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Canadian Art’s Picks from the Art Toronto Preview

There are more than 113 exhibitors representing artists at this year’s Art Toronto fair, which kicks off today at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Here, members of our editorial team offer their best bets on what to see at Canada’s largest contemporary and modern art fair.

Andréanne Godin at Galerie Nicolas Robert’s Booth (S04)

The Belgo Building has long been stop ONE on any art trip to Montreal, and a highlight there over the past four years has been Galerie Nicolas Robert. With artists like Lorna Bauer, Simone Rochon, Christian Knudsen and Robert Houle, the gallery meshes established and emerging artists. At Art Toronto this year, the gallery presents emerging artist Andréanne Godin, a 2013 master’s grad from Concordia University. With graphite powder on paper, Godin makes the most ethereal landscape drawings. Each one is spurred by a growing list of collaborators who describe personal landscape moments for the artist. The participatory aspect gives the project a contemporary frisson, but the blurred delicacy of the drawings is what holds attention. Each image is a metaphor for our distanced but affectionate relationship with nature. A series of accompanying trees finely carved into blocks of graphite encapsulates the metaphor in three dimensions. One only wants to see more. – Richard Rhodes, editor

Nadia Myre at Art Mûr’s Booth (C38)

There are always discoveries to be made on the walls of Art Toronto, but one of the great pleasures for me is the opportunity to see first-hand the work of key Canadian contemporary artists whose exhibition presence in the city’s art galleries and institutions is otherwise all too rare. A case in point is Montreal artist and 2014 Sobey Art Award winner Nadia Myre. Since the early 2000s, Myre has been refining a multi-layered practice that centres on collective acts of healing and the retaking of control over the often generational trauma of history. Her recent Orison series of large-scale prints, for example, depicts the back-stitching from panels in her landmark Indian Act (2000–03) project, in which Myre and more than 200 collaborators meticulously beaded over printed pages from the official government document. It’s the hidden evidence of an act of subversion against a genocidal legacy of assimilation and colonialism, but also a poetic testament to the strength of connective threads that ultimately bind that resistance together. – Bryne McLaughlin, managing editor

Kent Monkman at Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain’s Booth (C22)

This year, Montreal’s Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain has created a 600-square-foot, open-concept micro museum, and one of its treasures is Kent Monkman’s delectably perverse Danaë Receiving the Golden Rain. The work glistens, and not least because it depicts a cascade of golden coins being showered from the sky onto Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, Monkman’s alter ego, who is alone but for a peeping-Tom stag in a forest glade, resting supine on a mossy rock—though we can surmise from her arched back and sucked-in stomach that she is wise to our gaze. Her performed pose nods to Alexandre-Jacques Chantron’s 1891 painting of the mythological figure, except that Monkman’s Danaë has a body sculpted by Nautilus and six-inch black patent-leather stilettoes designed by Christian Louboutin. The painting is an allegory for the violation of Indigenous bodies and lands by European settlers, as well as a critique of exploitation made possible by financial coercion. Displayed at an art fair, it’s especially spunky. – Rosie Prata, copy editor

Tim Pitsiulak at Feheley Fine Arts’s Booth (C05)

Artists often scramble to use the latest and greatest technology as soon as it hits shelves. As I write this, Douglas Coupland is literally travelling around the country and 3-D scanning volunteers in department stores. This, in part, makes Tim Pitsiulak’s MY NEW GO PRO HERO 4 lovely and unusual. He doesn’t use a GoPro to make the work, but, in the simplest way, Pitsiulak captures the obsession with new gadgets qua gadgets. It seems deeply familiar to how I, at the very least, experience the arrival of a new phone or laptop or camera: a pure captivation with this thing, this object. Pitsiulak deftly captures a seabed scene with a disembodied GoPro floating in the upper corner of the water above a bed of tawny foliage. Of course, it’s all recorded from a distant, underwater vantage point—cheekily undermining the camera’s entire function in the process. – Caoimhe Morgan-Feir, interim online editor

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