Art Toronto v Stable Diffusion


Art Toronto is Canada’s foremost international art fair, which took place from October 26—29, 2023, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. As a frequent visitor to art fairs, I’ve made it a habit over several years to capture and share some artworks that catch my eye. After exploring DALL·E 2 potential for extrapolating visual likeness with 2022 Art Toronto captures, I decided to extend the experiment with Stable Diffusion and explore how various AI image-to-image extrapolations have evolved since then.

Practice over the previous year has informed my understanding that Stable Diffusion XL provided one of the more robust toolsets for iterating and tweaking parameters. The results, seen below, are example of the greater nuance of this year’s AIs. However, they also often reveal compromises or obfuscation surrounding tropes, subjects, and pattern recognition.

This gesture is made with great respect for the original artworks and artists. These extrapolations would not be possible without the foundational jumping-off points provided by their artistic creations. The connection between those original gestures and the potential for others to extrapolate from artistic vocabularies is a rapidly shifting realm.

Murray Clarke, Two Hands, 2023 oil on canvas, 47⅕ × 39⅖ in. Presented by Duran|Mashaal.
Elise Lafontaine, Blue harmony, oil on linen and cotton stitching, 69 × 49 in. Presented by Pangée
Julia Dault, High On the Supply, 2023, acrylic and printed mesh on canvas, 71 × 50 in. Presented by Bradley Ertaskiran.
Michael Smith, Navigator Series – Seventh Wave, 2023, acrylic on canvas 64 × 52 in. Presented by Nicholas Metivier Gallery
Janet Werner, Orange Chair, 2021, oil on canvas 31 × 24 in. Presented by Bradley Ertaskiran.
Kent Monkman, Intermediary Study for Grandmother Knew All the Medicines,
2022, acrylic on canvas. Presented by Art Canada Institute.
Margaux Smith, Mycelial Network, 2021 , 36 × 48 in oil on panel. Presented by Clint Roenisch.
Rosalie Gamache, Un printemps, 2023, huile sur toile de lin, 60 x 48 in. Presented by Duran|Mashaal.
Bea Parsons, Stellar Balance: Celestial Grasp of the Unseen Thread, 2023, monotype on stonehenge paper 30 × 22 in. Presented by McBride Contemporain.
Jennifer Carvalho, oil on canvas 2023. Presented by Franz Kaka.
Pardiss Amerian, chimonanthus (aka gole yakh, wintersweet), 2023, oil on linen 36 × 30 in. Presented by Zalucky Contemporary.
Per Adolfsen, 2023, colored pencil on hahnemühle paper, 16½ × 11⅘ in. Presented by dianna witte gallery.
Jordan Bennett, Nitap: Ne’wt, 2020, acrylic on cradled birch panel 36 × 36 in. Presented by IOTA Institute Gallery.
Kristine Moran, untitled (drawing while walking), 2023⁠, oil on paper⁠ 18½ × 14¾ in. Presented by Daniel Faria Gallery.
Bradley Wood, A Tree Falls Through 2, 2023
oil on linen 49 × 34 in. Presented by Bau-Xi Gallery.
Giulia Dall’Olio, g 19][374 d, 2023, charcoal and acrylic on canvas 59⅒ × 39⅖ in. Presented by Galerie Isabelle Lesmeister.
Chang Wang, All Living Beings, mineral colour
(2×) 120 × 160 cm
David Milne (1882-1953), oil on canvas 16 × 20 in. Presented by Masters Gallery Ltd.
Gary Evans, Untitled 21, 2014, oil on canvas 54 × 42 in. Presented by Paul Petro Contemporary Art.
Manuel Mathieu, Le nœud [The Knot], 2023, mixed media on burnt canvas 80 × 75 in. Presented by Galerie Hugues Charbonneau.
Qavavau Manumie. Presented by Feheley Fine Arts.
Saimaiyu Akesuk. Presented by Feheley Fine Arts.
Rob Nicholls, Pavilion of Dreams, 2023, oil on canvas 62 × 72 in. Presented by Equinox Gallery.
Scott Everingham, The Lantern, 2023, oil on canvas 28 × 22 in. Presented by VivianeArt.
Tim Gardner. Presented by Monte Clark
Shaheer Zazai. Presented by Patel Brown.
Van Maltese, Empty pockets no. 3, 2023, oil on panel, red oak frame, cast bronze, enamel, magnets 57½ × 48½ × 2½ in. Presented by Cooper Cole.
Zachari Logan, Canto #4, 2021, blue pencil on mylar 20½ × 18 in. Presented by Paul Petro Contemporary Art.
Winnie Truong, Tafoni, 2023, coloured pencil, cut paper collage 20 × 16 in. Presented by Patel Brown.
Rick Leong, Wild Willow, 2019, oil on canvas 96 × 72 in. Presented by Bradley Ertaskiran.

