Novella’s January Art Guide 2018

August Morning by Kazuo Nakamura. Image Source.

And just like that, it’s a new year.

We can’t tell you what this year will bring — if it will be easier or harder than the last, if all of our problems will magically be solved, or if anyone will find love.

What we can do is show you a good place to start your year off with a new crop of Toronto art exhibitions. This month we have a variety of shows, rather a mixed-bag of mediums and artists, but all promising the peace and thoughtfulness that inherently come with time spent with art.


Painting with wax is an old technique, so old that the first example of it we can find is from the 1st century BCE. Since then, popularity with the art form has ebbed and flowed, with different interpretations popping up. It returns again in 2018 with a new crop of artists inspired by the medium’s capacity to create incredible colour and dimension. This group show at Twist Gallery has artists pushing boundaries with the medium and finding modernity in an old technique.

Find more information here.


This show at the Japan Foundation is both an art exhibition and a history lesson. Here we see examples of printmaking by painters, which gained popularity among young Japanese artists in the 1970s and expanded on contemporary art. The exhibition looks at the history of the medium, back from its origins, post-WWII, and onwards. It also features works from what they consider to be “supporting players” in the movement as a way to showcase printmaking as an autonomous art form and re-examine its history.

Find more information here.


Onsite Gallery’s newest exhibition brings more than a dozen artists together in an exploration of using nature to combat global crises. The show is about creating hope through plants, flowers, and trees, looking at old powers to find new meanings. Curated by Lisa Deanne Smith, the exhibition will include works by Nick Cave, Alanis Obomsawin, and Brian Jungen, to name a few. An exhibition like this is something everyone needs right now: a bit of positivity, a bit of nature.

Find more information here.


The Christopher Cutts Gallery will be putting on this exhibition featuring work from the famous Japanese-Canadian artist known for his abstract paintings and sculptures. Nakamura’s paintings are simple in design but stunningly beautiful, often tied to Nakamura’s interest in science and mathematics. Overall, their effect is calming, the blues and greens he so often turns to creating a wave of quiet contemplation.

Find more information here.


This year marks the 15th iteration of the Gladstone Hotel’s immersive art exhibition. Come Up to my Room will take over all four floors of the hotel during its limited run, offering a truly unique gallery experience. The exhibition itself acts as a conversation between artist, art, and viewers, and provides a challenge for the participating artists to produce works for such an unusual space. The list of participating artists this year is a hefty one, but curators Jana Macalik and Christophe Jivraj with Lukas Toane have put together a promising roster.

Find more information here.

Novella’s January Art Guide

“Swimmer’s Moment” by W.W. Hung. Photo source.

Consider January to be the hangover of the calendar year. Recovery from the holidays meets the existential crisis that can only come from reflecting on every poor decision that was made, and vowing to do better in the future.

It’s a harsh month — one of ice and wind, and more often than not we find ourselves respectfully declining invitations to go out in favour of nesting under a pile of blankets indoors.

Sometimes, though, even in dead of winter, we find something that pushes us out of our homes and away from our central heating. If that something for you is art, or if your one resolution this year was, I think I really need to see more art exhibitions, then we have a few suggestions to get you going.


This joint exhibition promises inspiration, exhilaration, and beauty. Visual artists Afsaneh Shafai and Razmig Bertizian will have a selection of their works shown at the Cedar Ridge Creative Centre until mid-January. Shafai works in mixed media and commonly uses images of birds to portray freedom and courage, while Bertizian works primarily in oil and favours images of humans. Both artists, however, create art rich with meaning and bursting with colour. Sure to be a treat for the eyes.

Find more information here.


When we think of architecture, the first image will often be of a building, maybe one of the downtown skyscrapers. The first image in mind is likely not that of streetcar cables or a moving body. These images, however, are some of the ones that will be shown at the Pierre Leon Gallery this month. The exhibition features the sculptures of W.W. Hung, a Hong Kong-born, Toronto-based artist. He uses the human body in his works to construct different narratives on the human condition. These sculptures are juxtaposed to a selection of Marie-Do Hyman-Boneu’s lacquer paintings of urban Toronto.

Find more information here.


The purpose of Trinity Square Video’s upcoming exhibition is to look at a dwelling not just as a physical place but something built by social context and state governance. Curated by Farah Yusuf, of movement and dwelling features the works of artists Tings Chak and Felix Kalmenson, as well as the collective work of Faraz Anoushahpour, Parastoo Anoushahpour and Ryan Ferko. Chinese railroad workers, controlled destructive experiments, and the USSR are just a few of the things visitors will come into contact with at this exhibition.

Find more information here.


As we’ve discovered, our long-cherished images of Canada as the all-around nice guy on the planet are not wholly accurate. When the topic of slavery comes up, the finger is quickly pointed to the southern United States, but it was present in Canada until abolition in 1834. This exhibition is a partnership with the Archives of Ontario, and while it is more of a museum exhibition than art, it is such an important exhibition to see and learn from.

The Peel Art Gallery, located in Brampton, is a bit of a hike to get to, but the exhibit will be running there until September this year.

Find more information here.


Come Up To My Room is the Gladstone Hotel’s annual alternative design exhibition. The purpose of this show is always to ask artists and designers to create something different, something not confined by traditional rules of art and design and to create a visceral installation experience for the public. This year, curators Jana Macalik and Christophe Jivraj have come up with the loose theme of Transplant and how that notion relates to us in terms of geography, ideas, and digital social interaction.

Find more information here.

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Please, No More Clubs: Your Best Options This Halloween


Halloween is fast approaching, and this year, it’s on a Saturday, which means that it will essentially take over your weekend. If you don’t feel like battling a slew of humans on King Street to force your way into an overcrowded club, fear not. I have compiled a list of things I would rather be, and most likely will be, doing. Here’s your Halloween 101 if you don’t want to be downtown.

1) The Grandstone Budapest Hotel : The Gladstone Hotel will transform itself into Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel. You are encouraged to dress up as your favourite Wes Anderson character, and be sure to keep your eyes open for live performances throughout the hotel. Of course, Zero the lobby boy will be there, with Gustave to greet you at the front door, and the hotel has partnered with Glory Hole Donuts to create their own Mendl’s Patisserie. Count me in for this.

Where: The Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen Street West

2) Back To Church : Church Street will be closed and filled with the blood, guts, and gore of Torontonians. CHURCH on Church Street is hosting Back To Church, featuring DJ Liam Skinner and DJ Delicious, with a $100 prize for best costume.

Where: CHURCH on Church, 504 Church Street

Psycho (1960) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock Shown: Janet Leigh (as Marion Crane)

3) Psycho at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra : This is your chance to experience Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho like never before. The TSO will screen the thriller classic, while performing spooky live Bernard Herrmann’s iconic score in real time.

Where: Toronto Symphony Orchestra, 212 King Street West

4) The Haunted Amsterdam BrewHouse : Oh man, if I didn’t already love Amsterdam, this really did it for me. They are turning their entire 14 000 square foot brewhouse into a haunted house. WHAT?! They are also bringing pizza and live entertainers, so this is a no brainer.

Where: 245 Queens Quay West


5) Ghost Hole VII : If you don’t know what a ghost hole is, don’t feel bad, neither did I. A ghost hole is an unexplained event that occurs in an area of high paranormal activity. Scary right? This year, Ghost Hole 7 explores the old Jam Factory, a vacant building in the east end, rich in history, that will be illuminated by artists as they bring it back to life.

Where: Jam Factory Co., 2 Matilda Street