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Contemporary Art

Hot Art: Dutch Masterworks at the Vancouver Art Gallery

Balthasar van der Ast's "Untitled (Still Life with Peaches and Shells)." Photo by Jim Gorman courtesy Vancouver Art Gallery

“Untitled (Still Life with Peaches and Shells)” by Balthasar van der Ast. Photo by Jim Gorman courtesy Vancouver Art Gallery

If the Netherlands isn’t in your itinerary—and even if it is—take a trip to the Vancouver Art Gallery for Persuasive Visions: 17th Century Dutch and Flemish Masterworks and Contemporary Reflections (Jun. 15 to Sep. 15) to see works from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Find pieces from the Dutch Golden Age, including artist Balthasar van der Ast’s “Untitled (Still Life with Peaches and Shells)” (pictured), alongside contemporary art, for an exhibition that’s well worth the journey.—Jill Von Sprecken

Hot Art: Artist Esther Shalev-Gerz Explores Identity at Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery

“Still/Film” by Esther Shalev-Gerz. Photo courtesy Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery

Esther Shalev-Gerz presents multimedia installations and photos in her self-titled exhibition at Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery (Jan. 11 to Apr. 14). The Lithuanian-born, Israeli-raised artist, who now lives in Paris, explores themes of place, history and citizenship in her haunting works (“Still/Film,” pictured).—Kristina Urquhart

Hot Art: Contemporary Master Ian Wallace at Vancouver Art Gallery

Photo by Tomas Svab of Ian Wallace’s “Lookout,” 1979 (detail), collection of Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver Art Gallery Acquisition Fund

Get yourself to Vancouver Art Gallery to see the works of a Canadian contemporary master in Ian Wallace: At the Intersection of Painting and Photography (to Feb. 24). Wallace, who lives in Vancouver, was among the first artists to explore large-scale photography in the 1970s. Since colour printing wasn’t yet available for such big pictures, he hand-painted his black-and-white gelatin prints, emphasizing minimalistic details. Wallace’s cinematic panorama “Lookout” (pictured in detail), composed of 12 prints totalling 14.5 m (47.5 ft) in length, is an arresting example of this technique.—Kristina Urquhart

Hot Art: Contemporary Paintings at Granville Fine Art

"Nest Mandala II" by Suzanne Northcott

Check out the contemporary paintings and drawings in New Work by Suzanne Northcott, a local mixed-media artist who favours the themes of transformation and migration (“Nest Mandala II,” pictured). At Granville Fine Art (Mar. 24 to 30).—Kristina Urquhart

Hot Art: Painters at Work

"Departing Gesture" by Elzbieta Krawecka at Elissa Cristall Gallery

See how one medium can produce different styles in 6 Painters at Elissa Cristall Gallery (Nov. 3 to 30). Polish-born Elzbieta Krawecka’s soft landscapes evoke European painters of yore (“Departing Gesture,” pictured), while Alberta artist Paul Bernhardt’s modern scenes examine structures in the urban environment. Also gracing the gallery walls: colourful abstracts by both Anda Kubis and Yang Hong, grid works by Sean Mills and contemporary landscapes by Gavin Lynch.—Kristina Urquhart

More information:

ELISSA CRISTALL GALLERY 2245 Granville St. 604-730-9611. www.cristallgallery.com

Hot Art: Lay of the Land

"Lake of the Woods" by Gavin Lynch

Storytelling is paramount for artist Gavin Lynch, who explores the cultural narratives of northern BC in A New Look at Contemporary Landscape at Elissa Cristall Gallery (Jun. 4 to Jul. 2). Lynch employs a collage technique in his oil-and-acrylic canvases, building up paint to achieve his super-saturated look (“Lake of the Woods,” pictured).—Kristina Urquhart

Hot Art: Timely Viewing

Kelly Richardson's Twilight Avenger video installation

MARCH 4 TO AUGUST 1 Contemporary art is art that is literally “of its time,” intrinsically linked to the era in which it is produced and consumed. So it’s natural that the Art Gallery of Ontario would choose the concept of temporality to organize a display of its recent acquisitions. The exhibition Sculpture as Time brings together a broad selection of works created since the 1960s that, if not explicitly “on the clock”—like On Kawara’s I Got Up postcards, stamped with the hour at which the artist awoke on various mornings—nonetheless invite viewers to engage with time as a transformative phenomenon—will it be tranquility or frustration that prevails while you wait to glimpse the elusive deer in Kelly Richardson’s Twilight Avenger video? Enjoy these works in the moment; their effect will resonate long after.

