Posts Tagged ‘abstract’

Lots of shiny silver balls, like bowling balls with bling, and lots of paint on large canvases…. on the surface these two things don’t really have anything in common.  But because they are two things that I saw at the Art Gallery of Ontario, I’m going to throw them together in this blog post.  The shiny spheres are part of a display by Yayoi Kusama  while the paintings I refer to are those by J.P. Riopelle and Joan Mitchell.

I saw the balls first.   There has been a lot of hype and publicity for the latest AGO exhibit, “Infinity Mirrors” by Yayoi Kusama that just opened this past weekend.  You’ve probably seen the all the red and white polka dots on the TTC and elsewhere around the city.   Last week when I was at the AGO I noticed that another Kusama exhibit was in the works, one that didn’t involve buying a “hard to get” ticket.  I was curious.  I’ve seen some photos of “Infinity Mirrors” so I went with great expectations.   Maybe that was my mistake.

below: “Narcissus Garden” consists of a large room with hundreds of shiny silver spheres laid out on the floor.

a large room, with 3 women looking at hundred of silver balls arranged on the floor. The balls are about the size of bowling balls

“Narcissus Garden” dates back to 1966 when it was a performance piece by Kusama at the Venice Bienalle.  She walked among the balls, picking them up, and looking at herself in them.   Here, at the AGO, they lie on the floor.   The ceiling is reflected over and over again.   It’s a dull ceiling.   The balls are scuffed up.   You might be able to lie on the floor to get a good look at the reflections bouncing around and that might be interesting.  As it is, “listless” is the word that I would use to describe it.  It’s the tag along mangy mutt to the main event.

reflections of a person in a few shiny silver balls

I spent a few minutes trying to figure out how to improve the presentation but, meh, no.  Instead I went upstairs to take a second look at the lesser known “new” exhibit at the AGO, the marvellous Mitchell and Riopelle show, “Nothing in Moderation”.  American abstract painter Joan Mitchell (1925 -1992) and Canadian abstract painter Jean Paul Riopelle (1923-2002) met in Paris in 1955.  For 24 years they were colleagues, friends, and lovers.  This exhibit consists of more than 50 of their works on loan from collectors around the world and shown together.

below: Looking at (part of) ” Tilleul (the Linden Tree)”, 1992 by Mitchell.

A woman in dark bright pink hair, with matching purse and shoes stands in front of a large painting by Joan Mitchell in an art gallery

below: Three degrees of interest in “Chasse Interdit (Hunting Prohibited)” by Mitchell, 1973.  On loan from the George Pompidou Centre in Paris.   The title of the painting refers to a ban on hunting – apparently Riopelle loved hunting and Mitchell loathed it.

Three people are looking at a large Riopelle painting in an art gallery, two are sitting on a couch and the third is standing closer to the painting.

below: The painting here is “Avatac” by Riopelle, 1971.  It is acrylic paint on top of lithographs on canvas

an emptry art gallery room except for a security guard standing on one side, a brown couch is in the middle of the room and a large abstract painting by Riopelle is one one wall, you can see into the next room where there is also a painting on a wall.

below: This is a photo of a small part of the above painting.  If you look closely, you can see the lithograph peeping through.   I can see a small animal head near the top left (a cat?) and there seems to be another lower down.

acrylic paint on top of lithograph, a detail of a large work by J P Riopelle called Avatac, created in 1971.  abstract art.

below: One thing that intrigued me about Riopelle’s painting was that even though there is a lot of paint (palette knife?), there are still some places where the canvas is visible.  Just small bits.

a close up of a large abstract painting with lots of acrylic paint on it

below: The details in the above photo are from the top left square in ” Mitchikanabikong ” by Riopelle.

large painting by Riopelle called Mitchikanabikong which is sort of divided into 6 quares, 3 across the top row and 3 on the bottom.  they alternate light and dark

below: The gallery was quiet on Wednesday morning.   Both of these paintings are by Joan Mitchell.   On the left, on loan from the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC is “Marlin”, 1960.  The other is “Untitled” from 1961 and it is on loan from the Joan Mitchell Foundation in New York.

a flat bench in front of two paintings on a gallery wall

And to end, a couple more for you to enjoy.

two women looking at large paintings in an art gallery

a woman with her back to the camera is looking at a large painting in an art gallery, AGO, Art gallery of Ontario,


We all know that red means stop, right?

traffic signal, red light, in front of a billboard with a father and child

What you may not realize is that’s only part of the story…
because red also means stop and take a picture!

a Bell payphone in front of a red wall.

