Artist in Review: Thrush Holmes

Thrush Holmes. What can I say? This self-taught Toronto-based artist has exhibited widely throughout Canada and the US, and has been placed among Canada’s top-selling living artists. His works have been referred to as fresh, raw, showy, vulgar, larger-than-life, and yet, simultaneously delicate, detailed, subtle, and suffused, somehow, with loneliness and yearning. I like to think of them as vibrant pieces of life, love and loss by using a wide variety of mediums such as neon lighting, magazines, etc.

Recently moving away from his sought-after gallery and studio space – Thrush Holmes Empire – this modest and honest artist picked up his very public space and moved himself over to a more reclusive area of King East, in which I was able to hunt him down to see what he was up to and what post-Thrush Holmes Empire looked like.   

The Questions/The Answers

What is the message you are trying to convey from the work that you do as an artist?
There is no single message. My work is fairly pluralistic. The more one digests, the more expert he may become at assembling the puzzle.

What’s your daily mantra?
This is too hippie for me. Every day is complex and brings a new set of variables. I’m forever improvising.

What was the biggest risk you ever took in your career as an artist?
There have been so many. My desire for risk is insatiable. Withdrawing from a relationship with one of the biggest art dealers in the southern United States on account of principle and without a backup plan was likely the biggest in my history.


How does your current series you are working on differ from past work? 
It’s always different. I’ll throw myself under the bus to make work that is fresh. I’m A.D.D like that.

How can our YP readers follow and preview your works? Do you have any shows coming up?
I’m taking a year off exhibitions – unless something incredible arises. I overdid it with shows when I was younger. Exhibitions have become a distraction in recent years. I have a bit of a line-up for available work with collectors abroad, so I’m using this time to get my stock up. Best way to preview work is through my website Thrush Holmes. I’m represented by Angell Gallery in Toronto – this is another outlet.

You recently moved on from The Thrush Holmes Empire, what has changed?
I’m harder to get to. My last studio was very public. That project seemed to drag on. I had intended the life of it to be three years, but it turned to five. My new situation is quite private. I can only compare the move to pruning a tree in an effort to bring more nutrients to what is important.


Should art need to be explained?
Not necessarily. Insight is valuable, however. I think a responsible artist should be able to or should feel inclined to back his work up. Unfortunately many galleries assert an “artist statement” to accompany exhibitions – an artist is sometimes tasked with writing these haikus in an effort to sum up his work. It’s a few paragraphs of hell, typically of little substance. Dialogue is important and can enrich the experience. It can, however, ruin it just the same.


What do you think Toronto’s strong points are as the art hub in Canada? What’s lacking?
We have an impressive stable of artists doing really great and singular work. The market, however, is quite small. We’re still conservative with respect to art collecting; however, the tide seems to be slowly shifting.

Be sure to check out Thrush’s displayed at Klaus!, worth the trip over to King Street East.

Also, DON’ T FORGET TO PURCHASE TICKETS for one of my favourite art fairs in Toronto, The Artist Project. Opening evening is Thursday February 21st, 2013.

Have Fun & Heart Art!