Detroit Lemon Tea & untitled greens

Some spry spritz and rise from hot plasma and cold ocean swells. Just a taste. Lemon Tea and untitled greens are paired together here as light box imagery and conceptual bridges. These are a likening to worlds between worlds and of our presence and the gestures we make being an inseparable aspect of the places we visit.

Willow Checker

There was a willow that hung over the farmhouse that I grew up in, but it was cut down when I was still quite small. Despite knowing its stump well I think a part of me is still looking for that tree.


Miami Pairs Pop-up

Blue Parrots, 97½ × 132 in digital lightbox
Untitled Pairs, 97½ × 132 in digital lightbox

When does a soul become dyed with the color of its thoughts? These large images both face themselves and face away. Reaching and spiraling both inward and upward, they are poised and revealed, always re-centering on some in-between space and embracing a warmth of details to call their own. 

Untitled Pairs and Blue Parrots are exhibited alongside a selection of works by Saimaiyu Akesuk, curated by NAMARA for the Canada Goose Miami Pop-up.

Saimaiyu Akesuk, Mating Birds, 2023, coloured pencil and ink
Saimaiyu Akesuk, Love in in the Air, coloured pencil and ink
Saimaiyu Akesuk, Polarbird, 2023, coloured pencil and ink

Beijing 作 为一只 鸟 As a Bird

Taikoo Li Sanlitun, Beijing. Two figures, two artists, Saimaiyu Akesuk’s Rippling Birds and Sparkling Bird are here intersected by Alex Fischer.

Saimaiyu’s confident drawings with bold and dynamic simplicity are rendered with soft tenderness and often a touch of whimsy. Alex’s fashioning of Saimaiyu’s characters into models here amplifies their presence.

A presence of standing being sensitive to the waves and stars. A proud character.

作 为一只 鸟 As a Bird, 2023, 84 × 58 × 58 inches, water cut aluminum with printed and painted surfaces.

Dublin Portal

Shadow Integration as a delicate digital folding. The world swirls around the conscious persona. But here we are, gazing into the gray, not in it but with it. Witnessing the surplus of reality that resists.

Commissioned as a part of the NAMARA curated Canada Goose art collection in Dublin, Ireland along with a custom Fischer assisted textiles of original artworks by Ningiukulu Teeve and Quvianaqtuk Pudlate as well as a selection of other drawings and prints by Kinngait artists.

Art Toronto v DALL·E 2

Artworks captured at the 2022 edition

Image-to-image extrapolations 2022-10-29

Manuel Mathieu, L’éveil, 2022, mixed media on canvas, 35 4/5 × 29 9/10 in. Presented by Galerie Hugues Charbonneau
Elizabeth Zvonar, Briley Bliss, 2022, inkjet print on Baryta, mounted on dibond, 18 × 18 in. Presented by Daniel Faria Gallery
Veronika Pausova, Wading Sun, 2021, oil on canvas 
75 × 65 in. Presented by Bradley Ertaskiran
Winnie Truong, Tidal Forces, 2022. Presented by Patel Brown
Geoffrey Pugen, Industrial Fan, 2022, 24 × 24 in. Presented by MKG127
Marigold Santos, shroud envisioning (glance in green), 2022, acrylic, pigment + black gesso on canvas, 40 x 28 in. Presented by Norberg Hall
Shannon Bool, La Roi, 2022, jacquard tapestry with embroidery 108 3/10 × 73 3/5 in. Presented by Daniel Faria Gallery
Zachari Logan, Night Vision 4, 2022, pastel on brown paper, 14 × 11 in. Presented by Paul Petro Contemporary Art
Cindy Phenix, One Another Moment by Moment, 2022, oil and pastel on fabrics and linen, 60 × 48 in. Presented by Galerie Hugues Charbonneau
Ed Pien, Nymphs bathing, 2021, water-cut aluminium 30 × 32 in. Presented by Pierre François Ouellette art contemporain
Laura Dawe, Thieves, 2022 acrylic on canvas 48 × 36 in. Presented by Patel Brown
Ben Reeves, Riverbed Smokers, 2022 oil and acrylic on canvas 68 × 52 in. Presented by Nicholas Metivier Gallery
Laura Findlay, Plain, 2022, monotype, 25 5/8 × 21 5/8 in. Presented by Norberg Hall
Ooloosie Saila coloured pencil, ink
23 × 30 in, presented by Feheley Fine Arts
Sara Cwynar, Contemporary Floral Arrangement (#14.551 (1967)) a matter of style, 2022. Presented by COOPER COLE
Dil, Hildebrand, Tablet, 2022, oil, acrylic and sand on linen mounted on panel 60 × 40 in. Presented by Pierre François Ouellette art contemporain
Shaheer Zazai, DWG_FD_BD, 2020, digital print on watercolour paper 44 × 66 in, part of a series titled ‘Is, but will be‘. Presented by Patel Brown