And so I did.

a tim horton's ad on the side of a bus shelter as a woman walks past, a timbit is being dunked into the foam of a latte

back lights and part of the red of the back of a TTC streetcar

below: …. with a can of Red Bull even!
tied to a branch, two deflated red balloons and two deflated white balloons and a can of red bull drink

scalloped edged awning, in winter, with snow on the top and some froze drips of water and icicles

part of a red and white sale sign

part of sign, red background, a gold snowflake and part of a red and white Santa hat

top of a shingled porch roof with a bright red wall behind it

part of a red fabric Christmas bow in a decoration with some green pine

big bright pink flowers, mural on a garage door by Blazeworks
above: Bright pink flowers by Blazeworks

I shared David French Lane with some garbage men, a bright green truck, and a lot of smelly garbage the other day. Luckily there were lots of murals to distract me from the smell!

a green GFL garbage truck in a lane as men pick up garbage on garbage day

below: The north end of David French Lane is at Barbara Barrett Lane, immediately south of Bloor.  Here, elicser painted a mural in his characteristic style that I have already blogged about.   It is also where there is a mural of a blue and white train.  I didn’t take any photos of it this time because it isn’t new and it wasn’t part of the Wall Expressions project.

corner where two alleys meet, a green P parking lot and a building with murals on two sides.

Quite a few of the garages in David French Lane had been painted sometime in the past.  Many had been tagged over or were in need of updating.  The ‘Wall Expressions – You are Here’ project provided the lane with a fresh coat of paint back in mid-September.

below: A large TTC bus drives into the alley by dudeman, surrounded by skulls of many colours.

a mural by dudeman, TTX bus, spadina sign, and lots of different coloured skulls

‘You are Here’ was the result of a collaboration between StreetARToronto, the Tranzac Club, the local community, and last but not least Team Spudbomb who organized the artists who participated.

below: More colours here too – lots of movement and energy too.   Mural painted by Chris Perez.

a garage covered with colour splotches

below: Almost didn’t get this shot – the garage door started opening as I stood there.  A geometric abstract mural by Andre Kan.   It reminds me of the chaos of roads in the city

geometric abstract mural in browns and red and blues, by andre

below: Another geometric design – this time by mediah.

geometric abstract mural in browns and greys, by mediah,

below: whales by wales, swimming in the lane

large mural with marine life theme, whale, blue background for water,

a row of garages with the doors painted with murals, garbage ready for pick up in front of them, in a lane, large tree too

below: Midtown cinema by ACK

mural on a garage, red and light brown text on the botto, grey tones picture of midtown cinema on the top part

below: A portrait of Ed Mirvish holding an iconic Honest Eds sign, painted by spud.

street art portrait of David Mirvish holding iconic Honest Eds signs

garage with two sides painted in street art, lane, backs of houses, no leaves on tree,

sides and front of garage with street art on them

below: Mural by fly vandals

mural on side of building, purple,

mural on garage

below: An apt phrase – ‘Be Here Now’ beside a fence of spudbombs.

a garage door with the words Be Here Now beside a fence painted with spud bombs, hand grenade shaped characters with eyes and smiling mouths

Close to Kensington market is a small park called Sonya Parkette.  Two of the sides of the park are walls.  A few years ago the walls were painted with historical murals that were subsequently tagged over.   More recently, the park has undergone some renovations including new murals on the walls.

Many of the murals are by P.S (or at least that’s the signature on them).  If you are familiar with some of the graffiti and street art in the Kensington area, you will recognize the style.

multicoloured face with red text tag beside

orange face, blue eyes, short black hair, mural on a wall at Sonya Parkette in Kensington

mural, face in grey tones, on a background of water, trees, sky and clouds.

below: This mural, and the one below, are obviously by the same artist who painted the two murals of naked women in Milky Way.

mural of an orange naked woman reclining, wall is golden yellow colour

mural on a wall with green plants growing in front, mural is a blue person from the chest up, no hair. Some plants are part of the mural too.

below: A realistic painting of a sleeping man.

a man in green pants and white t-shirt is sleeping on the ground, a mural on a wall. the ground is green with small circles and semi-circles in other colours.

below: Peace and an abstract.

a mural with two parts, on the left is an abstract design with rectangles and a few curves. on the right is a realistic hand giving the peace sign

The Kensington area has a problem with taggers – many street art pieces get vandalized.  Let’s hope that these don’t suffer that fate.

