Robert Mapplethorpe’s Unforgettable Photographs at Olga Korper Gallery

I use the term “unforgettable” to describe Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs with intention, as I saw a collection of his work, mostly the flower images, years ago during a high-school trip to New York, and remember them distinctly. It was a life changing experience for me, actually, and my passion for cameras and picture taking was borne.

So, I was excited that a solo exhibition of his photographs was going on here in Toronto, as part of the Contact Photography Festival. Not only is the show — called “Robert Mapplethorpe: The Outsiders” — wonderful, the space it’s hanging in, The Olga Korper Gallery, is pretty spectacular itself.

The gallery is easy to get to, located just off Dundas Street West, east of Roncesvalles, at the end of a short avenue called Morrow. It’s within part of a former factory built in the early 1900s, called “The Canadian Hanson and Van Winkle Company”. As far as I can determine, they made supplies for the silver-plating of metals. Today, the small cluster of historic buildings are home to galleries and offices.

If you’ve read or listened to Patti Smith’s memoir “Just Kids“, some of these are the photographs that her dear friend Robert (b1946-d1989) was taking in the early 70s, as the pair of struggling young artists lived at The Chelsea Hotel. To reinforce the close connection between the two, the largest piece in the show is a portrait of Patti, displayed as the visual pinnacle of the exhibition.

↑ His tattoo says “Yea tho I walk through the valley of death, I shall fear no evil, For I am the meanest son of a bitch that ever walked the valley“. ↑

↑ I was happy to be able to see the show with my friend Meghan who is just back from 14 months of travelling and working around the world. ↑

Robert Mapplethorpe: The Outsiders” is on display in Toronto at The Olga Korper Gallery until June 1st, 2019. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday and admission is free.

After, we went for a beer and catch-up at “Bandit Brewery and Restaurant“, that’s located a quick walk from the gallery, at 2125 Dundas Street West. It, too, is housed within an old industrial space.

Thank you for reading. xo loulou