toronto painters

The 10 most talked about painters in Toronto right now

Toronto is a city well-known for its painters. Found at top galleries, lofty studios and Kensington hangouts, these workaholics are the talk of the town by word-of-mouth reputation. So who are these fantastical human beings? I asked The Drake Hotel's Head of Cultural Programming, Mia Nielsen, to share her picks.

These along with mine and other notable mentions are below.

Laura Dawe
This self-taught painter, writer, art director and Internet goddess was named "One of the greatest artists of all time," by a fan who commented on one of her Instagram photos. And it's true, Dawe captures a restless 21st-century energy with her dazzling portraits and dreamy entourage. Don't miss her opening show at Likely General on September 8 (6 p.m. - 9 p.m.)

Erin Armstrong
Armstrong is a contemporary figurative artist with a vibrant portfolio of contemporary portraits. Her work has been spotted at Miami Art Basel, AGO and Prince Edward County's Drake Devonshire, with her latest showcase at Kit and Ace (779 Queen Street).

Kris Knight
Go ahead and read "Pretty Boys" by Sasha Chapin. He'll tell you about Kris Knight's penetrating and ethereal portraits, much better than I can.

Caroline Larson
There's a car burning on a cross-stitch. The catch is that the cross-stitch is actually a canvas of thick dabs of oil paint, and you've just been duped by painting perfectionist, Caroline Larson. But don't touch it, you might get burned from the shiny oil beams of the car flames.

Margaux Williamson
Pssst, there's Margaux Williamson and Sheila Heti on West Queen West! Fifteen years after her first exhibit, Williamson still carries the extraordinary allure of a local hero, spotted frequently with BFF and writer, Sheila Heti. So go ahead, buy her book, I Could See Everything, and geek out over this spellbinding artist.

Charles Bierk
Is it a black-and-white photograph or an oil painting? Dividing and conquering his large-scale canvas square by square, Bierk's hyper-real painting style is intriguingly deceiving. Coated with an ambient after-glow, hold eye contact without blinking, and become mesmerized by his eerie portrait collection.

Stephen Andrews
Forget Pitbull, Stephen Andrews is Toronto's unofficial Mr. Worldwide. With work showcased in Scotland, France, Italy, Germany, Brazil, US, and Canada (to name a few), Andrews is a mass-media and analog phenomenon that revels in identity and technology as floating light matter bubbles to the surface of all of his canvases.

Tessar Lo
The world is painted surreal, as artist Tessar Lo paints a dreamy reality of shapes, textures and vivid patterns. Back in 2015, Tessar repainted the stairs of The Drake Underground with a tropical jungle.

Dorian Fitzgerald
What does Stefano Gabbana's yacht, a Faberge egg and a Cartier bracelet all have in common? Toronto-based painter, Dorian Fitzgerad. Well known for his whirling and intricate portrayals of upper-class, Fitzgerald is at the forefront of Canadian art with his flashy, over-the-top depictions of the high life.

Alex Bierk
You can feel the temperature drop in Bierk's spooky paintings, where Kensington, blackout intersections and familiar spots are painted in a shadow of a Gotham City filter. A must-know artist from Canadian Art - there's a serene stillness in his work tied to addiction and recovery.


Who did we miss? Add more painters to the comments.

Image via Charles Bierk

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