Welcome back!

I spotted this image and knew that it was going to be part of today’s theme.

the word see is in block letters on a tinted window, some sky is reflected in the window as well

It was a beautiful summer Sunday today – a great day to get outside and walk around.  Although I started my walk by looking for little details, I ended up finding a lot of colour along the way.   Cheerful colours that I want to share with you.

below: Colours like this red van parked in the partial shade of a tree.

the side of a bright red van, with some leaves and shadows from a small tree

below: Or the blue of the sky.   Streetcar wires – hard to ignore when you’re downtown.

streetcar lines held together with a ring, the blue sky behind them.

below: The painting of a young woman’s face on the wall of the Cameron House was partially obscured by construction equipment as the work on Queen Street West water pipes continues.  I tried to find a way of taking her picture without the obstacles.  Pink and flesh tones.

close up of a wall painted with the face of a young woman, showing lips and cheeks and part of nose

below: Instructions that are hard to miss!   Not sure which one is the doorbell though!

ring doorbell sign in large pink letter

below: I very carefully lined up the picture on the metal box (painted by elicser) with the diamond pattern on the Pizza Pizza wall when along came a streetcar.  Photobombed by a streetcar.   What is the girl holding?  I’ve passed her many times (she’s on the corner of Queen St. West and Spadina) but I’ve never looked closely at her.  I always assumed that it was a mug with something hot in it – doesn’t that look like steam?  Tonight I realized that it’s a smartphone and that’s not steam, it’s light.

a metal box on the sidewalk is painted by elicser, a young girl in a red shirt and blue jeans, holds a black phone, behind her is the orange diamond tiles of a Pizza Pizza restaurant, the very front of a streetcar is on the left.

below: To take good pictures doesn’t require a fancy camera.  Great photos have been taken with phones and bad photos have been taken with expensive equipment and I’m sure that’s not new to you.  I only mention it because where equipment sometimes matters is the type of pictures that can be produced.  Today I was walking with a telephoto lens that was useless for things close to me but fabulous for distance.  Best distance – across the street, like the photo below.   It was the bright blue and white stools that caught me attention.  It wasn’t until I was lining up the shot that I saw the people (an added bonus!).

white, teal, and blue metal stools beside a wood table, in the window of a restaurant, in the sun, a man is sitting with his back to the table.

below: While on the subject of stools, these were close by the ones above.   In this case I cropped out most of the people.   Keep it simple and keep those shoes in the center!  I just want to add that different cameras or different lenses impact how I look at the world when I walk.   Do I zoom in on details? Or do I go for the wider story?

yellow metal stools, men, onw standing and one sitting on the stool with his feet in turquoise shoes, resting on a bar of the stool.

below: More yellow. Yellow gas pipes.  They are everywhere.

along an old brick exterior wall, there are two yellow gasline pipes that are held onto the wall with clamps

below: Flowers in bloom but no idling here.

floors overflow from a hanging basket on a telephone pole, ivy on the wall behind it, also some traffic signs, one says no idling and the other says no vendors.

below: Green.  Shadowy.  Incomplete.

part of a green sign, with white letters that say restaurant.

below: This is almost too cliched (add the accent to get the correct spelling!).   But when the two taxis drove into the picture I had to take it as an “orange picture”.  You can add the comment about Toronto’s two seasons here – I know you know it!

street scene, two orange and green taxis drive by a construction site with orange traffic signs, arrows saying the right lane is closed.

below: Purple wall with a doll.  I’m going to assume that it is a lost doll.  Someone dropped it and didn’t notice and then someone picked it up off the ground and tucked its arm into the wire to keep it safe and visible.

purple wall, graffiti onthe wall, also a chain runs horizontally across the bottom of the picture. A toy doll with no clothes has its arm tucked into a green wire.

