February 2020
Landscape Artist of the Year Canada debut
Starting on February 16, a new reality TV series Landscape Artist of the Year Canada, airing on Makeful, features Joanne Tod as an expert juror of the painting competition that brings together 18 professional artists alongside 50 hopefuls to compete for a chance to be crowned Landscape Artist of the Year Canada. Hosted by Sook-Yin Lee, the four-part series sees Tod, along with Marc Mayer, former Director of the National Gallery of Canada, determine the winners until only one artist remains. Landscape Artist of the Year Canada airs Sundays at 9 pm ET/PT, starting February 16.
January 18, 2020
Realisms: Canadian Art, 1850 to the Present exhibition
Spanning more than a century, Realisms is a group exhibition that examines the multifaceted ways in which the idea of “realism” has been visually interpreted by Canadian artists throughout history. The exhibition explores the work of painters who have, like Alex Colville, complicated the line between dreams and reality, or Joanne Tod, who brings into question the meaning of “real” in an age of virtual reality. On view at Museum London, until May 3, 2020.
December 12, 2019
Peindre la Nature Avec un Miroir exhibition
On view at Museé d’art contemporain in Montréal, the exhibition Peindre la Nature Avec un Miroir (Painting with a Mirror) provides a portrait of Canadian painting in the 1980s, with works from the collection by Sylvie Bouchard, Joseph Branco, Gathie Falk, Betty Goodwin, Kathleen Graham, John Heward, Robert Houle, Lynn Hughes, Harold Klunder, Wanda Koop, Medrie MacPhee, Martha Fleming and Lyne Lapointe, Sandra Meigs, Ron Moppett, François Morelli, Leopold Plotek, Leslie Reid, Susan G. Scott, Joanne Tod, Carol Wainio, and Shirley Wiitasalo. On view until March 15, 2020.

Tod studied in Toronto at the Ontario College of Art during the mid-1970s, at the height of conceptualism ­– a period in art when painting was being questioned for its indebtedness to the traditions of representation. Tod embraced the theories of the time by examining the role of painting through painting itself. While her realism carries on conventions of the medium, her subject matter is firmly tied to contemporary discourse and ideas, with themes that critique such topical issues as social and ethnic identity, cultural appropriation, feminism, and corporate and political power.
Her earliest paintings were ambitious renderings of interiors mixed with images gleaned from subculture magazines and current news. In 1978, for her first solo show, held at YYZ Artists’ Outlet in Toronto, Tod exhibited Mao: Six Uncommissioned Portraits, based on newswire photographs of the Communist Chinese leader Mao Tse Tung shaking hands with visiting dignitaries, including U.S. President Richard Nixon in 1972. The series rendered Mao and his political counterparts with the kind of clarity associated with propaganda posters, though they appear on backgrounds of flat abstract colour. The visual contrast between foreground and background reads as a critique of the theoretical shifts happening in the art world at that time, between representation and abstraction. Many of the ideas explored in the Mao series are still at the core of Tod’s practice, especially her fascination with the visual and intellectual friction between popular imagery and the fine art world in which she inhabits, as an artist, a professor, and board member of various art institutions.
Another element that characterizes her work is scale. Her paintings are oftentimes massive and communicate authority, while also referencing a similar spatial presence like a movie screen or billboard. Interiors, which are a recurring subject, especially institutional hallways, have been referred to as “walk in” spaces, due to the sensation of being able to step right into the frame. Technically, they are rendered to near photographic likeness, yet her measured brushstrokes remain visible, allowing realism and the artist’s hand to cohabitate. A similar kind of frisson appears in her titles, which are lyrical and poetic rather than descriptive, as if to remind us that interpretation isn’t restricted to the artist’s intention.