8 Emerging Contemporary Artists From Toronto To Know

Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) in Toronto
Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) in Toronto | an Muttoo

Toronto is home to a thriving and dynamic contemporary art scene, with numerous galleries that promote the work of emerging and established artists. Here are eight of the most creative and diverse artists that characterize the city’s art scene.

Olga Klosowski

Olga Klosowski works with drawing and printmaking, with recent forays into sculpture as well. Throughout her work, she focuses on found objects and places or situations of abandonment, while exploring new ways of recording and commemorating the past. Klosowski studied Art and Art History at University of Toronto Mississauga, has received a number of grants and awards and is currently a resident artist at Centre [3] Print Studio in Hamilton.

Heather Cook

Taking inspiration from nature, Heather Cook is a self-taught artist who works with oils and acrylics. She creates animals and plants that range from whimsical to strikingly realistic, finishing many of her pieces with a resin topcoat. She has illustrated two children’s books and also works as a florist.

Sam Pedicelli

Sam Pedicelli works with craft-based media, including beadwork textiles and soft sculpture. In her art she works with small-scale installation that features whimsical figures, which, as described in her artist statement: “The figures re-imagine the daily monotony of life in a metropolitan city as bizarre creatures and caricatures, illustrating strangely familiar scenes that view contemporary culture through both a cynical and comical lens.” A recent OCAD graduate, Pedicelli has been an Artist-in-Residence at Harbourfront Centre since 2015.

Rob Raeside

Rob Raeside is an emerging glass artist who has been exploring this creative medium for six years. Studying at both Sir Sandford Fleming College and Sheridan College, he has worked with highly-regarded Canadian glass artists like Andy Juntz, Paula Vendermey and Sally McCubbin. Describing his work, Raeside has written that he “is driven by the inherent complexities of what appears to be simple, and the constant desire to refine his technique”.

Keight MacLean

Working with oils and acrylic, the work of OCAD grad Keight MacLean combines features of Baroque and Renaissance painting with modern themes and approaches, exploring where “historical influence meets modern technique”. Through her reflective paintings, she investigates social ideals of beauty, sexuality, and issues of substance abuse. In her own words, MacLean is “inspired by history… bring[ing] forgotten faces into the contemporary art sphere with experimental techniques and modern media. My work focuses on historical portraits of women forgotten by history, and often addresses modern women’s issues through a historical lens.”

Roula Partheniou

Roula Partheniou creates playful sculptural work that often features arrangements of minimal objects, skewing the viewer’s perception of everyday life as familiar items become disassociated from their typical contexts. Her work reflects her interest in “the principle of Gestalt in the double take”. Partheniou’s work has been featured in a number of gallery exhibitions, including at the Temporary Contemporary in Oakville and MKG127 in Toronto.

Abby McGuane

Abby McGuane’s work has been featured in group exhibitions at the Power Plant gallery and The Kitchen as well as in solo shows at the now-defunct O’Born Contemporary and the Howard Park Institute. Her work combines raw materials with altered or partially manipulated images, in order to explore boundaries between picture and sculpture, image and frame.

Vanessa Maltese

Working with sculpture, painting, and installation, Vanessa Maltese has won a number of grants and awards for her art. Her vibrant, multi-dimensional work often plays with the spatial boundaries of a gallery space, as well as negotiates within and beyond the borders of the frame. Her art has been shown in Toronto and New York.

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