below: The colour of the curtain in the window above a store caught my eye and then I noticed the book holding open the window.   Oops another case of ‘look again’.  It’s not a book, it’s a box that once held a Razor kick scooter.

a window above a store is held open with a book

below: Abstract.  I vaguely remember painting something similar back in Junior High.  It involved masking tape and I never got the lines right.  The paint always leaked under the tape.  Do you recognize the building?

abstract composed of a red roof, a grey textured wall and a building with three tones of blue windows

below: Behind the painted metal grille is a small colourful Stikman in his little frame.

a small brightly coloured stikman in a tiny wood frame is behind a metal grille that is rusty.

below: I will admit that my first reaction when I saw this, small and close to the ground, was “I’ve found Jesus”.  Not as bright and cheery as the other pictures but alas brown and grey are colours too.

dirt on an exterior wall that looks like the top part of a person

below: And last, the perfect colour at the end of a walk… a beer on a patio with a friend.

a Bettys glass, full of beer, in the sun


A large part of the inspiration for this blog post came from participating in a week long photography project called ‘My Curious Eyes’.  Each day we were challenged/encouraged to find interesting things to photograph based on prompts such as shape, colour, and texture.  Part of the project was to photograph things that we hadn’t noticed before, or to look at ordinary things in a different way.

Written in big bold letters – STRONG SMART UNITED

Those three words are what you see first as you walk down Lansdowne just north of Queen Street.  This striking wall is the beginning of a group of murals and street art paintings that now adorn some of the walls and doors in an alley on the north side of Queen Street West.   The paintings were done last weekend by a group of women artists.   The walls had been primed previously by four high school students (and organized by the Toronto Police Services).

mural with the words strong smart united written in rainbow colours, big block capital letters

below: Shapes and colours by controlartdelete (aka Rachel Wilmshurst)

abstract shapes, circles, rectangles, by controlartdelete

below: Emily May Roses’s women

mural by emily may rose of various women's faces, in black and white and pink, long black hair, pink head scarf, pink dress, short hair,

below: Abstract houses and greenery by Jieun June Kim

blocks in a mural look like abstract houses and circles for trees, by Jieun June Kim

below: Two kneeling women and a long necked bird with wings spread by Caitlin Taguibao

mural on a garage door in orange, black, white and green of a bird with wings spread, standing on flowers, with a woman kneeling behind each wing

below: Monica on the Moon, “Over the mountains under the stars”

a monica on the moon mural with a woman getting on a motorcycle in grey tones except for the helmet which is red. the words Over the Mountains and under the stars are written over the motorcycle

below: A colourful mural by _muisca_ (aka Daniela Rocha)

Spanish or South American themed woman with large sun shaped headdress and colourful dress by muisca

below: Unfortunately, this one has already been defaced, including the signature.

mural in an alley laneway

corner of a building in a lane showing the street art on two sides

below: Desert woman theme, by mska

a blue car is parked in front of a mural of a face with desert symbolism, a large cactus is in the mural beside the face

below: Geometric shapes, colours, and patterns, by hellokirsten (aka Kirsten McCrea)

mural by hello kirsten, shapes and geometry,

below: Left – by originalsmilez (aka Julieta Arias).
But on the right, help! I don’t know (do you?)

2 square street art paintings on an alley fence, one is a woman with a wand-like object in her hand and the other is swirls of colours

below: Looks a bit like a brightly coloured Picasso – the work of huntoland (aka Renato Hunto)

picasso like painting of round people in pieces, in bright colours, mural in a lane

below: My apologies but this another one where I don’t know who the artist is

mural on a wall in Toronto alley, part of #womenpaintTO

below:  … and this one as well I’m afraid

stylized throw up type graffiti

below: A elicser figure outside the door.  Elicser is definitely male – was this mural already here?

elicser street art piece in a lane, a face with another face with multiple eyes that might be part of the first's head or might be separate

below: Shades of pink with blue lips, by toest (aka Sarah Gilmore).

