It’s that time of year again! Art Toronto, Canada’s largest art fair, opens this week and runs from October 26 to 29. The show includes over 100 galleries from across Canada and abroad exhibiting the best of contemporary and historical art at Toronto’s Metropolitan Convention Centre, located in the heart of the downtown core.
Back in full swing will be the opening night gala on the 26th, presented for the first time as a benefit for the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. As the holders of one of the largest Canadian art collections in the country, the McMichael are also the caretakers of over 100,000 Inuit drawings, prints, and sculptures on long-term loan from the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative. Around 4,000 drawings have been digitized and can be accessed through McMichael's virtual collection website, Iningat Ilagiit.
In anticipation of the fair, here’s our shortlist of 2023’s not-to-be-missed booths that feature work by artists across Inuit Nunangat and beyond.
Feheley Fine Arts
Jessica Winters Lichen (Hopedale 2) (2023) Acrylic 76.2 x 76.2 cm COURTESY FEHELEY FINE ARTS © THE ARTIST
Jessica Winters from Makkovik, Nunatsiavut, NL, will be showing a painting with Feheley Fine Arts from her Lichen series. Rendered in incredible detail, these photorealistic paintings of complex lichens place a lens on both the micro and macro—when viewed from afar, they resemble aerial views of the Arctic landscape.
Other highlights at the Feheley booth include a selection of whimsical drawings by Ningiukulu Teevee, the 2023 Kenojuak Ashevak Memorial Award winner, and the debut of a sculptural chess set by artist and Inuit Art Foundation Board Member Michael Massie, CM, RCA, who will be present at the fair on opening night. And this won’t be your ordinary chess set—in typical Massie fashion, each individual piece will be a miniature anthropomorphic teapot.
You’ll also see drawings by artists from Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU, such as Quvianaqtuk Pudlat, Qavavau Manumie, Shuvinai Ashoona, RCA, Saimaiyu Akesuk and Pitseolak Qimirpik, alongside a special treat: a presentation of rare prints by Kenojuak Ashevak, CC, ONu, RCA (1927–2013).
Marion Scott Gallery/Kardosh Contemporary
Megan Kyak-Monteith Self Portrait (2019) Oil 58.4 x 40.6 cm COURTESY MARION SCOTT GALLERY © THE ARTIST
Marion Scott Gallery/Kardosh Contemporary will showcase an impressive line-up of artists who span multiple generations. Highlights include an oil painting by Megan Kyak-Monteith and a collaborative performance-based installation by Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory and Jamie Griffiths. Monteith’s painting Self Portrait (2019) explores the concept of self in relation to medium, memory, community, and identity, while Williamson Bathory and Griffith’s multimedia work White Liar: The Known Shore—anchored by a three-metre-long photograph—confronts colonialism in the Arctic during the Elizabethan Era.
Also on view are works by contemporary artists Shuvinai Ashoona, RCA, Tarralik Duffy, Lindsay McIntyre, and Jamasee Pitseolak, alongside graphics and sculpture by legacy artists Elisapee Ishulutaq, OC (1925–2018), Janet Kigusiuq (1926–2005), Pauta Saila (1916–2009), Nick Sikkuark (1943–2014), and more.
Kablusiak Christopher (2023) Felt and embroidery floss 15.25 x 15.25 cm COURTESY NORBERG HALL © THE ARTIST
For something fun be sure to stop by Norberg Hall’s booth, where you’ll find work by Kablusiak and Tarralik Duffy. From Kablusiak—who was just shortlisted for the Sobey Art Award for the second time—enjoy a new series of 6 x 6 inch emoji wallhangings which playfully pay homage to the longstanding Inuit art of textile-making. Infusing traditional material use and stitching techniques with a contemporary flair, Kablusiak depicts such ubiquitous emojis like tongue-face emoji, upside-down smile emoji, happy tear emoji and many more.
Duffy’s pop-art inspired soft sculpture Ode to Franky (2022) depicts two oversized stuffed dice made from leather. For more works like this, don’t miss Duffy’s two major solo exhibitions: Let’s Go Quick Stop at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, and Gasoline Rainbows at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in Manitoba, both on view now.
Maureen Gruben Aidainnaqduanni, Morning (2020) Archival inkjet 81.3 x 121.9 cmCOURTESY COOPER COLE PHOTO KYRA KORDOWSKI © THE ARTIST
COOPER COLE will be showcasing the work of Inuvialuk artist Maureen Gruben. At the fair, you’ll find photographic work from Gruben’s Aidainnaqduanni series, Inuvialuktun for “we are finally home.” The series documents three deteriorating polar bear rugs that were gifted to Gruben by the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology. The artist then repurposed the rugs into an assemblage stationed on the ice outside of her Tuktuyaaqtuq home—an act that brought the bears home.
Over the course of a week, Gruben documented the gradual changes of the bear rugs which would accumulate ice through the days and nights. The ethereal photograph Aidainnaqduanni, Morning (2020) will be on view with its nighttime counterpart Aidainnaqduanni, Aurora (2020), which documents the bears standing proudly against a stunning backdrop of the aurora borealis.
Shuvinai Ashoona Untitled (148-2598) (2022) Coloured pencil and ink 64.77 x 72.4 cm REPRODUCED WITH PERMISSION DORSET FINE ARTS COURTESY PIERRE-FRANÇOIS OUELLETTE ART CONTEMPORAIN © THE ARTIST
Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain
Montreal’s Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain (PFOAC) will be exhibiting several drawings by Shuvinai Ashoona, RCA, including the exuberant coloured pencil and ink work Untitled (148-2598) (2022). Complete with the distinctive iconography that Ashoona is known for—worlds, fantastical creatures, human figures—the piece is quintessentially her. A second work, Untitled (148-2600) (2022), depicts a skin being prepared using an ulu.
Olga Korper Gallery
Katherine Takpannie Left Shamanism I #2 (2022) Archival ink print 91.4 x 60.9 cm Centre Shamanism II #18 (2022) Archival ink print 91.4 x 91.4 cm Right Shamanism I #2; II #7 (2022) Archival ink print 91.4 x 60.9 cm COURTESY OLGA KORPER GALLERY © THE ARTIST
Olga Korper Gallery will present a new set of photographic from Katherine Takpannie. Coming from her Shamanism series, the work focuses a lens on Inuit cosmology, which Takpannie describes as, “... provid[ing] us with our own knowledge and understanding about the world… Angakkuq (Shamans) were mediators between humans and the world of spirits, animals, and souls.”
And a bonus for Takpannie fans: more of her portrait-based photographic work is on view at the University of Toronto’s Simcoe Hall as part of acknowledging the land, an installation curated by the Art Museum at U of T. For the first time ever, the traditional portraits of figures who shaped the university’s development over decades have been moved aside to make space for work by some of Canada’s most respected Indigenous artists, Takpannie included.