“A Day in the Life” with contemporary realism painter, Brandon Steen

The incredible artwork of Brandon Steen encapsulates all that has drawn me to the study of Toronto’s history. His brilliant, crystalline studies of under-appreciated Toronto homes and businesses highlight numerous charming details one can too easily miss in a busy streetscape. With his incredible rendering of minute details, you find yourself absorbed by elements you’d miss in the actual building itself. Brickwork, drainpipes, roofing shingles, windows and mouldings become almost magical and give you an appreciation for the early Torontonians whose craftsmanship they echo.

Beyond simply highlighting a structure’s architectural delights, Brandon is also sharing its hidden history with us. Layering a painting with biographical details of its owner, products and purpose, he is helping us to understand what it meant to its community and how it related to the broader city itself. Here too he adds clues to residents’ intimate stories of injustice, heartbreak and triumph. These are the Toronto stories we seldom hear but the ones which can best help us to understand our city.

Written by Kate Taylor – Author

Brandon Steen
Walking the Potatoes, aka Dolores and Fionn, before work
Artist Brandon Steen’s 2022 solo show Gorta Mór. Photo by: Gary Ray Rush
Studio speakers pumping out the album Taste with Rory Gallagher
Brandon Steen
Artist Brandon Steen. Photo by: Jane Holden
Brandon Steen
Artist Brandon Steen at work in his Leaside studio
Brandon Steen
A selection of Brandon Steen’s favourite brushes
Steak and Potatoes, 30′ x 40′, 2018, Brandon Steen
The Vesta, 60′ x 40′, 2020, Brandon Steen

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Which hood are you in?

Leaside

What do you do?

I work as a full-time contemporary realism painter with the Elaine Fleck Gallery in Toronto. In addition, I work as a full-time caregiver to my wife who suffers from myalgic encephalomyelitis. I am inspired to capture the city’s architectural history, somewhat obsessed with bricks. Holding up a mirror to the beauty in the mundane before it’s gone forever.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently producing a series of paintings exploring the idea that humanity is increasingly seeing life through pixelated digital screens and less seeing life before us in real-time. Those pixels are comprised of red, green and blue dots or RGB. This show is ambitious and will take three years to finally materialize. I have to thank my gallerist Elaine Fleck here for always supporting my vision. The first act, so to speak RGB VOL RED opens in June 2023 at the Elaine Fleck Gallery and a sneak peek of that show will be on exhibit this October as part of my solo show HISTORY SEEN.

Where can we find your work?

People may view my art online at my website, on Facebook and Instagram and in person at the Elaine Fleck Gallery at 1351 Queen Street West as well as their website.