By: Tara MacIntosh
For Thompson Landry Gallery’s cofounders, Joanne Thompson and Sylvain Landry, talking about art all day is an absolute dream. Back in 2006, the art lovers opened their gallery in Toronto’s historic Distillery District, allowing collectors and art aficionados to purchase contemporary Quebec art within city limits. “We loved the Quebec art scene and quickly discovered there was nothing like it available in Toronto. We really wanted to bring celebrated Quebec-based artists to the city,” says Thompson. The gallery first started showing pieces in the Distillery District’s serene Stone Space built in the 1860s. “We fell in love with the Victorian industrial architecture here. The space was raw at the time, but we visualized the beauty underneath,” she remembers. “So, we decided to sandblast everything to reveal the limestone walls and double beams, both perfect elements for absorbing the artwork while giving our clients an intimate experience.” The space has abundant natural light and high ceilings for larger pieces.
“THE FOCUS HERE IS ON THE ARTWORK; IT IS A DARKER AND MOODIER ATMOSPHERE. THERE IS A GROWING INTEREST IN INTERNATIONALLY ACCLAIMED CANADIAN ARTISTS, AND THIS SPACE TRULY REPRESENTS THEM WELL.”
Just a couple of years after opening, in 2008, the interest in contemporary Quebec artists had grown, so the pair opened a second location, this time in the Cooperage Space. This additional 4,300-square-foot area has a rustic vibe and museum-quality lighting. “The focus here is on the artwork; it is a darker and moodier atmosphere. There is a growing interest in internationally acclaimed Canadian artists, and this space truly represents them well.”
The staff at Thompson Landry Gallery, which is still the only gallery in the city specializing in Quebec artists, are no strangers to hosting exhibitions and special events throughout the year. For 2023, so far there are three impressive exhibits planned that Thompson is excited about. The first is Danielle Lanteigne, whose work was shown in April and early May. Lanteigne reshapes objects such as flowers, fruit and tables with bold and unexpected colours. She has painted for more than 30 years and has amassed an international following. Then, from May 18 to June 11, Paul Beliveau’s work will be showcased. Beliveau reveals shades of blue, purple, yellow, red and green in this exhibition focusing on his Vanitas series that features the spines of books. In the fall, an exhibit that includes purist France Jodoin will be available from September 21 to October 15. She transforms cityscapes, landscapes, and seascapes, consistently taking her audience to another time and place. Jodoin has been painting for more than 20 years and always presents an incredible canvas.
While the gallery (which is often rented out after hours for special occasions and celebrations) prides itself on highlighting incredible artists and their stunning works, Thompson also ensures guests are met with an inviting atmosphere. “We work with our clients to ensure the utmost in comfort. We invite them to relax, linger, experience the art, and truly take in the piece before they purchase,” she says. “We curate the same experience for first-time visitors and those who intimately know the masters. We welcome everyone who walks in our door.” The design of the space includes thoughtfully placed nooks and crannies where patrons can ponder the works on display.
Of course, beautiful art is meant to be enjoyed, and Thompson and her team have ensured their featured artists are displayed with pride and care. New pieces come in regularly, which is one of the many reasons why patrons frequent the gallery. Thompson has made solid relationships with clients, and word of mouth keeps the place bustling with people who love nothing more than magnificent paintings, fascinating sculptures and other brilliant works of art.