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10 Must-See Art Exhibitions in Toronto, Spring 2017

Picture of Emily Paskevics
Emily Paskevics
Updated: 21 March 2017

The art scene in Toronto is a reflection of the city itself: diverse and ever evolving. While the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) might be considered the core of the city’s artistic past and present, there are numerous smaller contemporary galleries to be explored across the city. Whether you’re into photography, painting, or multimedia experiences, spring 2017 offers a diversity of powerful art exhibitions in Toronto.

Maria Hupfield and Kapwani Kiwanga (January 28–May 14)

Down at the Harbourfront, the Power Plant has become one of Toronto’s most recognized contemporary art galleries. This spring, the Power Plant  is hosting two solo exhibits: Maria Hupfield: The One Who Keeps On Giving deals with humans’ relationships to everyday objects, and Kapwani Kiwanga: A wall is just a wall explores the power of disciplinary architecture.

The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, 231 Queens Quay W, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416 973 4949

Does the oyster sleep? (March 10–April 15)

Does the oyster sleep? aims to resolve the tension “between shared interest and individual desire, imagining how they can be linked through a common longing to live differently in the world.” This multimedia exhibition at Gallery TPW features the varied work of Sophie Bissonnette, Martin Duckworth, Joyce Rock, Maja Borg, Marguerite Duras, Sara Eliassen, Silvia Gruner, and Waël Noureddine.

Gallery TPW, 170 St Helens Ave, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416 645 1066

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Alternative Histories (March 11–April 17)

This month and next, Division Gallery in the Junction will showcase a collective exhibition featuring the work of Nicolas Baier, Patrick Coutu, Manon De Pauw, Miruna Dragan, Alex McLeod, John Monteith, and Charles Stankievech. With their scientifically and technologically varied works, Alternative Histories investigates “the way in which knowledge is discursively and aesthetically constructed.”

Division Gallery, 45 Ernest Ave, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 647 346 9082

Shuvinai Ashoona, Curiosities (March 11–April 8)

The Feheley Fine Arts gallery, now located near King Street East, features diverse Inuit art and is one of the last remaining galleries in the world devoted exclusively to traditional and contemporary art from the Canadian Arctic. This spring, it is exhibiting Curiosities, the colorful and symbol-rich pencil drawings of Shuvinai Ashoona. Janet Kigusiuq and her Contemporaries II will also be showcased later in the season (May 13–June 10, 2017).

Feheley Fine Arts, 65 George St, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416 323 1373

Shoveling Worlds, by Shuvinai Ashoona (2013) | © Feheley Fine Arts / WikiCommons

Shoveling Worlds, by Shuvinai Ashoona (2013) | © Feheley Fine Arts / WikiCommons

Live Longer, Piss Off Your Heirs (March 22–April 2)

Propeller Gallery in in the West Queen West area will host its 20th annual guest exhibition. This year’s Live Longer, Piss Off Your Heirs is curated by Olga Korper and Taiga Lipson from artist submissions.

Propeller, 30 Abell St, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416 504 7142

Prototype (April 6–29)

In April, Urban Gallery will showcase the text-based paintings of Canadian artist Colin Nun in Prototype, a solo exhibition that explores the representation of language with bold typographic patterns.

Urban Gallery, 400 Queen St E, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 647 460 1278

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Free Black North (April 29–August 20)

In partnership with the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, the Free Black North exhibition at the AGO will display rare photographs of Ontarian descendants of 19th-century slave refugees from the American South. The exhibition aims not only to showcase the photography of black Canadian communities but also to uncover more history: “There is little known about many of the subjects or the photographers of these works, but the AGO hopes that by putting them on display, perhaps more information will come to light.”

Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON, Canada,+1 416 979 6648

Size Matters (March 11–August 20)

Organised by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, the exhibition, Size Matters showcases the work of photographer Finn O’Hara and painter Steve Driscoll for their public art gallery debut. A visual commentary on the conflicts of modern Canadian landscape painting, their images form “moments of intervention on landscapes that are sharply foreign to the production and even subject matter of the paintings themselves.” For example, a forested portage route joins pedestrians on Queen Street West, and a multi-paneled waterfall contrasts commerce towers in Edmonton.

McMichael Canadian Art Collection, 10365 Islington Ave., Kleinburg, ON, Canada, +1 905 893 1121

Anishinaabeg: Art & Power (opens June 17)

This spring, Anishinaabeg: Art & Power at the Royal Ontario Museum will trace the artistic development of one of the most populous and diverse Indigenous communities in North America over the past 200 years. The exhibit will explore the beauty and power of the Anishinaabeg artistic tradition from early intricate beaded regalia to drawings and paintings from the Woodlands School art movement.

Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queens Park, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416 586 8000

The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto | © Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine

The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto | © Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine

Tony Romano, New Work: 2014–2016

The Clint Roenisch Gallery has established its reputation by showcasing some of the best contemporary art around the city. Catch up on recent work by Toronto-based artist Tony Romano, whose artwork includes sculpture, film, installations, music, and text.

Clint Roenisch Gallery, 190 St Helens Ave, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416 516 8593