Closing the decade with an art-filled year! Part 1

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I don’t remember having been this knee deep into seeing art, producing art and making art in such a full cycle and as intense as this year.

I thought it is best to capture these memories at the end of the decade here to remember inspiring experiences and to share with you a snippet of these discoveries.

I closed the year, fulfilled, by creating a new body of work for my new show, quiet vignettes, part of DesignTO Festival. I will tell you more about it soon.

My passion has been, for the past fifteen years, to bring audiences and artists together to share moments of joy, engagement and stimulation that happens through creative exchange. Leading Toronto Outdoor Art Fair continues to be an enriching, intense and rewarding endeavour that fulfills that passion.
This year also unusually was filled with visits to some major art events like the Venice Biennale, Frieze New York , The Other Art Fair and discovery of new museum gems, great exhibitions and performances (a separate post on that will follow). There was no shortage of incredible works of art, old and new,  jaw dropping, beautiful, thought provoking as well as works that I wanted to take home with me to keep forever (which we did!).

So here are my selected highlights of 2019 art adventures.

Venice Biennale – May You Live In Interesting Times 

Visiting Venice Biennale was one of those bucket-list wishes that came true this summer.  Two full days was barely enough to scratch the surface and to take it all in. I feel I missed a lot of important works but still captured some moments that has stayed with me since. 

It’s impossible to list everything that inspired me or highlight the works I saw. There is a catalogue for that written by professionals :-). For me, Venice Biennale filled was filled with intellectual, social and political work and most of them required focused attention, reading statements and deep engagement which is hard to achieve when you are visiting with little kids. I was at first overwhelmed by the task of reading about the works for context and thought I won’t get what I need from the experience. However, to my surprise the work descriptions, the curatorial and artist statements were written in such clear, simple and engaging language that made the viewer more curious about the artists and their intent. 

I sometimes get weary of reading artist statements that are dense, heavy and intelligent sounding at the expense of making the audience feel unintelligent.  If the work is great and connects with my heart that’s ok and I can dig more into it but that’s not often the case. I caught myself trying to read every single statement throughout the show and I even managed to explain them in a simpler language for the little ones and they made their own connections in their own way. The experience was stimulating and inspiring and I left with a great deal of food for thought.

Here are some of the works that has stayed with me. 

Carol Bove – I don’t know how many times I went back and looked at Carol Bove’s sculptures! 

This is what’s told about her work:  The formal syntax of Carol Bove is bends, dents, twists, torques, kinks, crumbles, creases, and other folds that animate the sculptural surface. No wonder why! I love folds and creases 🙂

 Mari Katayama’s intricate and invigorating self-portraits just mesmerized me. 

Loved this painting of roots of bamboo groves and trees that were entangled with garbage by Handiwirman Saputra and his equally captivating sculptural installation.

One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk by Isuma artist collective at Canada Pavilion is captivating and eye opening. We only got to see 30 minutes of it there but plan to watch it on

Nordic Countries (Finland – Norway – Sweden) Pavilion, Weather Report: Forecasting Future

Personal stories of Njideka Akunyili Crosby in these captivating Collage and photo transfer-based paintings

Jill Mulleady’s moody seemingly everyday paintings are haunting.

Nairy Baghramian body-like, fragmented curvy sculptures were love at first sight! 

Poland’s pavilion featured a real inside-out aeroplane! “Flight” by Roman Stańczak was an instant hit with the kids! Not sure if that was their target audience but hey get them curious when they are young 🙂 

And this piece: Flesh in Stone by Yu Ji!

sun yuan and peng yu works are jaw-dropping and somehow intense. can’t help myself and present dear were two of  the most monumental and visceral works that had a lasting impact on all of us especially the little ones. Click on the links for proper images and videos.

And the last memorable moment was the loud and fun design of this cafe (minus the impatient and grumpy service).