Report on: Art Toronto 2012: Focus Asia.

Art Toronto was a classy event held October 6th to the 29th. While all kinds of attendees were welcome to examine the displayed masterpieces, it was free of rowdy cosplayers and more suited to analytical aficionados of abstract. Using the north building of the Metro Toronto Convention Center, it was a tour of sublime thought and precision-crafted creativity.

For coverage of last year’s Art Toronto, click here.

The theme for this year was “Focus Asia,” however only a small amount of floor space was dedicated to specifically Asia – this was still a show focusing on the whole world. Pieces from South America and Europe and Africa were all present and speaking the universal language of visual stimuli. Of course, there was still heavy representation from Canadian artists. Each of the hundreds of exhibits had their own curator there to explain the pieces to observers.

The presented pieces were a solid departure from the art that typically adorns the walls of every comic shop – most of the pieces instead pushed the limits of stylistic presentation. The whole experience was a demonstration of diversity and variety. While I love superheroic pin-ups, the comic industry will always benefit from occasional academic experimentation with departures from the rules of Dan Jurgen’s or Ed Bene’s artwork. Of course, some pieces did evoke superheroic notions. Themes like rampant patriotism, cosmic disconnection, and hostile science are as prominent concepts in the world’s galleries as they are in Marvel 616. I would hope that comic publishers have scouts at events like these to find potential new cover artists.

While paintings are the foundation of any traditional art show, so many of them start to blend together and attention is drawn to the pieces with literal depth. Constructions were assembled from props and household items or forged from the raw elements of the universe. And regardless of material, everything was for sale, although the prices on some of the pieces were higher than the combined prices of several anime convention artists’ entire booths.

Several schools have organized field trips to Art Toronto so the students can get a look at the world of art, which is a great idea since it allows students to experience the world of contemporary art as viable career.

While Toronto’s artistic credibility was proven weeks ago with the gigantic urban party that was Nuit Blanche, Art Toronto is a refined event with art that is presented to be studied instead of just passively experienced. While the weather was sour and there might not have been enough seating space, it was an engrossing experience to any art critic or casual observer. Last year I speculated that the event would be better with company, a theory I verified this year.

But the biggest problem with the event is that it fell on the Saturday before Halloween. Next year, instead of spending my day’s energy looking at abstract sculptures, I might instead conserve it for a Halloween costume party in the evening. But I’m still looking forward to what the organizers, Informa (formerly MMPI), do for The Artist Project in the spring.

For other similar upcoming events in the Greater Toronto Area, check the TdotComics Calendar. If you know of any event that’s unlisted, please let us know.

-Michael Ryan, October 31st 2012

Also, there were quite a lot of artworks of naked people.

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Report on: Art Toronto 2013