A Look at Canadian Artists of Italian Origin from Toronto

Tony Romano

Tony Romano is a mixed media artist who is equally comfortable creating sculptures as he is working with photography, installations, film and video. The versatile artist, who received his BFA from Emily Carr College of Art and Design, has explored themes related to the structures of storytelling, communication and languages. He has often drawn on elements from science, philosophy and pop culture to pose questions and raise issues about the nature of reality. Along with his many solo exhibitions, he has also partnered with fellow artist Jay Isaac, with whom he published an art and culture magazine, for duo exhibitions. Tony Romano’s work has been exhibited throughout Canada and internationally. www.tonyromano.ca 

I recline like a worker dreaming 

Adam Colangelo

Although Adam Colangelo experimented with a variety of mediums at the beginning of his artistic career, it was the scraps of copper he found in his grandfather’s garage workshop that turned his attention to the metal. Ever since then, copper has become the source of his artistic vision and through it he aims to express the beauty in life. By treating the material with heat and chemicals, Colangelo reveals its complexity through an array of highly reflective properties. His large-scale works, which use geometric shapes, are a play between randomness and order. The Toronto-based metalsmith has exhibited throughout Canada, the United States, and Japan. www.adamcolangelo.com 

A Lifetime 


Alfredo De Curtis

Alfredo De Curtis, who was born in Naples, Italy, had a knack for drawing as a young boy. He went on to pursue his artistic education at the Academy of Fine Arts in Naples when he was only 16 years old and from there he continued his studies in Florence and then in Milan. In 1968, he immigrated to Canada, and has made his home in Toronto ever since. The artist uses oil-based paints and sand to give his compositions a unique texture. The figures, places or objects at the centre of his compositions are expressed in muted tones that convey a dreamy, mysterious quality reminiscent of ancient wall frescoes. www.adecurtis.com 

A Moment of Peace 


Julie Campagna

Bronze sculpture is a decades-old passion for artist Julie Campagna. For the past 20 years, the sculptor has worked with bronze to create human, animal and hard-to-pindown forms that evoke everything from wonder, fear and even humour. Her artworks, which blend realistic elements with touches of fantasy and whimsy, are in private and corporate collections worldwide. Campagna has honed her craft in Toronto, where she was born and raised. She is a graduate of York University’s Visual Arts Program as well as the Ontario College of Art and Design. Campagna works, exhibits and teaches in her Queen Street West studio gallery. www.campagnabronze.com 

Bag Lady 


Vincenzo Pietropaolo

Vincenzo Pietropaolo, who was born in Calabria, Italy, has carved out a career as an award-winning photographer who chronicles social issues throughout Canada and abroad. With a celebrated body of work that spans more than 30 years, he is well-known for using his lens to document Italian immigrant life in Canada, in addition to other projects about health care, political protest and the labour movement. His work has been the subject of many exhibits, photo essays, and books, including Not Paved with Gold: Italian-Canadian Immigrants in the 1970s. The book focuses on the first generation of Italian-Canadians in Toronto who worked in labour-intensive jobs in the construction and garment industries. Canadian Geographic magazine has applauded his body of work and called him “one of Canada’s pre-eminent documentary photographers.” A major exhibition of Vincenzo Pietroapolo’s photographs will be included as part of the launch of Winnipeg’s Canadian Museum for Human Rights, which is set to open its doors in September. www.vincepietropaolo.com 

David, Quadra Island, BC 


Bruno Billio

Bruno Billio is an installation artist, sculptor and designer who’s been the artist-in-residence at Toronto’s Gladstone Hotel for the past seven years. The versatile artist uses different mediums to transform everyday found objects including books, boxes and toys. He reinterprets them in sculptures that showcase how the ordinary can become extraordinary. His trademark sculpture consists of stacked random volumes of hardcover books that combine different colours, textures and subject matter. Billio, who was born and raised in Toronto to Italian parents, has said he finds inspiration through his dreams and everyday life. He has exhibited throughout Canada, the United States and internationally. www.brunobillio.com 

Yellow Black  


Maryanne Casasanta

Toronto-based photographer and installation artist Maryanne Casasanta has said that photography is an essential part of her life and she likens it to keeping a visual journal of her life. Her photographs, which explore the relationship between interior and exterior spaces and objects, are inspired by endless influences including other art forms such as film and novels. She often juxtaposes art with commonplace subjects and objects, which give the latter newfound importance. Her work has been featured in both solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States and Canada including the Art Institute of Chicago and Toronto’s CONTACT Photography Festival. www.maryannecasasanta.com

Studio Reflection II 


Bruno Capolongo

Bruno Capolongo considers his art to be a creative journey. The artist, who is of Neapolitan descent, has travelled to Italy several times to study modern and old masters on his own. Beyond helping to expand his knowledge about art history, these trips to Italy also inspired him to create works that balance between contemporary and classical sensibilities. Always eager to explore his work from different perspectives, Capolongo uses different mediums and techniques in his creative process. His compositions, which vary from human figures to still lifes and landscapes, evoke feelings about human sensuality and spirituality. In his more than 20 years on the art scene, Capolongo has been featured in over 130 exhibitions. www.brunocapolongo.com



Germinio Pio Politi

Germinio Pio Politi is an Italian-born painter and sculptor who immigrated to Toronto, Canada, in 1980. His career, which spans more than 30 years, has included various exhibitions throughout Canada and Europe. Politi works with tempera and ink, among other materials, to manipulate colours and forms, and he is particularly fascinated by the human image. He has called his art an investigation into what it is to be human, and his compositions have revisited the theme of alienation in today’s technological society. As part of his artist statement, he writes, “I delight in finding the universe slippery enough to escape our mechanistic models.” www.gpoliti.com 

Intelligent Companion 


Sandra Tarantino

Painter and sculptor Sandra Tarantino has shared her talent for art and encouraged community creativity through various initiatives, such as her role as cofounding director of AWOL Gallery and Studios, located on Queen Street West. Tarantino, who teaches children and youth in a variety of artistic mediums, has also taught many workshops throughout Toronto. She is particularly interested in how form contributes to the aesthetic impact of her work. She uses wood as the physical base of her shaped forms and then covers it with painted canvas. Her work often focuses on how individuals relate to one another in contemporary society. www.sandratarantino.com 


Pietro Adamo

Pietro Adamo’s abstract paintings record the often unpredictable and wondrous moments of life. He deliberately applies and then removes pigment in order to create textured surfaces and rough contours to transmit emotion and passion. The themes he explores through his works are very much related to what is happening in his life at the point of creation. He has been influenced by an array of art forms and artists, but is particularly inspired by three Canadian artists: Michael Snow, Tom Thomson and Guido Molinari. Adamo, who worked as an art teacher at Chaminade College School in Toronto for more than 20 years, now devotes his career exclusively to his art, which can found in private and public collections throughout Asia, North America and Europe. www.artistpietroadamo.com 


Sam Paonessa

Landscapes and still lifes are the main focus of Sam Paonessa’s artworks. Whether the artist captures the essence of Canada’s picturesque Georgian Bay and Algonquin Provincial Park or the classical beauty of Italy, Paonessa is endlessly fascinated by the outside world. Paonessa balances time for his personal art with his career as a commercial artist; he has worked for Hallmark Canada for the past 27 years as a painter and illustrator. His work is collected through North America and Europe, and he has two permanent collections showcased at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa as well as the Centro d’Arte e Cultura in Roccamorice, Pescara, Italy. Paonessa shares his love for art by teaching painting workshops across Ontario. www.sampaonessa.com

Silent Echo

written by Rita Simonetta