Tag Archives: contemporary art

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ALLEN SHUGAR OPENS HIS SOLO SHOW AT URBAN GALLERY, TORONTO

Usually the curator for other artists’ shows, ALLEN SHUGAR was proud to present his own work at Urban Gallery (400 Queen East, Toronto) last night for the opening of his month-long show titled SHIFTING LIGHT. Allen is joined here by gallery director, Calvin Hambrook (below L) in front of his title artwork (lower photo)20170907_164910(0) AllenShugar_SHIFTING_LIGHT400Each stunning piece illustrates how light shifts when viewing from different vantage points and I particularly liked the play of light on leaves in this painting (below) appropriately titled “Goldleaf”.20170907_164502In fact, lots of gallery visitors loved these works – within half an hour of opening the gallery doors, the room was packed with Allen’s friends, family and fans.20170907_180622 20170907_175316I managed to grab Allen for a quick interview before the party was in full swing and asked him about his show….

As you can tell, Allen is very passionate about art, the painter’s process and working as the curator for Urban Gallery. Below, Allen greeted many friends who came out to support him…20170907_19082220170907_173655….and several fellow artists dropped by including Grace Dam (below) whose shows Allen has previously curated…20170907_182305…and Romi Samuels (below) who hopes to bring a show of her work to the gallery in the near future.20170907_184401Here’s award-winning artist Erik Chong (below with his wife, Jeannette) whose shows Allen has also curated over the past few years.20170907_191308Allen showcased 3 smaller framed pieces (reverse painting on glass) and my favourite one was quickly snapped up by this lovely lady.20170907_191204 20170907_164314So many gorgeous pieces…you must visit the gallery to see for yourself!20170907_184325 20170907_170622 20170907_171732And of course, the refreshments were works of art, too, courtesy of Urban Source Catering20170907_164657 20170907_165202(0)

Artist statement:
Colour, light, the cycles of nature (so extreme in our climate), the beauty of the human form – these are the subjects that inspire my paintings. Naturalistic representation has never much interested me. I take, rather, a transformative approach that seeks to capture a purely subjective experience, a state of mind, an evanescent thought. In this respect, my work owes as much to musical and literary influences as it does to visual stimuli. My aim is to suggest the extraordinary that lies just beneath the surface of the ordinary.  – Allen Shugar

SHIFTING LIGHT – Paintings by Allen Shugar
Exhibition dates: September 7 to September 30, 2017
Gallery hours & directions:   www.UrbanGallery.caSTILLNESS oil on canvas Allen Shugar

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ARTUSIASM ART GALLERY OPENS “SUMMERFEST 2017″ GROUP SHOW IN TORONTO

How nice to walk into an art gallery and be met with such warmth and welcoming hospitality – artist Tanzina Amin and her husband Carlos Sa Rodrigues of ARTUSIASM GALLERY located at 1684 St Clair West, Toronto, were the perfect hosts last night as they opened their “Summerfest 2017″ group show featuring works by local artists in multiple mediums.20170616_192040 20170616_192439 20170616_191829I was pleased to introduce fellow gallery owner and artist Lola Livingston of Stockyards Gallery to Tanzina and Carlos, who welcomed the opportunity of sharing “stories from the trenches” of operating an art gallery in the city. Here’s Lola (pictured below L) with Tanzina and Carlos…all smiles as they celebrate another successful opening!20170616_192609 20170616_192552I love Tanzina’s bold abstract portraits…she works with a bright and colourful palette and I would love to add one of these stunning paintings to my own modest collection.20170616_194138 20170616_194151 20170616_194156I spied so many more exciting works….there was a style and technique for every taste and I hope to see lots of “red dots” denoting sales when I visit again. Check out these delicate watercolours (below) and the florals, too.20170616_192017

Constellation by Leslie Karen Hall

Constellation by Leslie Karen Hall

Peach Coloured Rose by Lowell Lo

Peach Coloured Rose by Lowell Lo

…..and these Aspen trees by Leah Dockrill kept drawing me back. It was as if they were alive and I could almost hear the rustling of their leaves!20170616_193855Tanzina and Carlos always make sure gallery visitors are well fed and watered at their opening events….the home-made samosas are deelish20170616_191850Artist and gallery regular Linda Deramaix strikes a pose (below) underneath her own artwork titled “Resilience”. Nice to see you again, Linda!20170616_191951So many difference pieces to stimulate your artistic senses….20170616_193843 20170616_194057 20170616_192020…and lots of artwork to provoke conversation….20170616_194543Summerfest 2017 runs to the end of this month (June) and I recommend you drop in on Tanzina and Carlos to enjoy all the beautiful works (all of which are affordable and are looking for new forever homes!) by talented local artists. Artusiasm Gallery is located at 1684 St Clair Ave West and you can learn more about their services, hours & artists at:  www.artusiasm.com20170616_194820

 

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URBAN GALLERY LAUNCHES ITS ANNUAL PRIDE GROUP SHOW IN TORONTO

What a wonderful showcase of multi-media artworks from four talented Toronto-based artists from the LGBT community!!  Congratulations to URBAN GALLERY and its curator Allen Shugar, for presenting an outstanding exhibition of paintings, text-based graphics, digital and acrylic on canvas art celebrating this year’s annual PRIDE month.  I got there nice and early and had the gallery to myself to record a quick video walk-around:

The first artist to arrive at the gallery was the charming Eugene Nam whose striking large format acrylic-on-canvas works were both powerful and beautiful. The textural quality of his work was such that I wanted to reach out and touch the brushstrokes…..but I resisted!20170610_135912 20170610_134428 20170610_134503 20170610_134610Eugene came to Toronto a few years ago from S. Korea, via San Francisco. I asked him why he left the city by the bay to come all the way to Toronto and he told me….  In South Korea, our sexual identity must be kept hidden – homosexuality is not openly tolerated. As soon as I could, I left and went to the U.S. to pursue my passion for painting but once I heard of Toronto’s attitude of acceptance and inclusion, I knew that’s where I belonged. Since arriving, I have felt such freedom to live, love and create. I’m so happy to participate in Urban Gallery’s showcase so I can share my feelings with you all through my work.  20170610_135902(0)The next artist to arrive was TV and commercial producer Barbara Zumer whose love of creative writing and words she now showcases in her art.20170610_134402 20170610_140527One of Barbara’s pieces is actually printed on a mirror so I had a bit of fun with it…just so happens I recently had my hair done so the message is very appropriate, don’t you think?  LOL20170610_134358I was definitely pulled towards the digital anime-like images created by the very tall Jeffrey Mason (below).20170610_140557(0)His whimsical and wild illustrations of cat-like pop culture icons created quite the stir – people chuckled as they gazed at the instantly recognizable references…20170610_13410020170610_134111_001 Jeffrey also published a book of his work and copies were quickly snapped up by gallery visitors.20170610_140616Former digital producer and part-time teacher at Centennial College, Hank Blondeau (below) is exhibiting some pretty striking images….20170610_14184220170610_134133…below is Hank’s pair of huge digital art prints titled Lightimage Left and Lightimage Right20170610_134203 20170610_141830Do these stripes make me look thin?20170610_144201There was something for every taste in art and I must say, it’s one of my favourite shows in recent months.20170610_140814 20170610_141723 20170610_140824 20170610_140958 20170610_141649Even the catering, courtesy of Urban Source Catering, looked like works of art…and it all tasted simply delicious!20170610_135023 20170610_135027 20170610_135032 20170610_135038 20170610_135043 20170610_135055(0) 20170610_135101 20170610_135113(0)The PROUD ART show runs until June 30th and I encourage you to visit in person to view all of the above and more.  URBAN GALLERY is located at 400 Queen St East, Toronto – just East of Parliament St.  www.urbangallery.ca

But hurry…the art is selling quickly. Jeffrey’s Bunny Sushi already has a red dot on it!!20170610_141958

 

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HANGING PAINTINGS WITH JOHNY DELUNA

25+ large paintings were hung at the Art Square Gallery last night – Toronto contemporary artist JOHNY DELUNA is getting ready for his Thursday (June 8, 6-9pm) opening reception of his solo show “Spontaneous Levitation” so I spent some time with him as he measured and moved, then measured again all his spectacular works. I snapped a few pics of close-up details (see below) from several of his paintings which illustrate the textural quality of his work with raised dots of paint with multiple colours – very hard to achieve and extremely time-consuming.20170605_190559 20170605_190611 20170605_182852And I love some of the mythical creatures and people who dance across the canvases….20170605_183058 20170605_183111 20170605_192137And who doesn’t love galloping giraffes (below) in a windswept land and seascape?20170605_182830As Johny was busy up the ladder, a young man came in obviously intrigued with what was going on…he was soon chatting with Johny about the paintings and the stories behind each one.20170605_191657 20170605_192400Hopefully you are also intrigued and will join Johny at Art Square Gallery, 334 Dundas St West, Toronto (opp. the Art Gallery of Ontario) this Thursday Jun.8th 6-9pm. Spontaneous Levitation runs until June 19th so if you can’t make it this week, you have another week to catch these wild and provocative paintings.

Here are some of the comments from Johny’s previous solo art show….come add your own observations and kudos.20170605_192001 20170605_192032_001 20170605_192048

 

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TORONTO ARTIST JOHNY DELUNA READY TO LAUNCH SOLO SHOW “SPONTANEOUS LEVITATION” THIS THURSDAY

With a final few brushstrokes left and the selection of which painting goes where on the gallery walls, Toronto contemporary artist JOHNY DELUNA is just a few days away from launching his exciting new solo show, “Spontaneous Levitation”, at the Art Square Gallery, 334 Dundas St West (opp. the AGO).

I caught up with Johny over the weekend and asked him to share some last-minute thoughts on his new show….

As your solo show, Spontaneous Levitation, draws closer, how many new works of art will be represented at the show?  I will be showing about 10 new works from this year and about 15 works from prior years.img442From where have you drawn inspiration for these new canvases?  The genesis of most paintings starts with one small event or observation My inspirations come from observations of the human condition.  I try to depict the fragility of our lives, the unusual effects of random events, the consequences of our behavior.  It seems that issues rarely disappear they simply re-emerge in a modified form. I want to articulate these ideas in a new and fresh way, so I let the work express itself intuitively. Sometimes I don’t recognize the finished piece as mine. (No Free Lunch, below).No Free Lunch 36x48Can you share the story behind one or two of these new masterworks? The piece titled Eating Spaghetti With Scissors (below) is based on our need to add unnecessary complexity to our lives. Perhaps this complexity gives us comfort, the feeling that our life is richer and better.  I think we mistake motion with progress and quantity with quality.  When we can’t answer an important question with a straight answer, we fake it with circuitous logic. We vigorously defend this opinion with a mind numbing jumble of half baked ‘truths’, opinions, rumors and petty biases. We end up ‘going to the wall’ defending these opinions; opinions that that we don’t fully understand ourselves.Eating Spaghetti With Scissors acrylic on canvas 34 x 48What would you like gallery visitors to come away with after viewing your work?  I hope people will find the show to be very fresh, humorous and thought-provoking.  I hope the works will speak to each person in their own way. I hope visitors will encourage their friends to visit the show as well.art squCome meet Johny at his opening reception and view his provocative large-format paintings (acrylic on canvas) this Thursday June 8th (6-9pm) at Art Square Gallery, 334 Dundas St West, Toronto. Show runs until June 19th.

 

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INTRODUCING CANADIAN CONTEMPORARY ARTIST JOHNY DELUNA

I recently met contemporary Canadian artist JOHNY DELUNA (below) whose colourful large acrylic-on-canvas paintings both inspire and intrigue me. He has a solo exhibition this summer (June 5-19) at the Art Square Gallery (opposite the AGO) in Toronto, and I wanted to give art fans an early heads-up so they do’t miss his extraordinary work. xxheadshotjohn1jpgI recently had the pleasure of chatting with Johny over a coffee, viewing his portfolio of mostly 3′ x 4′  canvases, each portraying deeper, darker stories beneath the exterior of bright, joyful images.  Every masterwork has been thoroughly thought out, exploring abstract themes in Johny’s riotous palette of primary colours.  I asked him a few questions about his work, his inspirations and the upcoming summer solo show….

You came late to painting professionally – what was your previous career focus and how did that inform your work?  I always loved painting, but couldn’t make a living at it – I needed a decent job to pay the bills.  The urge to paint never left me, but the responsibilities of looking after a family etc. took precedence.  I didn’t return to painting for over 25 years.  Whenever possible I took on projects that had a significant creative component.  I worked on a wide variety of projects including scientific film production, script writing, advertising , marketing and digital product development. However the need to paint was always lurking close to the surface.  I was always a closet painter.

I actually started painting as a child and worked actively on artistic experimentation and exploration until I was about 25. I was untrained so I tried all sorts of things – found materials, melted and painted plastics, wood burning (pyrography), wire sculptures, stone sculptures and acrylic paints. I mostly painted large semi-abstract canvases. I liked the expanses of color and motion.Collateral Damage MARCHWhat has been the main inspiration for your style and colour palette?  The main inspiration for my work is observing the human condition. I try to say things about, happiness, sadness confusion, hypocrisy, ignorance, cruelty, indifference and self delusion. I never put myself above these frailties – but I laugh at my own weaknesses more than I laugh at others. I try to embed my stories deep enough in the paintings so that each viewer can experience them in their own way.art squI was never a great admirer of pointillism; my style of painting was the result of experiments just to get myself painting again. I simply love bright colors – there are no bad ones. They are like kids in a park – laughing, running and playing together.

Dancing in the Dark

Dancing in the Dark

Upon initial viewing, your paintings are full of humour and lightness, however, behind each work there seems to be a darker meaning. Can you explain your artistic interpretations and share one such story from a particular painting?  As I said, my paintings are mostly observations, parables or vignettes. These are the catalysts for the paintings.  I try to present ideas obliquely. This gives me more freedom of expression and a wider visual lexicon to play with.  It also gives the viewer more freedom of interpretation.

I try to entice the viewer into the work through color, energy, humor and curious or bizarre imagery.  Behind all that is the story – the viewer is free to go as deep as they want. I hope everyone see’s the works differently.One of the more oblique works is about learning to accept people for who they are – not who we think they should be. My painting called  I’d Love You If You Were Someone Else (below) for instance, is an argument between a table and a chair.chairYou paint in a contemporary pointillism style in large format – how detailed and time-consuming is this compared with the bold brushstrokes of other artists?  Each artist approaches their work differently. If an artist can create a stunning piece in ten minutes – that’s great. The piece works or it doesn’t no matter how long you labor over it.  My paintings take about 3-5 weeks to complete. I don’t use a brush – I use a simple calligraphy pen and liquid ink. I can only work a few hours at a time – because I can’t focus any more.

Detail from "The Kiss"

Detail from “The Kiss”

Your upcoming solo exhibition is called Spontaneous Levitation – what inspired this title?  Well – Spontaneous Levitation is a bit of a play on the word levity – humour. I hope the show feels fresh, free, and energizing.  img420

At my last show, I met a painter from Brazil. He showed me some photos of his large canvases. They were wonderful. He had injured his shoulder badly in a car accident and had not painted for a number of years. He wandered around the show for about half an hour. On the way out he smiled and shook my hand…“Obrigado,” he said “your work makes me hungry to paint again”.