a smal street art painting by toes of a pink flower and a woman's head, long dark hair with streaks of pink, blue lips, and eyes closed

below: On a seriously cracked wall there is now a pink flower inside a green triangle surounded by a circle,  by CVBinns (aka Courtney Binns)

pink flower in a green triangle surrounded by a circle, street art

below: Long flowing hair and with eyes closed, a mural by carolannapilado

mural, black background with faces with eyes closed and flowing stylized hair

below: A collaborative effort between auralast (aka Monique Aura) and chiefladybird (aka Ogimaa Kwe Bnes) – mother and child with the city beyond.

mother sitting holding child (baby) in First Nation like theme, black city skyline in the background, by auralast and chiefladybird , yellow background with flowers

below: Also in the lane there are two urban ninja squadron paste ups by Tbonez

a tbonez urban ninja squadron pasteup of the ninja in the jaws of a shark, another paste up of a dog (cat?) is looking at the ninja

a tbonez urban ninja squadron pasteup - standing with hand up and fingers crossed, has a shadow

below: Looking east along the alley. The first road is Macdonell Avenue.  Lansdowne is in the distance.

a woman walking her dog in an alley, another woman walking away from the camera

This project was supported by the StreetARToronto program, Toronto Police Services and the Drake Hotel.  I talked briefly with a policewoman who was in the alley at the same time that I was – there is hope that the lane to the east of Lansdowne can be painted in the future.

Before then, a second all women street art jam and mural will be happening in Little India (1460 Gerrard Street East) at the end of August.   The street art jam will be on the weekend of August 26th and 27th and will showcase the Woman in the Walls mural being painted at that time.


This blog post is part of my continuing fascination with walls and the other things that you see on walls such as windows, shadows, pipes, bars, and other architectural details.  I like to look at how the elements interact visually and how they come together to form compositions.  Sometimes they tell a story and other times they are just an abstract picture.   Here are a few that I have collected over the past few months.   The first one in the group is a photo that I took this morning; it was the prompt that led to this post.

below: the contrast of red, black, and right angled yellow

red wall with black door and yellow pipes

below: blue from the inside, shadows on the outside

grey wall with peeling paint, small window with metal bars and a blue board covering the inside of the widow, telephone pole with shadow, metal vent in the wall

below: yellow pipe, orange concrete

bright yellow pipe against a bright orange wall, with shadow.

below: a window seat

bright red wall with window. A chair is in the window, also reflections of chinese signs, number 52 on the wall

below: frosted reflections

hazy reflection of a window and a grey wall

below: from a different angle, still a wall

on an angle, rusty brown coloured wall with horizontal windows on a white section

below: nailed links where the hinge once was

chain link fence nailed to a bright blue wood fence, corrugated plastic behind the chain link

below: aging shingles and plywood

grey and rust brown shingles cover most of a wall with two windows that have been boarded over with plywood that is peeling, three basement windows with pink trim

below: yellow people and books above and dandelion specks of yellow below

dandelions grow against a concrete wall that has large yellow panels on the upper part

below: dollar signs in the winter

grey concrete wall with window, someone has drawn a dollar sign on the wall, leafless shrub growing against the wall, winter time

below: cracked and peeling

yellow wood door with peeling paint, red gate, also with peeling paint, up close of parts of them

below: vertical reflections, horizontal grooves

horizontal window in a wall with horizontal grooves

below: open days a week and empty frames

4 nespaper boxes lined up on a sidewalk in front of a beige wall, store, with sign that says open days a week.

below: painted square shining in the sun

partly hidden by shadow, brick wall with reddish painted square on it.

below: At 972 and 972A, a hidden doorway and a trophy in the window.

brick wall with recessed doorway on the left and window on the right. There is a trophy in the window

below: rectangles, diamonds, and trapezoids

trapezoid sections on a concrete exterior wall

below:  a deep red curtain and a few exposed bricks

window with deep red curtain, grey painted brick wall, lower basement window

below: The last few pictures are of this wall and the ghost remains of a house that once stood beside it.

side of a building with the ghost remains of the house that once adjoined it.

below: (16″) 2 steps from landing

wall with patched brick and concrete sections, also words written in marker

wall with sections of brick and plaster. Plaster covers what once was a doorway

old exterior wall, brick, mortar, plaster

Previous blog posts about walls:
1.  wall compositions (Nov 2015)
2. walls in the abstract (Oct 2014)