TOAF61 makes a return to Nathan Phillips Square in harmony with our celebrated Online Fair. The widespread return to in-person activities urges us to reflect on a re-emerging social life. In this special editorial, artists share visions of social relationships in a pre-pandemic past, emotion-filled depictions of the present, and hope for a compassionate future.
Henry captures everyday life through visual storytelling in his Toronto Life Series, a collection based on the humanities of the city of Toronto. As part of the Toronto Life Series, Wait is a watercolour illustration on paper depicting a social scene on a corner of Queen St. E. The work illustrates a familiar scene to many of us, though the masked figures waiting for the streetcar mark this illustration in a particular point of our history. The title, in combination with the subject, vivid rendering, and delicate illustrative style of the work, communicate a collectively experienced waiting period between pre-pandemic life and the new-normal that is to come.
Art for Empathy
Online-only participation in TOAF61 does not limit Shahrzad’s ability to connect with us all through art. Sculpted in urethane resin, Beams of a smile #2 causes us to reflect on the social implications of our most simple expressions. The sculptural figure poses with arms wide open, a stance resembling the initial movement towards a spontaneous hug. These days, a hug is an action that many of us avoid with intention but miss quite dearly. Seeking to represent the human emotions and expressions that we all share, Shahrzad notes that this collection was created in an empathetic state of mind.
Sandamali is the self-taught Sri-Lankan-Canadian artist behind Unconditional Love, a pencil drawing using graphite, colour pencils, and charcoal. The stark contrast between the bright, lightly shaded figures and the dark negative space in the background invites the viewer to examine the details of the drawing. As the viewer’s eye moves from the singularly coloured wristbands to the determined facial expression of the mother, we are asked to deeply consider her internal reality and relationship to her child. Sandamali is inspired by the social struggle in countries with political and economic hardships, noting an interest in the beauty and emotion stored in the contours of the human body. The “body language” uncovered in the realism of Sandamali’s drawing invites a compassionate view of a particular life experience.
Loving People, Loving Nature
Diana mixes pop art and naïve folk styles with abstract and figurative representations to create eye-catching artwork like The butterfly and the loving heart. In this acrylic painting, green and red hues are bright and smoothly rendered, directing the eye of the viewer to discover a connection between the human and natural figures. The human-like figures merge with cactus plants, butterfly wings, and bug-like eyes to illustrate this connection, and the cactus plants overlap to affirm this vital link. The connection drawn between humans is equally considered, as the multi figure portrait and representational heart on the right-side figure indicate an emotional bond between the subjects. Diana’s work is uplifting. The painting asks: How bright can we shine, when we love the earth and each other?
Have you any plans this weekend?
Keith paints documentary images focused on sharing stories through art. Mixing autobiography and personal encounters with compelling responses to current events and common experiences, Keith’s paintings are truly of our time. You idiots talked me into this is just one of Keith’s multi-figure paintings that places people in relation to one another. Heading to a local concert on the weekend is simultaneously a memory that we hold dear and a lifestyle that many are eager to reclaim. The softly painted stylistic rendering of the piece allows the depicted scene to exist in a middle-space between reality, memory, and a dream.
These works are available at #TOAF61!
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