Take a trip through Toronto's complicated street art history with iconic graffiti artist Elicser
Graffiti is thriving in today's Toronto — but there's more to that story than you might think
In the 1980s, Toronto City Council debated a controversial law that would require "exterior walls be kept free of slogans and markings, those which deface or disfigure." Two decades later, former Toronto mayor Rob Ford promised, "Everywhere that there is graffiti, I will guarantee that we will be removing it."
But today as you look around Toronto, the art form is thriving. A simple walk down Graffiti Alley — the first legalized graffiti zone in the city — can feel like rush hour traffic with the amount of photographers, engaged couples and bloggers hoping to give their Instagram account some street cred. Clearly, public perception has changed over the years. And one of the artists at the forefront of that evolution has been Elicser.
Watch the video:
Elicser's large-scale work covers neighbourhoods from Toronto to Cape Town. He's painted on buildings, electrical boxes and trees, and in the past few years has added gallery work on canvases as well. His signature style focuses on abstract, emotional and deeply personal portraits that elicit melancholy nostalgia and unrequited love. But while many view graffiti art as innately political, he maintains, "I am not a political painter." He's just made the outside world his canvas.
In the above video, CBC Arts: Exhibitionists host Amanda Parris visits Elicser in his studio, providing a fun and intimate look at an artist who prefers to let his work speak for him.
Elicser's latest piece entitled "T Dot Rooftop" can be seen at The McMichael Canadian Art Collection as part of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. It's part of the exhibition Everything Remains Raw: Photographing Toronto's Hip Hop Culture from Analogue to Digital (March 3 – October 21, 2018).
Watch CBC Arts: Exhibitionists on Friday nights at 11:30pm (12am NT) and Sundays at 3:30pm (4pm NT) on CBC Television.