Brian Rideout, American Collection Painting 55 (Bacon), 2022 oil on canvas 24 x 24 in. Presented by MKG127
Evan Penny, Venetian Mirror #5, 2022 8 × 8 in color photograph. Presented by Trépanier Baer
Nadia Belerique, Body In Trouble, 2022 installation. Presented by Daniel Faria Gallery
Ted Gahl, Figures by River, 2022, acrylic, moroccan pigments, graphite, oil pastel on canvas in artist’s frame 40 × 30 × 1 in. Presented by Towards

ART SHOW @ NAMARA projects

Daisy Chain, M, untitled 220201-180902, and Coronas (NAMARA Projects, ART SHOW)
Daisy Chain, M, untitled 220201-180902 (NAMARA Projects, ART SHOW)

A curated exhibition at the NAMARA Projects space, that took place October 22, 2022 — January 6, 2023. The works were selected from across several bodies of work and informed by the following tenets:

Practice here involves a persistent discovery and wielding of new creative tools, strategies, and ideas.
An aim to reveal the hybrid and fluid nature of things. 
This body is mine but I am not my body. 
Art is an unlikely extension of nature. 
Assistance as a partnership. 
Perspectivism reigns.

untitled, 2022-191219 in ART SHOW @ Namara Projects
Daisy ChainMuntitled 220201-180902Coronas, and Summer Fleece in ART SHOW @ Namara Projects
Summer FleeceWaves, and Room 15 2 in ART SHOW @ Namara Projects
Summer FleeceWavesRoom 15 2, and As the Sea Curves in ART SHOW @ Namara Projects
Room 15 2As the Sea Curves, and Homo Deus in ART SHOW @ NAMARA Projects
As the Sea CurvesHomo DeusDive, and Blue Lei in ART SHOW @ Namara Projects

I have been witnessing Alex Fischer’s practice throughout their professional career. Technology has always been instrumental to the artist’s process and its impact is evident in the content of resulting printed works. Fischer addresses narratives around technological production, online personhood, and digital authorship. These remain significant to the artist’s practice and hold new consequence in the age of tokenized digital art.

Equally important are the tethers Fischer maintains to traditional art and in particular, conventions of painting. The artist employs myriad digital brushstrokes. Textures, palettes and implied hand are sampled from historical and contemporary works alike. Fischer amalgamates manifold style, resulting in one that is undeniably their own. The artist’s oeuvre is in tension with itself. Seemingly unwilling to give in to digital tropes, visual language is neither a challenge nor concession to prevailing digital modes of artmaking.

Unlike previous series, collections or exhibitions, Art Show brings The Body to the fore. Dynamism characterizes youthful bodies, absorbed into their surroundings–or maybe not. Perhaps the figures are in fact emerging from their conditions. Are these scenes of struggle or performance? Are these avatars labouring within the digital space in which they were conceived–Seeking to separate, or at least to distinguish form from matter?

Fischer does not provide an answer. They embrace the “hybrid and fluid nature of things.” The artist plays with convention and embraces uncertainty. They point to the humanity in digital space without succumbing to it. Even in the more abstract compositions, the audience recognizes certain reflections: Eyes, limbs, movement, and flesh are present but more or less entwined with place.

Disentangling is work for the viewer.

Natalie MacNamara, Principal & Creative Director, NAMARA
Beside Two Hemispheres Called A Brain, 2022-190720, a unique 11×8½inch glossy gicleé with oil pastel, 16×13½ inch matted and framed.
M, 2022-140829, a unique 28×22½ inch matte gicleé mounted to aluminum, 30×24½ inch framed.
Waves, 2022-211217, a unique 12×7⅘ inch matte gicleé, 17;×12⅘ inch matted and framed.
Room 15 2, 2022-210428, a 49×40 inch exposure on 53×44 inch Fujiclear mounted acrylic, suspended
Coronas, 2022-200309, a unique 32×40inch matte gicleé mounted to aluminum, 34×42 inch framed.
Daisy Chain, 2022-220202, a unique 28×41½ inch matte gicleé mounted to aluminum, 30×43½ inch framed.
As the Sea Curves, 2022-180310, a unique 32½×26inch inch matte gicleé, 41½×35 inch matted and framed.
Blue Lei, 2022-150913, a unique 19×15 inch matte gicleé, 28×24 inch matted and framed.
Homo Deus, 2022-171224, a unique 87×58 inch matte gicleé mounted to aluminum.
Dive, 22022-220811, a unique 72×58 inch matte gicleé mounted to aluminum.