed by Artestar, New York

The Bad News: If you’ve ever been to Toronto, you know it can get really, really cold in January/February.

The Good News: There is a lot of great art to look at.

Stay warm, and go to the following shows:

Douglas Coupland

Daniel Faria Gallery (January 22 – March 21), Royal Ontario Museum & Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art (January 31 – April 18)

Seems like Coupland will be all over the city this winter. Maybe I’ll read another one of his books before I go.

Kent Monkman

Pierre-Francois Ouellette Art Contemporian (January 30 – February 28)

This guy can paint, and his piece in the Art Gallery of Ontario is outstanding. Here’s hoping he brings his ‘A’ game.

Jean-Michel Basquiat

Art Gallery of Ontario (February 7 – May 16)

Probably the biggest exhibition to hit the city this year. Of all the shows in 2015, I’m looking forward to this one the most.

Artists at Work

I’m far too busy to write a full blog entry this week, so instead, I’ve decided to post photos of other artists working.

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ABOVE: Jackson Pollock at work in his studio, 1950, photo: Hans Namuth

ABOVE: Jean-Michel Basquiat painting “Punch Bag”, 1983, photo: Lee Jaffe

ABOVE: Pablo Picasso drawing a centaur in the air with light, 1949, photo: Gjon Mili

ABOVE: Henri Matisse modelling in clay, 1951, photo: Dmitri Kessel

For more images of artists at work, you can check out my Pinterest board here: