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10 artists to check out at the Artist Project 2013

Posted by Kate Fane / February 22, 2013

the artist project torontoTraditionally, art fairs have little to do with artists. Tense gallery owners and dealers display one or two pieces from an artist in their roster without context, and then attempt to explain to the masses just what it is and why it matters. Now in its sixth year, the Artist Project(TAP) subverts the typical art fair format and places the artists themselves within the booths. And with over 200+ artists participating, it's a great way to get acquainted with a full spectrum of styles and skill levels.

the artist project torontoThe show may host independent artists, but it's still a serious production. Organisers Informa Canada, who are responsible for dozens of major conventions across Canada, have made sure that every inch of the exhibition hall that doesn't have art hanging on it still has something for the eye. The fair's opening night was certainly an event, with multiple DJ's spinning crowd-friendly remixes, winding lineups for complementary wine and appetizers, and the lingering smell of tandoori shrimp mingling with that of the fresh paint. There was even an aggressively magenta "Art Lounge" where visitors could relax from the stress of viewing thousands of dollars worth of art with a free birthday cake vodka martini.

the artist project torontoAnd in addition to the almost overwhelming amount of work, this year's TAP also features several themed events: Untapped Emerging Artists is a juried competition that awards young artists a free space at the show (booths are typically paid for), while the Installation Area grants space to several large-scale mixed-media and sculptural works.

the artist project torontoAdmission to the show also grants visitors access to Art Chats, a series of discussions on buying and appreciating contemporary art from speakers like Gallerists Manny Neubacher & Anya Shor, Stephen Bulger, and Canadian Art Managing Editor Bryne McLaughlin.

the artist project torontoIt wasn't long before sensory overload kicked in, but here are nine artists that make a lasting impression at this year's TAP:

Cate McGuire
My absolute favorite from the 2013 exhibition is also one of the easiest booths to miss. McGuire's abstracted architectural collages employ muted colors, but their emotional impact is anything but subdued. With both a BFA from Concordia and a graduate degree in Architecture from UBC, McGuire's thoughtful work blurs the boundaries between the two faculties.

the artist project torontoLaird Kay
Kay's blurred family snapshots of mid-century South Africa hint at the country's impending political turmoil, while more broadly exploring the eerie qualities of nostalgia. Viewing his work is a thoroughly uncanny experience, but it's also endlessly compelling.

Mitchell Clark Meller
As a self-taught artist, Meller's work is filled with emotion and energy, and totally devoid of any formal constraints. Employing layers of acrylic, pastels, pencil, glaze, and even household paint, Meller's pieces have an incredible urgency not seen in the majority of the fair's more commercial offerings.

the artist project torontoNick Chase
TAP skews heavily in favour of painting and photography, but there are a few notable standouts in craft. Chase's delicate floral vases were both striking and completely marketable; a great combo for a populist art fair.

Nissim Benaderet
Tel Aviv-based artist Nissim Benadaret's expressionist line-work was hugely fun. According to Benadarets, his goal is to "create an image that is free from the constraints of logic," while still representing the movement of his actions and thought processes. And as the vast majority of TAP's participating artists are from Toronto, Benadert's pieces are a great insight into more international trends.

the artist project torontoChristine Kim
Kim's meticulous process is fully evident in her final product, as her fine papercuts and pencil portraits require a careful eye to catch all the details. The organic interplay of shadows and light also plays a large role in her work, lending her pieces an almost interactive quality.

Rod Prouse
Last night, every odd-numbered booth seemed to be a rural Ontario landscape, but Rod Prouse's abstracted acrylic works still felt like definite originals. With their icy colour palette and sharply geometric abstraction, Prouse's paintings definitely inverted my expectations of Canadian pastoral painting.

the artist project torontoLana Filippone
Filippone's delightfully twee ceramic pieces are an inventive spin on a traditional medium. And as her selection as one of the artists-in-residence at the Harbourfront Centre confirms, Filippone's pieces are definite crowd-pleasers.

Adrienne Dagg
Dagg's works on oil and canvas all employ a distinct painting style full of vibrant colours and energetic brush strokes, but her subjects' personalities still clearly shine through. A very natural approach to narrative portraiture.

David Brown
A central figure on Toronto's arts scene thanks to his SpeakEasy series, Brown's own encaustic work never ceases to fascinate. Reminiscent of abstract expressionist work, his recent paintings are both visually stunning and emotionally charged. Who knew wax could be so evocative?

The Artist Project runs Friday 12PM - 8PM, Saturday 11AM - 8PM, and Sunday 11AM - 6PM at the Better Living Centre, 195 Princes' Boulevard, Exhibition Place. Ticketing info is available here.

Photos by Brian Chambers



infoplease / February 22, 2013 at 12:45 pm
What's the price range of the artists here?
Moreinfoplease / February 22, 2013 at 02:12 pm
Which artist is the one featured in the first photo at the very top of this article?
Stella / February 22, 2013 at 03:53 pm
Bummed that Stew Jones wasn't on this list. Saw his work last night and loved it! He does oil on canvas and offers really interesting perspectives of the city. He's able to make shadows and alley ways look interesting with pops of colour and urban elements like street car or hydro wires.

I find it strange that you'd feature 10 artists from such a large and talented sampling at TAP13. Everyone has their own taste in art, it would have been interesting to see profiles on the Toronto-based artists leading up to opening night. Lots of great talent at the show, not sure you can narrow it down to 10.
Brian replying to a comment from Moreinfoplease / February 22, 2013 at 04:03 pm
It is Mitchell Clark Meller
Lizz / February 22, 2013 at 04:29 pm
Way to go Nick and Lana!!! your guys work is stunning as always! Can't wait to pop by the show!!! xx
Alison / February 22, 2013 at 04:41 pm
Probably won't get to the show, but well done Lana and everyone!
Abrams / February 22, 2013 at 05:07 pm
Top image is Mitchell Clark Meller. His work is a rare catch.. best in show. Bravo!
Lacey / February 22, 2013 at 06:35 pm
The link to Laird Kay's profile isn't working. It links to Kate McGuire's TAP profile, instead.
Other than that … awesome art! It's a wonderful show, to be sure!
brenda slendel / February 22, 2013 at 07:00 pm
dear blogTO,
you really need to re-think/tool some of your your design/layout. The lead photos are usually the thing that draws a reader to the article and are never identified - not knowing who/what it is is very frustrating.
In this particular article it is difficult to identify which name goes with what work... some artists don't have photos... etc...
think about working on it - I've read a few other comments saying the same thing.
other than that, thanks for the blog!
Deborah replying to a comment from Stella / February 23, 2013 at 08:16 am
Saw Stewart Jones at last years show. Definitley a real talent! Beautiful work..
dawn / February 23, 2013 at 09:35 am
I like the burnt toast painting the best
Raymond / February 23, 2013 at 10:39 am
Great article and I agree - the art this year is better than ever. FYI, the link to Laird Kay's site is incorrect.
tzv / February 25, 2013 at 12:10 pm
It would be if you did a blog post about this event a few days in advance...I missed it.
Amia / February 27, 2013 at 09:43 am
The guy spraypainting ended up being the most interesting thing at this event! anyone know who he was?
film streaming / March 1, 2013 at 08:07 am
A fascinating discussion is worth comment.
I do believe that you should write more on this subject, it might not be a taboo matter but generally people don't talk about such topics. To the next! Many thanks!!
Celeste / March 12, 2013 at 08:29 pm
love this show.....want to be there next year. When is it, and when does app/submission come out? Thanks, CF
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