JOANNE TOD “THE SCREEN”, 1993
Joanne Tod (b.1953) is a renowned Canadian artist and a master of figurative painting, on the same level of mastery as Alex Colville and Christopher Pratt.
Tod has depicted a wide range of subjects throughout her illustrious career. The human figure, pattern, and interiors have been reoccurring and essential elements of Tod's oeuvre.
Tod's representation of both public and residential scenes is part of a constant evolution inspired by her innate desire to experiment and stretch the possibility for imagining pictorial spaces.
“The Screen” depicts the renowned Henry Moore Sculpture Centre, an iconic and internationally acclaimed permanent exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Showcasing Tod's delicate, deliberate hand, the cumulation of soft strokes in this piece join together to render a gentle realism, the cornerstone of her aesthetic.
Distinctive to this piece is the addition of a translucent polyester overlay anchored in the center of the work, creating an illusion of space that prompts the viewer to imagine what it’d be like to walk through the room and experience Moore's work first hand.
From a contemporary vantage point, it is easy to assume that Tod was engaging in an early form of institutional critique. Why does the most prominent museum in Ontario devout such significant real estate to a British artist...who has almost no connection to Toronto.
For Tod, the 1200 sq foot gallery was a symbol of the complexities of Modernism, both locally and beyond. Tod recalls a series of milestones in Toronto that she considered; the city's futuristic city hall designed by Viljo Revell completed in 1965, the unveiling of the Henry Moore Gallery at the AGO in 1974, and it's ongoing redesign/expansion that lasted until 1977. The aesthetics of both large and small forms, whether in architecture, interiors, or in sculpture itself, fuse mid-century simplicity with the Brutalism of the mid-'70s. The visual elements and civic accomplishments are contrasted with the Moore sculpture in the left corner. Tod had always interpreted this Moore work as a depiction of a mushroom cloud, produced by the atom bomb. A much darker, and tragic symbol of modernity.
Works from this era and in this scale are mostly found in public collections. This is a rare opportunity to acquire a masterpiece from one of Canada's most accomplished figurative painters.
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Oil on two layers of polyester
Signed, titled, and dated verso
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