artist project toronto

The top 5 artists to check out at The Artist Project 2015

This weekend brings the return of The Artist Project, a contemporary art fair that allows artists to sell their work directly to visitors without a gallery or agent middlemen. While in theory the idea seems great for individual artists, be aware that the size of the fair means that there's plenty of forgettable work alongside the gems on display.

A notable exception to this is the Untapped Emerging Artists section, which is a smaller juried competition that features some of the fair's best work. The massive fair can make you feel like you're lost in an Ikea marketplace, but if you wade through the high heeled traffic, there's lots to engage with here.

These are my picks for 5 artists not to miss at this year's Artist Project.

Colleen McCarten

Colleen McCarten
Head down to the "Untapped Emerging Artists" section and you will find these beautiful subtle plays on texture, structure, and shadow by Colleen McCarten (booth U-18). Using fabric and neatly woven into paper with a bit of paint, she creates these monochromatic op-art inspired pieces that have this feeling of brooding folk mysticism.

Dainesha Nigent Palache

Dainesha Nugent-Palache
Dainesha Nugent-Palache's staged portraits (U-7) in urban living situations feel like snapshots of a deadpan woman lost in a dystopian Toronto. She exaggerates certain stereotypical representations of femininity that seems to be a friendly nod to Renee Cox's feminist work but with less anger and more pastiche.

Meaghan Farbridge

Megahan Farbridge
Meghan Farbridge's small, delicate drawings and watercolours (426) have this sweet, teen-dreamy feel complete with innocence and a slight psychedelia. A current ESA student, she is still very young but shows a lot of potential at this early point in her creative development. The colourful "Dream of Tongues" was one of my highlights from the entire fair.

Peter Chan

Peter Chan
Peter Chan's (418) misty, meditative paintings feel like long, friendly hugs in oil paint. Inspired by Bernini's sculpture Ecstasy of St Teresa, the faces or figures with hands around them that he paints feel intimate but not invasive. The execution and colour scheme he uses have an eerie glow to them that reminds a bit of Kris Knight, but feels more na誰ve in a good way.

George Boyer

George Boyer
With so much over-stylized, glossy, uber varnished works at the fair, it was a breath of fresh air to see George Boyer's (134) relaxed, contemplative landscapes. Not every artist needs to be avant-garde, and his work definitely feels familiar, but it remains intriguing. His "Vista Dome," taken while on the Trans Canada Railway, feels nostalgic without being overdone -- think Canadian-realism without the cheesy cottage feel.

The Artist Project runs from Feb 19-22 at the Better Living Centre at the Exhibition place. For more information go to

Correction: An earlier version of this post implied that the Artist Project is not a juried art fair when in fact it is. The erroneous copy has been updated.

Writing by Irene Dongas / Photos by Natta Summerky

The lead image features Hoda Zarbaf's "Vaginal Rapture"

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