Art Toronto Draws on Portugal and Bold New Leadership to Mark 20 Years

 

On October 25-27, 2019, Art Toronto, Canada’s international fair for modern and contemporary art, will fill the Metro Toronto Convention Centre with creativity and conversation as it marks its 20th year with bold new leadership and cues from Portugal’s flourishing arts scene. As Canada’s most important annual art event, Art Toronto has attracted top leadership talent on both a local and international level with the appointments of Mia Nielsen as the new director of Art Toronto and esteemed curator João Ribas for this year’s FOCUS: Portugal, an exhibit featuring work from Portuguese galleries and artists. 

Mia Nielsen is a veteran in Toronto’s vibrant art scene, for the last 12 years as curator and director of Art + Culture at The Drake, she developed an exhibition and events program that brought national and international acclaim to the Queen West Hotel and later to subsequent locations, including Drake Devonshire. Under her leadership, the brand commissioned major installations and performances from internationally recognized artists including Douglas Coupland, Peaches and FAILE. She also developed a reputation as a talent spotter, giving exhibition opportunities to artists early in their careers such as Sara Cwynar, Curtis Talwst Santiago, Tau Lewis and many others.  Nielsen has been instrumental in The Drake’s previous partnerships with Art Toronto, as well as a vital member of the fair’s Opening Night hot-ticket Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) benefit gala committee for four years. Her jury experience includes Public Art for the City of Toronto, Nuit Blanche, Toronto Sculpture Garden and public sculpture for the Pan Am Games. A natural collaborator, Nielsen brings a passion for creating deeper connections within Canada’s bustling arts scene and beyond.  

Mia Neilsen, Director of Art Toronto

“Art Toronto has grown to become a hugely influential and well-respected player in the global art fair game,” said Mia Nielsen, Director of Art Toronto. “In 2019 we’ll build on that success with progressive programming and exhibitions of new artists and galleries to engage audiences in the incredible diversity of artworks shown at the fair. With over 100 galleries, the fair provides unique access to the Canadian art market for seasoned collectors and the ideal environment for those curious about art to learn more.”

 

In addition to featuring the most celebrated galleries from across Canada and around the world, this year’s fair will showcase the curatorial practice of João Ribas, the 2019 FOCUS: Portugal exhibition curator. With experience working at some of the world’s most respected cultural institutions, Ribas has made a name for himself in the international art world. He brings his eye to Art Toronto following curating the Portuguese Pavilion for the 58th Venice Biennale this month. Ribas has served as director of the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto, curator of MIT List Centre and curator of The Drawing Center, New York. 

“The exhibition for FOCUS: Portugal will feature emerging Portuguese artists whose practices reflect and question our current global reality. Spanning painting, sculpture, moving image and performance, the work of this new generation proposes different approaches to the most urgent and critical issues of our present moment, from artificial intelligence and fake news, to the geopolitical reorientations that will shape our future,” said João Ribas, curator of FOCUS: Portugal. “This particular presentation aims to demonstrate the vitality and relevance of these practices at a local and international level."

Portugal is having a major moment art-wise and is emerging as a world leader in arts and culture as it continues to make headlines for its hot arts scene, especially in cities such as Lisbon and Porto. In the nation’s capital city, new galleries continue to open their doors and its vibrant art industry attracts a growing number of international dealers and artists. Most recently, international galleries like Monitor (Rome), Maisterravalbuena (Madrid) and Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel (São Paulo) have opened second locations in Lisbon.  For 2019, Art Toronto will unite both the Portuguese artistic community and the creative talents of artists globally.  

Under the guidance of Nielsen and the international perspective of Ribas, Art Toronto 2019 will join art aficionados and the art-curious from all backgrounds for a not-to-miss weekend celebrating 20 years and to further solidify Art Toronto’s place as a leading global art event.  

João Ribas, curator of FOCUS: Portugal