Troy Brooks, Heart of Glass, 2015. Oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches.

Troy Brooks, Heart of Glass, 2015. Oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches.


AUGUST 14 - 28, 2015

Special Gallery Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 11 am - 6 pm. 


The Red Head Gallery is pleased to present as part of their summer rental programme, Parabolic: A Toronto Group Exhibition of Pop Surrealism.

Curated by artist Troy Brooks, this eclectic mix of local artists are similarly and separately part of one of the most vital art movements to manifest in the last fifty years- a wave that is noticeably under‐represented in Toronto. Combining elements of graphic design, comic book narrative, and pop art, this work has an accessible impact on modern audiences and often people who generally don’t relate to the visual arts.


"Convincing a gallery to show my work in Toronto has not been easy, in spite of being approached by galleries from New York to Australia. One of the chief reasons I avoided a career in art for so long was that I didn’t see my work reflected in the city I grew up in. In the beginning stages I thought my images belonged in illustration, even though I wanted to do exhibitions.

Then one day I was visiting the studio of a friend who happened to have a huge framed Lori Earley print on the wall. It was like being hit over the head. It was the same eclectic blend of mannerist surrealism and pop art that I was doing. Then I discovered Ray Caesar, Lisa Yuskavage, John Currin, and so on, and I realized that there was a whole legitimate art movement that my work fit into perfectly. It had some monikers like “LowBrow” that challenged the stuffy art speak pretensions, but I came to discover that even though this wave of art has gathered a stunning momentum and has roots in a lot of established genres, it has typically been mostly excluded from the global art scene, which I suppose is customary to any new strain of a visual art movement. The old guard is always slow to accept. Or maybe it’s the humour of the genre- slightly juvenile, almost mocking traditional figurative art. 

At any rate, it took me forever to get my first show in Toronto. Finally, in 2010, John Rait, owner of Pentimento Gallery in Leslieville took a chance on showing my work. In many ways he operated outside the Slate Guide circuit of curators and had his own instinct for visual art. It was a neighbourhood gallery, unpretentious and welcoming. He created a very warm vibe and was always open to showing new emerging artists. We scheduled a solo show for the following October and I was amazed when most of the show sold on opening night. The next 4 years I worked at a solid pace, and we had 7 nearly sold out exhibitions in 5 years. When the contract with Pentimento ended I began to search for other galleries in the city. I thought with the success we’d been fortunate enough to have it wouldn’t be too difficult branching out within Toronto. I was wrong. For reasons which I’m not altogether clear on, Pop Surrealism has not been embraced by most established Toronto galleries.

For the last 5 years I’ve heard myself complaining about how absent this movement was in the gallery scene here in Toronto, even though I know from experience that there is definitely a market for it. At some point last year I decided that I should really stop looking at this as an obstacle and instead start thinking of it as an opportunity. Last year I decided to rent one of the TAC Gallery spaces with another artist and put on my own show. It was a great success and I decided to develop the idea of an annual event. The centrepiece painting in my TAC show was titled PARABOLIC, which I thought encapsulated what I liked best about pop surrealism, An epic fairy tale narrative under a veil of symbolism. It seemed like a fitting title for this group show."

- Troy Brooks, Parabolic Curator and Exhibitor

Contributing artists:

Troy Brooks -

Kyle Stewart -

Paul Saari -

Yang Cao -

Genevieve Blais -

Marjorie Campbell -

Christopher Hayes -

Stephanie Toth Maclean -