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Canadian Artist of the Week
LOOK AT THIS: Shary Boyle’s Intimate Figures And Fantastical Visions
October 26, 2013
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Ophiodea, 2013

This morning, Strombo.com kicks off LOOK AT THIS, a new weekly series featuring the work of Canadian artists, designers and creators of all sorts. First up: Shary Boyle, the Toronto artist chosen to represent Canada at the 55th Venice Biennale, the major contemporary art exhibition that takes place every other year in Venice.

Name: Shary Boyle

Born: Scarborough, Ontario, 1972

Lives and works: Toronto

Current Exhibition: Music for Silence, an "immersive environment" made up of all-new sculptures, paintings and projections meditating on the themes of solitude and silence for the Pavillion of Canada at the Venice Biennale. Boyle took over every inch of the building, starting with Ophiodea, a masked child in bronze unfurling colourful ribbons outside. “I attempted to be as honest and generous and tender and vulnerable as I could in the hope that people would come feel that, receive it and open themselves up as well,” she told Canadian Art.

What you need to know: Over the last two decades, Boyle's work has ranged from delicate (and occasionally disturbing) porcelain figurines to drawings in hand-bound books, large-scale installations and even audio-visual collaborations with musicians like Feist and Peaches. Her work has often been highly intimate and emotional, exploring archetypes and fantastical themes in works that display a high degree of craftsmanship. Central to much of her work are concerns about class, gender and inequality.

What you may not know: Boyle was the lead singer of a punk band in high school called Liquid Joy ("Ghost greetings to Cameron, Tom and Ted, wherever they are!," she told Strombo.com)

Another Canadian artist she likes: "At this moment I am really impressed with Graeme Patterson's exhibit Secret Citadel at the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Graeme lives in tiny Sackville, NB, where he works feverishly and with great originality to render his internal world in vast, intimate detail. Patterson's sculpture and animation work addresses the alienation, grief and yearning for connection straight males feel in a competitive, patriarchal culture. At least that's what I get out of it!"

What's next: An album recorded outside Whitehorse with 10 "profound, hilarious and gifted songwriters from across Canada" for Headless Owl and You've Changed Records. "Singing a bit of back-up, providing the visuals and watching these artists whole-heartedly share and improvise was a highlight of my year," she told Strombo.com. The album is due to be released next spring.

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