Contrary to its name, a translation from the Italian word meaning sketch, Abbozzo Gallery, is a step-up from preliminary drawings; it exhibits impressive works of local and international art while offering a complete range of fine art services from in-home consultation to corporate art management.
Director, Ineke Zigrossi established Abbozzo in Oakville in 1993, focusing on her area of expertise; Canadian Modern and Contemporary Art. Today, Abbozzo has moved to the Toronto Entertainment District, located on the first floor of 401 Richmond.
The open-concept, brightly lit gallery space is sectioned off into four parts, with an emphasis on the largest two sections holding Abbozzo’s prominent and dynamic exhibited art. Sitting behind a large desk at the back of the gallery is Associate Director Marco Rosada. He is relatively new to the Abbozzo team and previously worked in galleries throughout Europe before coming to Toronto in 2017. The gallery was appealing to Marco because of “the skill and knowledge of the management and their ambition to make Abbozzo an internationally recognized art gallery.”
Marco greets me as I’m admiring a stunning collection of intimate, up-close oil paintings. They are done by Canadian painter, Richard A. Jacobson. He uses “hyper-realistic painting techniques to arrest the viewer and give them time to have a conversation with the piece,” explains Richard on his website.
Richard is a recurring artist featured at the gallery. His latest work is focused on narrative based, realistic still life paintings. The work is captivating because it mimics the way humans actually see, but for Richard, paintings are successful “when it meshes with a person’s life,” if the viewer of the painting “can tell a story about it…then the painting will live on.” Marco and I study the piece, which shows an odd assortment of battered books among what appears to be other personal treasures painted in strikingly vivid hues.
“Particularly in Toronto, the average collector looks for colourful art that makes a significant visual impact and makes a statement which is typical of buyers who live in big cities where the grey color, in all its shades, is dominant,” Marco acknowledges, while reflecting on the striking differences between art culture in Canada compared to Europe.
European “art collectors focus their attention on the expressive power of an artwork, its historical referrals and references, and the artist’s career history.” This is fundamentally different in contrast with a typical Canadian collector who is “more instinctive, buys to own forever, and pays a lot of attention to the capacity of the artwork to please the eye.”
Marco tells me Abbozzo is the third contemorary gallery he has worked in and points to one of the smaller sections of the gallery. It is the new feature gallery displaying artwork from up-and-coming artists aiming to give visibility to the next generation of creatives.
Being a Canadian art dealer “requires you to be a knowledgeable talent scouter and mentor as we have a lot of young artists whose work deserves a chance to be seen.” Canadians are receptive and eager to learn, coinciding with the responsibility dealers have over the community by “spreading art education by any means available and spending time with buyers to educate them to look at an artwork like a collector rather than a one-time buyer.”
Abbozzo recently launched an informational project and is extending the educational facet of the gallery. The content is exclusively made up of videos, hand selected and sorted by subject with topics varying from How to look at an artwork to Investing in art.
“We have opted to use videos specifically for their digestibility, ease of access across different platforms and devices, and the ease in which they deliver their lessons to the viewer,” says Marco.
The Abbozzo team is maintaining its local and Canadian focus. This fall, it’s exhibiting the art from Niam Jian, who is a 15-year-old artist with autism. He uses his artwork to express his “innermost feelings, thoughts and expressions,” as Niam explains on his website. He specializes in General Abstract Art and Abstract Expressionism and is gaining the attention from art enthusiasts all over North America. Marco says this will be a solo show taking over the entire gallery just before Abbozzo celebrates its 25th anniversary in November.
Over the years the gallery has garnered a reputable following through the artists it features but also through the range of art services it provides. As Abbozzo is crossing the threshold into another 25 years of exhibiting quality, world-class art – Marco’s knowledge of foreign art markets are internationalizing the gallery’s aesthetic while it’s continuing to bolster its Canadian contemporary roaster. Celebrations for its milestone are currently in the works and is something the Toronto Entertainment District and art enthusiasts are keeping a keen eye on.
Stay tuned on @Toronto_Ed for details about Abbozzo’s 25th anniversary celebrations