Hot Art: Spring Project

Meghan Monahan's Pink Vastness, showing at The Artist Project Toronto

MARCH 4 TO 7 Fix your winter-weary gaze on some fresh artwork this month as The Artist Project Toronto returns for its third year. The contemporary art fair showcases the talents of more than 175 carefully selected Canadian and international artists. Visitors are invited to take in the large-scale sculptures and site-specific pieces comprising Installation Alley, listen to experts as part of the Art Chat series, vote for the best “Queen”-themed work of art, and generally peruse an eclectic collection of paintings, prints, photographs, glass works, digital art and more. Proceeds from the expo’s opening night preview benefit Sketch, a charitable organization that creates art-making opportunities for at-risk youth. Exhibition Place, Queen Elizabeth Building, $8 to $12 ($25 for opening night preview); call 416-960-3680 or visit here for tickets and more information.

Hot Art: The Crown Jewel

Donna Baspaly's "Jewels of Antiquity" at Kurbatoff Art Gallery

Donna Baspaly's "Jewels of Antiquity" at Kurbatoff Art Gallery

Contemporary Canadian art purveyor Kurbatoff Art Gallery showcases its permanent artists in New Works (to Jan. 30). The rich autumnal tones of Donna Baspaly’s abstract-yet-geometric “Jewels of Antiquity” (pictured) are especially striking—her mixed-media pieces boast a heavily textured look achieved through layers of stamps, collage papers and glazing.—Kristina Urquhart

October Hot Date: Scotiabank Nuit Blanche

D. A. Therrien's <em>Beautiful Light: four-Letter Word Machine</em> (photo by CGI: Dayvid LeMmon).

D. A. Therrien's Beautiful Light: four-Letter Word Machine (photo by CGI: Dayvid LeMmon).

OCTOBER 3 For one night, the city’s parks, alleyways and store fronts are transformed into exhibition spaces for contemporary art installations by more than 550 artists. Modeled after the Paris event, and dubbed “a free all-night contemporary art thing,” Scotiabank Nuit Blanche allows artistic revelers to carouse—for free!—from sunset to sundown at various museums and galleries, which are keeping their doors open straight on till morning. Beautiful Light: Four-Letter Word Machine by D.A. Therrien is among the highlights: four giant light sculptures suspended between the towers of City Hall project ever-changing four-letter words. Call 416-338-0338 for a list of participating venues.  —Jenelle DaSilva-Rupchand.

Start Planning Now: Scotiabank Nuit Blanche Returns!

A luchador climbs the steel cage in Shaun El C. Leonardo's <em>Battle Royal</em>, to be presented at this year's Scotiabank Nuit Blanche.

A luchador climbs the steel cage in Shaun El C. Leonardo's Battle Royal, to be presented at this year's Scotiabank Nuit Blanche (photo by Ricky Auyeung).

How would you prepare to stay awake from dusk until dawn? Would you train by gradually depriving yourself of sleep over a series of nights? Or you could try the opposite approach and seek a surplus of shut-eye leading up to the all-nighter, in the hope of stockpiling your 40 winks. (But how much is enough? 80 winks? 120?) And of course, there is the middle way: frequent doses of caffeine.

Whatever your preference, you’ll want to start planning now, as the countdown to Toronto’s fourth annual “all-night contemporary art thing,” Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, officially began today, with the announcement of its 2009 programming.

The event, beginning on the evening of October 3 and continuing through to the next morning, unites Torontonians (and visitors—last year, more than 100,000 people travelled to the city specifically for Nuit Blanche) in a celebration of creativity. Three “zones”—the areas in and around City Hall and Yonge-Dundas Square, the Financial District, and Liberty Village—play host to 46 diverse, curated installations that not only offer artistic expression through such contemporary media as sound, video, light and performance, but also seek to incorporate site-specificity and, in some cases, viewer interaction as part of the creative experience.

Among the projects Where Toronto can’t wait to see:

  • Geoffrey Farmer’s The Blinking Eyes of Everything, which is said to induce hallucinatory visions through the use of stroboscopic “dream” machines;
  • Battle Royal, a performance piece by Shaun El C. Leonardo employing a steel cage, 20 blindfolded wrestlers and a “fight to the end”;
  • D. A. Therrien’s Beautiful Lights: Four Letter Word Machine, whereby four gigantic light sculptures flash “codes, DNA sequences and elemental words” from between City Hall’s two towers; and,
  • The financial-forces metaphor Wild Ride, organized by Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan—two midway rides set up in the middle of Bay Street physically manifest the ups and downs of the free market. Bonus points for hubristic synergy: the rides are staffed by recently downsized businesspeople.

This year’s Nuit Blanche promises to be more accessible than ever before, with the TTC providing all-night service along the downtown sections of the Bloor-Danforth and Yonge/University/Spadina subway lines. Road closures in key areas (such as a large portion of Bay Street, between Gerrard and Front streets) are also a boon to bipedal art lovers, and the fact that the individual projects have been placed closer together means that you can see much more during however many hours you choose to spend looking at this city in a whole new (night) light.