Art Toronto rings in its 13th year from October 26 to 29 with over one hundred exhibiting galleries, a featured curatorial focus on Asian art, and a strong showing of Toronto-based institutions and artist projects.
In fact, the latter suggests a certain cunning provincialism for the Canadian fair. As contemporary Inuit art dealer Pat Feheley puts it, “You have to wonder why you continue to show in your own city. But it always brings returns.”
First staged in Vancouver by founding director Linel Rebenchuk, the fair has grown each year since its relocation to Toronto in 2000. "Uniquely, we form alliances with major Toronto-based institutions, creating opportunities for them to produce their artist projects,” explains Rebenchuk. “It’s what sets us apart. From the very beginning we took our social responsibility very seriously.”
To that end, the Art Gallery of Ontario will feature two of Toronto’s brightest young artists, Geoffrey Pugen and Tibi Tibi Neuspiel (the duo behind "Tie Break," 2010, a reenactment of the historic 1980 borg/Mcenroe Wimbledon tennis final), in a preview-night performance piece that marries athleticism and champagne, and satires its audience as it entertains. Competing against one another in a race based on the film Chariots of Fire, Pugen and Neuspiel will jump hurdles and art objects balancing glasses of champagne. Says Neuspiel, "We thought we would take the opportunity to perform this decadent 'training' in front of a privileged crowd, this art-savvy audience. We're in training to give this our best effort."
The city’s galleries, too, are making a play for visibility. Jessica Bradley Art + Projects is showing work by Shary Boyle, Canada’s 2013 Venice Biennale representative, while Diaz Contemporary and Corkin Gallery should satiate seekers of contemporary abstractions and blue-chip photography, respectively. For Focus Asia, Rebenchuk invited 15 galleries, including Taipei’s Galleria H, Toyko’s MA2, and Seoul’s Wellside, to anchor a section that “will provide some insight,” to the region, he says, with lectures, tours, and a special exhibition curated by Katherine Don and Zheng Shengtian.