what the hell was I doing in an art gallery today?

Today was my first time waking into any form of an art gallery, I would often pass by them and think them too exclusive and elite for me to simply understand, never mind entering their immense presence, I felt like I’ll be a frog among princes.

Yet this week I found some spare bravery and attended Art Toronto 2021. As part of my habit I had difficulty reaching the venue, lost in the mazes of this city, I must have walked a marathon today, the growing skid marks on my sneakers as my alibi.

I shuffled around my pockets for my ticket and my vaccine passport, the latest development in this world becoming stranger by the day. After a few minutes of waiting in a line full of old people and young art students, I arrived inside, took the escalator, and when I moved my eyes like a drone I was seduced with the view of true creation, scattered across the endless halls, thousands of hours of painting, sculpting and scrapping into the trash can, the millions of “frustration cigarettes” stepped on in endless nights, pursuing the beauty of this moment, the showcase.

Internally, I felt myself tipping my metaphorical hat to the art world, friend or foe I knew this could be the start of a grand love or hate. Either way, It was about to show me something I had previously not known, I became excited.

My footsteps were cautious, mousy almost I was still feeling out the vibe, everyone wore cool clothes, nice hair, and looked like an expert as they stood next chatting among themselves, at least that’s what their stares said to a paranoid novice like me.

Then I came across it, oh my how it took my breath away…

Kristy Templeton Davidge’s Striped Pant (right) and Iridescent Jacket (left)

Maybe it’s my own particularly hellish mood lately but these pieces from Canadian figure painter Kristy Templeton Davidge really gave me a sense of profound sadness, figures trapped in separate forms of agony, wrapping themselves in their own skin, finding pathetic comfort in their own touch, attempting desperately and silently to foster up self-protection, I caught myself nodding my head in shared loneliness as these thoughts passed through my head, thankfully no one can read my inner thoughts.

I was really catapulting myself to follow up online to see what else Kristy worked on, I became a fan surely, one day when my wallet is nice and swollen I hope to purchase a piece for my art-deficient home.

After this experience I continued to shuffle around jolting my puffy hair from side to side attempting to look as phony as possible, I even did that poser move of moving closer to the paintings as if I was going to catch some massive detail, I knew nothing but I used it as my shield, I wasn’t embarrassed to ask even the most basic questions, I must have been the person who bothered the guides the most, asking everything from absurd to faintly profound.

I rested for a second as I tied my shoelaces and when I got up I took notice of a booth that stood out, I went over hoping to ask the guide for more information but she was explaining something to a middle-aged couple, judging from their accents they must have been from Quebec but I enjoyed hearing french even in a casual sense it’s a language that always invites honey to the ears. When she finished, I took my chance and we began chatting. She explained it was a special showcase for the artist Peter Chan, for his collection called The Twilight Hours.

Truly a gripping set of works, apparently Chan was inspired by The Great Gatsby and the roaring 20s timestamp the book is set in, Chan points the mirror at a fantasy-like world, the theme of gold symbolizing distraction and commercialization of the world, how material things have literally become our veils, we’ve become sheep to greed and even our humanity is lost in a world of gold.

The final work I would like to discuss seduced me near the end of my time at the gallery, I was starting to feel hungry and for me, that usually spells armageddon as I have the eating capabilities of a timid medieval maiden, I knew the moment my stomach started growling like an angry pitbull my time was coming to an end, I was chasing one last thrill, one last image to staple to this afternoon.

And then it appeared in all its glory, the photography of Robert Mapplethorpe

Aggressively confrontational, this is a series of photos that showcase a man foaming in a power uncharacteristically nude, there is a shame in the male body even when it’s exposed so heavily, maybe indeed because it is exposed mostly in acts of power and bravado that it loses a lot of its fragility. In terms of black men, there is a deliberate dehumanization that rolls back to times of slavery, and Mapplethorpe’s choice of model and the snapshots yell loudly a message that is loud and clear.

I must extend my thanks to my girlfriend who really inspired me to attend and push myself to a new experience, in life, it’s important to appreciate the opportunity to lean and bounce around your comfort zone until it’s expanded its form completely, that’s the only way we become more complete in this grand game of birth and death.

I feel I grew in this aspect today.

More art below!

The most confusing portion is….is this art or an actual cat? I left without an answer.

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