On at the AGO – Winter 2023 / 24

Hello. Here’s a look at some of the art to be seen at the AGO this winter.

My friend Julie and I celebrated our 11th Friendiversary with a visit to the art gallery (We met in a line up at the event written about in this post, and I’m so very glad we did. She’s awesome.)

Our destination was an easy choice as this is a much loved place for us, somewhere we’ve both been going since we were children, where we’ve learned a lot about all kinds of art.

While we took some time to visit some old favourites (here is one of mine), this post will concentrate on the special exhibits that are on for a limited time right now. <This link will take you to the gallery’s “Current Exhibitions” page, where you’ll find more information.


On until March 31, 2024. UPDATE : This exhibit has been extended until August 5th.

From the AGO website : “Making his Canadian museum debut, Brooklyn-based artist Brian Donnelly (1974), better known as KAWS, bridges the worlds of art, popular culture and commerce with sophisticated humour and insightful appropriation. Renowned for his larger-than-life sculptures of cartoon-inspired characters and exuberant hard-edge paintings that playfully emphasize line and colour, much like 1960s Pop artists, he blurs the boundaries between populist and elite art, bringing mass media imagery into traditional art spaces.  Straddling the world of art and design, KAWS has forged a large international following both inside and outside the art world.”

There are several different areas throughout the gallery that have KAWS pieces set up.


On until January 7, 2024. Update : Extended until July 14, 2024

From the AGO website : “Sarindar Dhaliwal: When I grow up I want to be a namer of paint colours exhibits more than 40 years of artmaking by the South Asian Canadian artist. Characterized by intense colour and compelling imagery, Dhaliwal’s art investigates memory, identity and migration. In this, her first AGO solo exhibition, the artist’s significant contribution to Canadian art will be illustrated by a selection of key works, including meticulously rendered drawings and mixed media works from the 1980s to the 2000s, alongside large-scale installations and recent photography. Curated by Renée van der Avoird, Associate Curator, Canadian Art, this exhibition highlights two recent acquisitions: Hey Hey Paula (1998) and the cartographer’s mistake: the Radcliffe Line (2012).”

↑ The gallery has recently acquired this installation called “Hey Hey Paula”. The sign on the floor in front of the phone invites visitors to pick it up and have a listen. I won’t give away the surprise of what you hear, but it’s a lot of fun. ↑

↑ As a nice bonus for us, the artist was onsite giving a talk and tour of the exhibition. ↑


On until January 21, 2024

From the AGO website : “Building Icons: Arnold Newman’s Magazine World, 1938-2000 presents the life and creative career of the acclaimed American photographer. Well-known for his compelling portraits of artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Henry Moore, and Pablo Picasso alongside many renowned composers, actors, political figures of the post WW II era, the exhibition also includes Newman’s documentary scenes, abstract compositions, and collages, with particular focus on how magazine commissions fueled both his work and his renown. In more than 200 gelatin silver prints, made between 1938 and the 2000s, drawn from the AGO’s extensive holdings, the photographs reveal Newman’s many influences – his family and social networks, historical context, cultural heritage, artistic training and creative interests – and chart his considerable impact on American visual culture. The exhibition is curated by Sophie Hackett, AGO Curator of Photography, with photo scholar and independent curator Tal-Or Ben-Choreen.


On until May 26, 2024

From the AGO website : “What does “home” mean to you? Featuring works produced by the creative agency Sunday School, Feels Like Home invites audiences to consider contemporary conversations around the notion of home. Together with artists from across Africa and the diaspora, Sunday School strives to share diverse stories and perspectives that reflect their collaborative ethos.”  


Temporary but Ongoing

From the AGO website : “Tarralik Duffy dreams of a world where Inuktitut is the default language. In her drawings and sculptural works, she references objects from her own childhood that are iconic in Nunavut and embedded in Inuit contemporary culture. Quickstop was a convenience store chain in northern Canada, and “Let’s go Quickstop” is what Inuit frequently say when going to buy takeout, camping, or hunting provisions. Even though the store’s name has since changed, the phrase lives on in Nunavut.

Both nostalgic and humourous, the exhibited works depict products that were for sale during the artist’s childhood, including cigarettes, China Lily Soya Sauce, Crosby’s Molasses, Magic Baking Powder, Pepsi Cola, and Red Rose Tea.”

There is another major time-limited exhibition on right now that we decided to save for another visit. I’m looking forward to seeing it and will report back once I have.

FOLLOW UP : We went to the Keith Haring Exhibition and it is wonderful. See the story about it here.


On until March 17, 2024

From the AGO’s website : “Celebrating Keith Haring’s creativity and activism, this fall the AGO welcomes a major exhibition of the late artist’s vast output through more than 120 artworks and archival materials. Known for his use of vibrant color, energetic linework and iconic characters like the barking dog and the radiant baby, Haring’s artwork continues to dissolve barriers between art and life and spread joy.

Making its only Canadian stop at the AGO, Keith Haring: Art Is for Everybody aims to give a palpable sense of Keith Haring the artist and person, taking Haring’s journals as a key source for reading his work.”

And, here are a couple of other pieces we saw as we looked around:

Based on the number of other friend couples we saw during our visit, Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario really does make a lovely place to visit with a friend. There’s plenty of space to stroll around and chat while looking at an endless variety of art, featuring artists from Canada and around the world and spanning centuries.

When you’re ready for a break, there’s a beautiful spot, walled with windows, where you can sit and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea at the Espresso Bar. It was sunny when we went and there was a cheerful little rainbow reflected on our table.

↑ Hanging overhead is Woven Currents – Confluence of Parallels (2020) by Haegue Yang, which was commissioned by the gallery for this specific place. See a post about my visit to the exhibit of her work, when this piece was first installed, which took place during the pandemic. I must say that the gallery did such a good job at keeping visitors safe during that time, while still offering us the much appreciated experience of seeing uplifting art during those darkest of days. ↑

↑ Julie made these fingerless gloves and then embroidered them using a kit from her business Knitted Bliss Stitching. She offers lovely kits and patterns to those who enjoy embroidery and knitting. I’ll brag on her behalf because she never would, but my friend a pretty big deal in Canada’s knitting and stitching communities. ↑

On my way home, I took this photo of the back side of the gallery and the oldest brick house in the city, while walking through Grange Park, buoyed by the nice weather and a great time spent with a friend seeing wonderful art.