Meta Gallery Toronto Mars 1

Meta Gallery opens on Mars

Describing abstract art is never an easy task. This duty is further compounded by the latest contemporary collection on display at the freshly-moved and reopened Meta Gallery. Finding its new resting grounds in the former Rolly's Garage space on Ossington, Meta opened its doors (I mean sliding garage door) for its latest (and somewhat inaugural) exhibition, Infinite Tapestry. The collection comes from San Francisco-based artist Mars-1 (Mario Martinez).


Meta Gallery - known for its love of "visionary" art; be it graffiti, painting, sculpture, photography - won't let down its tribe of loyal followers with this collection of hyper-abstract, fantastical and slightly surrealist art. Putting a string of words together to "describe" Mars-1's evocative, yet indecipherable art is foolhardy, but here we go nevertheless.

Mars-1 Meta Gallery

The pinnacle of the new installment - Transcendence - is a 4 by 9 foot abstract colour explosion. Like a lot of his work, this acrylic on canvas monster is as much otherworldly as it is intricate. With the scents of fresh paint and newly-placed drywall lingering, one could stand fixated on Transcendence for, well, as long as it takes paint to dry. Shapes, colours, styles, and influence collide haphazardly, but on purpose. (Like I said, describing this work is tiring.)

Mars1 Meta Gallery

The "Infinite Tapestry" line, which was completed this year, digresses from the colour blasts for a more minimalist approach. It showcases an evolving style. The three paintings on black painted wood display various white bubbly, spherical forms. Representative of the collection, everything is left to interpretation. (Shape-shifting white amoeba in space came to mind for me.)

Breaking the barriers of just paint, Meta Gallery also showcased three of Mars-1's bronze sculptures. These little fellas were attention-grabbing. Each a little different than the last - Electric Monkeyman is finished with black patina; Pineal Man with green patina; Smokestacks with gold patina - each unearthly creature has an industrial feel. Beautifully sculpted and near flawless, these little fellas only further illustrate Mars-1's versatility and progressiveness.

Mars 1 Meta Gallery

Chatting with Meiko Kanamoto, Meta's gallery manager, she noted that the opening night a week ago brought out a solid mix of Toronto's art followers. "It's not the typical Queen West crowd where everyone is young," she said of the diverse crowd. Many that followed Meta Gallery when they were harboured in the Distillery District also came out.

As the new open space is still being finalized - they are planning on putting a meeting room upstairs and an office in the back, and maybe utilizing the driveway space out front - the Ossington art galleries and business owners have dropped by to show their support. Meta is also hopping to hold events in the space in the coming months, seeing that it is in line with Meta's mission.

Gazing at Transcendence, I asked Kanamoto to take a stab at putting Mars-1's art into words. After a pause, she remarked: "I find it organic in the way he uses colours. There's just something spectacular about the way he puts depth and colour into his pieces."

Well put.

The Infinite Tapestry exhibition will be opened until April 25. For more information, visit

Mars 1

Writing and Photography by Ryan Bolton.

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