Joanne Tod



Joanne Tod (b.1953) is a renowned Canadian artist and a master of figurative painting, of the same caliber, and importance as Alex Colville and Christopher Pratt. 

Throughout her illustrious career, Tod has depicted a wide range of subjects. The human figure, pattern, and interiors have been reoccurring and essential elements of her oeuvre. 

One of the ongoing themes in Tod's work has been the aesthetics, craftsmanship, and connoisseurship of the decorative arts. For example, her series of paintings of carpet runners, which appear to march off the canvas, is a well-known paradigm.

Over the past 15 years, Tod has depicted an array of vases, revelling in the details, shadowed curves, and intricate reflections on their surfaces. Such decorative objects, particularly vases or crockery, have varied presentations whether in situ or hovering on a discordant background.

Completed in 2022, "Ambergris" is a fresh addition to this signature body of work. The image features an illuminated tortoiseshell vessel mysteriously suspended above a tumultuous ocean. The dramatic weather calls into question the relationship between the vessel and its surroundings, asking the viewer to contemplate the ambiguity of these two figurative elements joined together. Is there an ecological message here?

Traditionally tortoiseshell, prized and used since antiquity, is a material taken from turtles or tortoises, praised for its luminous mottled surface, and used for an array of decorative and functional objects. Beginning in the 1970's and culminating in 2014 the worldwide trade of this material was outlawed. Engineers and craftsman have since been able to replicate it in a range of natural and synthetic alternatives including acetate and horn. Here Tod seems to be showing how glassmakers can similarly mimic the material and its attributes. 

Today, Joanne Tod's works can be found in most major public institutions across Canada including the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), and the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal. 

Questions about this piece? Contact us or call +1.416.704.1720


Canada, 2022

Watercolor on cold pressed Arches paper

Signed verso

23.75"H 18"W (work)

31.75"H 25.75"W (framed)

Very good condition.

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