1457016348What advice would you give to aspiring artists looking to create a life as a professional painter? The only advice I can offer aspiring artists is

  1. Get a day job so you can afford to paint what you want.
  2. Try to be honest and express your inner voice – it’s scary but do it
  3. Open yourself to the unknown – the otherness
  4. Never give up.
"April in New York"

“April in New York”

"Fear of Flying"

“Fear of Flying”

I can’t wait to see Johny’s work in person, hanging on the walls of Art Square Gallery, 334 Dundas St West, Toronto (directly opp. the Art Gallery of Ontario) between June 5 – 19, 2017.  I’ll be posting more details on the show closer to the date so stay tuned.  In the interim, you can follow Johny on Twtr @johnydeluna or visit his website: www.johnydeluna.comThe Usual Suspects

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ANDY WARHOL: REVISITED

It was Saturday afternoon of this long weekend…I was bored, wandering around Yorkville just window shopping and bemoaning the fact that I had no “play money” (it’s rent weekend, big phone & internet bills to pay…blast it) I then suddenly remembered…Warhol! Yes, there’s a pop-up gallery that’s taken over the old Guess boutique space on Bloor St just west of Bay, featuring paintings and prints from the most prolific and important artist of the 60’s and 70’s…Andy Warhol.20150801_143915Most people have seen his “Marilyn Monroe” series at least one time or another and yes, she’s there in all her glory, but there are also many other brilliantly coloured works of art featuring political leaders, royalty and society mavens, as well as his advertising images, paintings of Hollywood divas and cartoon characters…all are represented in the space, thanks to Ron Rivlin’s Revolver Gallery.

One  jaw-dropping image that stopped me in my tracks almost as soon as I walked in was a painting I was not familiar with…Red Lenin (below).  This bright red image looms large over one section of the gallery and I felt pulled right in to his eyes – quite hypnotic.20150801_143644Next to Lenin is this gorgeous Alexander the Great painting (below) which I was also unfamiliar with.

20150801_143652Then there were the socialites, the men who made million$ and spent million$, who supported Andy with commissions and entertained him at chi-chi soirees and Club 54 (below). I surprised myself by recognizing many of the names…then realized how damned old I am that I actually remember who these guys were!!

20150801_143856I had forgotten Andy’s “wild west” series that included Geronimo, Col. Custer, Sitting Bull and “The Duke” who took centre spot on this wall (below). The portrait of Teddy Roosevelt, tho, looked disturbingly like Robin Williams in Night at the Museum but I soon realized just how important an artist Warhol was, considering major movie stars still fashion their on-screen characterizations after his work.

20150801_143843Muhammad Ali was there, as were Judy Garland and Ronald Reagan…even Uncle Sam and the Wicked Witch of the West are on display….

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But for me, the piece de resistance had to be the giant Mickey Mouse portrait….although I’m not a big Disney fan, I had purchased a museum quality print of Warhol’s Mickey back in the early 80’s. There was something very endearing and magical about it and the original didn’t disappoint, with some sparklies in the background paint and his big silly smile -I fell in love all over again with my own Mickey.

20150801_143822As you can see (above), Mickey was in great company surrounded by Aunt Jemima, Howdy Doody and Andy himself!

All hail Her Maj!

All hail Her Maj!

Blue Mao...part of a series of Mao Andy painted in various bright colours. Very provocative at the time.

Blue Mao…part of a series of Mao that Andy painted in various bright colours. Very provocative at the time.

The Revolver Gallery at 77 Bloor St West, Toronto, will showcase these incredible works of art until December 31st, with general admission tickets $10 (Seniors $8, Students and Youth $5) and VIP passes for $30 (lots of perks and return visits incl.). If you love art or simply have a soul(!), you MUST go visit in person.   Tel: 647-347-5355 or www.warholrevisited.com

And a big thank you to Korbin and his crew of knowledgeable art interns who guided me thru the exhibit.

Great gift shop with tons of cool souvenirs

Great gift shop with tons of cool souvenirs

20150801_144040And here’s my very own Warhol poster, purchased during the 1982 Hamburg, Germany, exhibition. He’s freshly dusted off and awaiting a re-hang; now if only I could find some space on my walls….

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For more info on ANDY WARHOL’s work and life, please visit: www.artsy.net/artist/andy-warhol