underpassproject Bloor Lansdowne

The Underpass Project

The bleak Bloor underpass just west of Lansdowne is sporting a whole new look, thanks to Toronto artist Richard Mongiat. The Underpass Project is sponsored by the City of Toronto's Clean & Beautiful committee, but Mongiat's 400-foot minimalist mural is very different from the super-bright "cover-ups" I'm used to seeing in city murals.

Underpass Project Richard Mongiat


I talked with Mongiat at Saturday's first annual BIG festival. He says he originally conceived the concept for the Dupont underpass, but he was convinced by local artist & activist Dyan Marie of DIG IN to create the mural to coincide with BIG. The change in location meant that Mongiat had to rethink his original idea, but he was obviously pleased that he'd finished the mural in time (he was still working on the last touches on Thursday).

"These frames," he says, pointing to the raised rectangles within the wall, "set up the design elements." Mongiat found his inspiration in the barren trunks of winter trees. "Like this neighbourhood," he says, "dormant but coming to life."

underpass project Bloor Lansdowne


There are four visual elements at play here: three from Mongiat--grey tree trunks, white wallpaper-inspired sworls, and close-ups of spring buds--and a fourth, surprisingly active element--the worn concrete of the underpass itself. "By keeping my work muted, black, white, grey, the wall really came through," says Mongiat with pride. "Now, the weather, the rain stains become part of the design. The wall comes alive."


Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in Arts

Man in Toronto does gravity-defying dance routine on the TTC

Toronto park is getting a huge rooster from Portugal

Toronto's waterfront is getting a beautiful pastel arch that will transport you to other worlds

Meet the proprietor of Toronto's coolest comics store

This colour photo series shows how much Toronto has changed since the 1980s

Someone in Toronto is selling cartoons of local neighbourhood people

Toronto is getting a socially distanced outdoor show in the heart of downtown

Here's how Toronto bookstores are really doing during lockdown