STATE OF THE ART

The world’s love af­fair with pop art is about to lay down some se­ri­ous roots in Toront0

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When An­drew Bock­ner, the de­signer and owner of high­end furniture bou­tique An­drew Richard De­signs in Toronto’s east end had the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pand the furniture show­room space, he jumped at the op­por­tu­nity. But once he saw the space empty, he had an­other idea. “I thought: This is the most beau­ti­ful Chelsea-style art gallery that doesn’t ex­ist yet in Toronto,” says the long-time art en­thu­si­ast. “The type of art that I like and that I col­lect just isn’t avail­able in Toronto, and there are so many up-and-com­ing street artists, and graf­fiti artists, and even some pop artists, some of the masters—that are just not shown or given space.” And the idea struck: “I de­cided to give this space to the art com­mu­nity in the city,” he says, and that was the be­gin­ning of Struck Con­tem­po­rary. The gallery show­cases big-name pop artists such as Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, Takashi Mu­rakami, and Roy Licht­en­stein, as well as new tal­ents such as Matt Barnes, Jayscale, and San­dra Chevrier, who are push­ing bound­aries, amass­ing a grow­ing fan base and carv­ing a place for the next gen­er­a­tion of “greats.”

Bock­ner notes that while the rest of the world seems to be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a ma­jor in­ter­est in con­tem­po­rary art, the uptick hasn’t quite reached Toronto. “If you look at the scene in the US or even in Eu­rope, th­ese artists are ev­ery­where, and they’re do­ing some amaz­ing things. But it doesn’t have much legs in Toronto just yet.”

Since the gallery’s open­ing in Oc­to­ber of last year, Bock­ner has al­ready played a role in get­ting Toronto on track, and has vir­tu­ally “cre­ated col­lec­tors” out of peo­ple who never thought they’d have such a re­ac­tion to the fine art hung in a gallery, or such a strong ap­pre­ci­a­tion for it. But with its colourful art­works fea­tur­ing to­day’s most rec­og­nized pop-culture icons such as David Bowie and Michael Jack­son, new­com­ers are find­ing them­selves moved.

“Peo­ple are re­al­iz­ing that art like this can take you away a lit­tle bit,” he says. “It can give you a kind of en­joy­ment you didn’t think you could get out of it.” And frankly, it’s a re­ac­tion he says he ex­pected. Bock­ner sees the move­ment be­com­ing even big­ger over the next few years. “The pulse of this in­dus­try seems to be phys­i­cally mov­ing right in front of our eyes, and I think Toronto is re­ally go­ing to get into this,” he says. Watch for Struck Con­tem­po­rary’s pop-up gallery, set to run this sum­mer in Toronto’s Rosedale neigh­bour­hood. struck­con­tem­po­rary.com

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