“A Day in the Life” with Toronto visual artist Rob Nicholls

It’s not a massive coincidence that I met Rob Nicholls on the Toronto music scene; his dynamic approach to painting, by his own admission, is intertwined with that of music making. His art is rich and textured and it certainly feels like it lives in some kind of a magical musical world. I’m such a big fan of what he does that I am in the market to commission a work of art from him for my apartment. But don’t think that the only reason for these flattering words is to do him a favour so he in turn can paint me a beautiful picture… that is not the ONLY reason.

Rob has been plying his trade in studio spaces around the city since receiving his Masters in Fine Art from the University of Waterloo. He has shown his striking and earthy creations across Canada in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. For the statisticians among you that’s 9,454 km by road, but what’s even more incredible is that Rob didn’t drive or fly… he walked, dragging his cart full of artwork behind him.

Don’t ask me how long it took, all I know is he wheeled back into Toronto just in time for his latest exhibition, Spirit Trails at Angell Gallery. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing it and there are some absolutely stunning works on display that will make you say “wow” (if not out loud, then in your head).

– William Bembridge

Rob Nicholls
At the opening of my exhibition, Spirit Trails
Rob Nicholls
Hanging out with my pal Chris Pitts and his crew of boom box collectors in Trinity Bellwood’s last summer. Great chance to listen to my new demo on cassette!
Rob Nicholls
I just moved to a more spacious studio in Toronto, so I have tons of space now to work
Rob Nicholls
Between pubs downtown Toronto on Richmond St. with my pals posing in front of a posh night club with my new kicks!
Rob Nicholls
I pretty much always like to listen to music when I’m painting
Rob Nicholls
Crystal Mirrors, which is currently on display at Angell Gallery in Toronto
Rob Nicholls
My fave chill pastime in the summer eating soft serve from an ice cream truck on Toronto in Queen West!
Rob Nicholls
When I break from painting, I generally experiment with my music equipment which I keep setup in my studio


What ‘hood are you in?

My studio is located in the historical 401 Richmond building on the second floor facing Richmond St. The area is Spadina and Richmond just south of Queen west in the heart of downtown Toronto.

What do you do?

I am a visual artist primarily working as a painter working with oil on canvas. I teach painting at OCADU. I have been working as a sessional instructor in the Drawing and Painting department at OCADU since 2013.

I’m also a musician playing under the moniker Provincial Parcs. I make electronica and electro-funk music using vintage and new synthesizers and drum machines.

As an integral part of my studio practice I go back and forth between painting and playing music, it’s a way I’ve been working for years now. I enjoy the reciprocity between the two art forms and how they feed into one another. There is is something magical about the meditative quality of a droning chord played on a synth to the repetitious act of laying down brush strokes to canvas.

What are you currently working on? 

As of current I’m exploring animation in my studio. As such, I am experimenting with stop motion and digital animation to bring my paintings to life in film. I’m working on scoring the animations as well. The aim is to create an enveloping experience of a visually feathery flora world that pulses along to a musical composition.

Where can we find your work?

My work is currently on view in my solo show Spirit Trails at Angell Gallery located at 15-1444 Dupont St. Toronto ON. The exhibition runs until February 9th 2019.



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Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography