Photos by Sam Sadaghiani
It’s not often an artist with absolutely no art training can host his debut exhibition just two years after picking up a paintbrush.
Toronto artist Scott Boniface’s venture into the art scene came when he found himself looking for a creative outlet — in essence, he says, the process of making art pointed him in a constructive direction at a time when he was feeling aimless.”I used art as a means of self-expression,” says Boniface. “It was a matter of finding myself as a creative person.”
Boniface’s creative impulse was initially sparked by photography. He began using Instagram as a platform for self-expression and quickly garnered a sizable following. The encouraging attention spurred him into new artistic avenues.
His affair with painting seemed to come out of nowhere — and came at a ferocious speed. Over a span of two years, Boniface has produced over 100 oil and acrylic-based paintings on canvasses as large as 9 by 4 feet.
“I had a lot of self-doubt, and was going through a rough patch emotionally,” he recalls. “Painting has helped provide me with some sort of meaning.”
Boniface has found himself gravitating towards the energy of painting on a massive scale. And those huge canvasses tell a poignant story, with his signature hard and bold lines paired with striking primary colours juxtaposed with subtle shades and soft strokes.
He calls his style of painting “aimless,” which sounds surprising for such a prolific artist. But in his view, “aimless” is less a negative trait and more about transcending genres — doing whatever truly inspires is a path to be crossed uninhibitedly.
Boniface’s self-analytical streak comes across as he addresses the painful process of trying to decide when a painting attains “perfection.” There are times, he says, when he paints for hours, only to scrap the emerging work on the canvas and paint over it again.
“I feel this remorse,” says Boniface. “Attaining perfection is a very exhausting process. I don’t know when it gets ‘perfect,’ but I know [when it gets to] where I can tolerate it. And then the manner in which other people perceive the art tells me just how subjective abstract art is.”
What was initially meant to be a hobby ended up as a true form of experimentation for Boniface. He says he didn’t know the rules of art — in fact, he was breaking all the conventional rules, and ended up with interesting results. In the process, Boniface’s downtown apartment, which also serves a studio, became overrun with his paintings.
Boniface says his approach was naÃ¯ve at the beginning. From using oil and acrylic to dabbling in graffiti-style art to fine art later on, he says he didn’t have one specific artist he tried to imitate. One of the first paintings he did was a re-imagining of hip-hop icon MF Doom’s face.
Things changed when Boniface sold his first piece — he says he felt confident, almost validated when the buyer showed interest in his work. Though he’s already sold a number of paintings during his brief time as a painter, Boniface says he still feels his style is a work in progress, but he’s keen to experiment further.
Boniface’s debut solo exhibit, opening September 5, will be the first opportunity for him to showcase his massive canvasses to the public. He’s excited to see people’s reactions to the larger-than-life pieces. Though he may be fairly new to painting, he felt the time was right to showcase his emerging collection of work.
“I just felt ready,” he says. “The exhibit doesn’t have one particular theme; it encompasses a large variety of mediums.”
True to his singular vision, Boniface is proud of the fact that he organized every aspect of the show, from promotion to financing.
According to George Bernard Shaw, “Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.” One could say Scott Boniface is following that advice closely — albeit without a clear aim in mind. Then again, he knows this is just the beginning — he envisions his work being shown at galleries around the world down not too many years from now.
“It’s definitely not the end in terms of creative expression,” says Boniface. “I will absolutely continue creating — whether that means painting or taking photos.”
Scott Boniface’s first solo exhibit, Scott Boniface is aimless. Aimless is an art show takes place at Moniker Gallery from September 5 to 11.
Sana Ahmed is a Toronto-based journalist. She likes writing about art, music and politics. Follow her on Twitter @sanapicks.