Stephan Balkenhol toronto

Toronto's newest public art piece is weirding people out

A 25-foot-tall, expressionless man holding a skyscraper in his arms atop a pile of colourful cubes now looms over his own patch of concrete in Toronto.

Rooted firmly in front of the Desjardins Insurance building on St. Clair West between Avenue Rd. and Yonge St., the man has no name.

He is made of painted bronze and stainless steel, his creator is acclaimed German sculptor Stephan Balkenhol, and he was commissioned by the companies behind the forthcoming Imperial Village master planned community.

That's pretty much the extent of what's known about the eerie-looking giant who popped up in front of 101 St. Clair this past weekend.

A placard installed near the statue from developers Camrost Felcorp Inc. and the Desjardins Group explains that the piece — Balkenhol's first ever public art commission in Canada — was chosen by a panel of arts professionals and local residents "following a rigorous international search."

"The committee selected the Balkenhol piece as it embodies the present moment in the city's evolution and invites deep contemplation," the placard reads.

It certainly does invite contemplation, if reaction to the piece is any indication.

"Looks like the developer Harry Stinson. The toy blocks represent his first business, Hatter's Tea Party, a kids party room," guessed one person on Twitter in response to a photo of the work. "The tower is perhaps his doomed Sapphire Tower proposal. One more white guy statue. Toronto can do better."

"Bland corporate cog of a white guy jealousy clutching glass and steel architecture, while precariously standing astride an assortment of coloured building blocks," ventured another. "Yeah, sounds like Toronto to me."

Others still are calling the piece an eyesore, saying that it's "terrible" but somehow fitting.

"The most honest art installation in the city," commented one observer.

"It's creepy and weird," wrote another. "But it does represent Toronto very accurately."

Touché.

Lead photo by

Ben Harrison


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