Stefan Berg’s ‘Still Lives In Architecture’ Celebrates The Urban Landscape Of Toronto, Ontario

When you tap into the nuances of housing and home - from visual and experiential levels - it's a source of reflection and inspiration. After all, dwellings are non-verbal signs defining and communicating who we are - just like the contents within. Because we know that our identities, both social and personal, are inevitably linked through home's form, style, and decor, our residence is the ultimate expression of who we are. Our housing is a symbol of self!

Beyond shelter and comfort, I'm fascinated by how housing functions as a reflection of personal trends, tastes, and practices, and those of society at large. So, when Burke Paterson from United Contemporary Gallery - located at 1444 Dupont Street, Unit 22 - reached out to share with me the upcoming show, ‘Still Lives of Architecture', I was immediately intrigued. Running from March 2 to April 6 and exclusively featuring the work of painter Stefan Berg, I was curious how his work might "incorporate themes of urbanization, gentrification, and climate, and zero in on the subtleties of shade, light ,and space presented by some of Toronto’s architectural landscape".

 

* United Contemporary Gallery

 

Berg's work mostly centers on architecture that you’ll find in Toronto’s east end, where he lives, works and draws his inspiration from. He explores the relationship between physical edifice and natural backdrop, lending a new appreciation for urban development. Each painting is unique and painstaking, taking months to complete, as he paints his subjects live - which means ongoing changes to light and shadow over the course of the project.

 

* 'Main Square #11' By Stefan Berg

 

* 'Main Square #10' By Stefan Berg

 

* 'Don Valley #2' by Stefan Berg

 

I love this about Berg's work, for its representative of the complex layering that comes as our urban fabric evolves over time. As Toronto experiences the pressures of population growth, economic expansion, changing land uses, and the push and pull of competing interests, our sight lines change. Some times these changes are subtle, as seen in Berg's art. Other times they're radical, which is often the subject of my own writing about Toronto real estate, like in this post called A Brief History On The Intensification Of The Danforth In Toronto, which includes the geography where Berg's studio is located. 

 

* 'Trent Street #1' by Stefan Berg

 

* 'Kingston Road #1' by Stefan Berg.

 

This piece from Blog TO describes some of Berg’s work and methodology. Much like we do through observation, his work is built in layers, when new perspective is presented. Your previous notions aren’t erased, but are rather fused with your new point of view to create a more holistic experience.

I love this quote by Burke Paterson's describing the show: “The paintings in Still Lives of Architecture depict Toronto landscape today, yesterday, last year, and ten years ago. Each variation is informed by the previous versions, as Berg revisits the subject layering onto the canvas another day’s deliberate observations. These paintings depict a time which is neither the past nor the present, but rather a prolonged time condensed in an instant. The buildings and structures we call architecture lead very still lives, like bricks set in mortar; yet, when seen through Berg’s eyes, in different light and across time, these still lives become something active, something moving."

 

* 'Bay Bloor Looking West #2' by Stefan Berg

 

One of my favourites is Berg’s interpretation of the urban vista presented in 'Bay Bloor Looking West #2'. That intersection is arguably the nexus of Toronto’s 'bright lights big city' synergy - the lynchpin of high-end retail and other exquisite amenities along the “Mink Mile”. In Berg's piece Elevation gives new context, literally and figuratively in this painting that displays the landscape available to the viewer from the Manulife Centre. There is a simultaneous sense of seclusion and connectedness, which in many ways describes the urban experience.

I recently wrote about three condominiums on Bloor near Bay - which can be seen in the painting above and where many suites enjoy a similar view - and how they were developed to cater to the affluent buyers of three different ethnicities. In Housing As A Symbol Of Self, I explore how the development industry identifies and target specific buyer profiles in order to garner top dollar, knowing a view from "Bay & Bloor" can translate into profit. I can envision Berg's piece hanging on a wall of one of these condominiums, being celebrated for its technical mastery while reflecting the good taste of its buyer. How amazing a painting in a condo with a similar view would reflect both the identity of its occupants through their decision to purchase it, the identity of the painter for choosing to create it, and the identity of the setting for its representation of place in that moment in time.

It's fitting this painting could encompass so much in its scope, because it communicates the essence of the variety and the texture of this particular place which promotes the very best in urban living, with highly coveted amenities at every turn. As this painting suggests, even when you occupy a single point (i.e. your home), your experience casts a much wider net.

 

Does occupying this point of view appeal to you?

Consider these listings located near Bloor & Bay that Urbaneer proudly offers: A Signature Commercial/Residential Victorian On Avenue Road In Yorkville Village Offered For $3,858,888 or Culture, Couture & Contemporary Living At Casa Condominio Near Yonge & Bloor Offered For $2,388,800.

 

~ Posted by Steven Fudge, the purveyor of houseporn.ca and proprietor of Urbaneer, a division of Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage.

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Posted In: Ontario

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