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Canada’s leading contemporary outdoor and online art fair

July 12 – 14, 2024.

Meet Nelson Cheng Murray & Marvelle Koffler Founder’s Award Winner

Nelson Cheng receiving the award from Flavio Belli (left) and Tiana Koffler Boyman (right)

This year, Nelson Cheng's rigorous architectural cityscape paintings earned him TOAF's coveted Murray & Marvelle Koffler Founder's award of $5,500. He was also shortlisted for this year's Mayor's Purchase Award. 

Nelson depicts environments that are both familiar and unexpected. His fascination with the history of places inspired us to remind you of the story of TOAF and this historic award.

Nelson Cheng receiving the award from Flavio Belli (left) and Tiana Koffler Boyman (right)

TOAF was founded on the premise that art should be available and accessible, and that speaking with an artist about their work is one of the greatest pleasures of creating a personal connection to the arts.  

Our founding family, Murray and Marvelle Koffler, were inspired by that very welcoming nature of the first outdoor art fair they attended at Washington Square in New York City in 1960. Upon their return to Toronto, they were dismayed to read in the newspaper about two artists who were removed from Toronto City Hall for trying to sell their art on city property. 

Together with Alan Jarvis, former Director of the National Gallery of Canada, and the late Jack Pollock, they closed off the parking lot and garden of the then Four Seasons Motor-Hotel on Jarvis Street for a June weekend in 1961, and the first Toronto Outdoor Art Fair was born! 

We are grateful to Tiana Koffler Boyman for her deep commitment to this legacy and for her careful vision in selecting the award winner together with Flavio Belli. The vision behind the Founder's award has been to celebrate an artist who is taking their practice to the next level and pushing the boundaries of the art form. That's exactly what Nelson, and many other artists who have won this award over the past 58 years, have done.



(Left) The winner with the judges; (Right) A stop at Nelson's booth during a 2019 Art Tour at TOAF

Meet Nelson Cheng

On winning the Murray and Marvelle Koffler Founder's Award

"Winning the award has been a huge honour! It is amazing to be included amongst a list of outstanding artists that have come before me and continue this longstanding tradition. I exhibit my artwork at fairs and shows because I love engaging with the public and hearing feedback; it is an opportunity to be vulnerable and share my ideas and passion as an artist. It is a bonus to find an audience that appreciates and enjoys my artwork, so to receive praise and recognition at Canada’s leading contemporary outdoor art fair has been a tremendously positive affirmation of those efforts. It has garnered attention to my practice and bring with it new exciting opportunities, furthermore it has provided me with financial resources to continue my artistic exploration; I am truly grateful." 

– Nelson Cheng


"Patchwork", 48" x 36"

What the Judges had to say

“Cheng’s latest oil paintings, mixed with drawing, are inspired and loosely based on tapestries. Their theme is one of identity and recognition of place.

At any distance, they appear as if woven-but close inspection reveals intricate, detailed and accurate accounts of Toronto and common cityscapes.

Certain parts of his paintings may illustrate a place that we recognize, but overall each painting forms an almost abstract field of pattern through shapes, colours and composition.

His usual flattening of spatial forms, hearkens again to tapestries, making his familiar scenes unfamiliar at the same time.”

– Tiana Koffler Boyman and Flavio Belli

"North", 72" x 60"

Watch: A studio visit with Nelson

Congratulations to Nelson for being featured in Partial Gallery's showcase of select group of Canadian emerging artists at international art fair Daegu Art Fair this week (Nov. 14-17) alongside fellow TOAF artist, Leone McComas

Meet the Artist: Nelson Cheng (via Partial Gallery)
"Yorkville", 36" x 24", is currently on view at Partial Gallery's booth at Daegu Art Fair, South Korea

Visit his website: 
Follow him on Instagram: nlsnchng 
Find Nelson on Facebook

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