Cathy Daley | “Gestures” 2024

Cathy Daley

Gestures, 2024

Newzones Gallery of Contemporary Art is pleased to announce Gestures, a solo exhibition of work created by acclaimed Canadian figurative artist, Cathy Daley, marking the two-year anniversary of her passing.

Showcasing iconic images of billowing black dresses, tutus, and high-heels, Gestures speaks equally to the formal elements of Daley’s artistic practice, as it does to her lively representation of the female body. Daley herself alluded to the gestural weight and mark-making of her work, describing her drawing process as “a record of what took place.” Cathy, on her work:

It feels more alive that way, with the evidence of process. I work at a drawing and then rework it. The large drawings I do on the floor so I can move around. It’s a very physical process, being immersed in the work.

With a career spanning 40 years, Cathy Daley gained prominence for her striking figurative drawings created with black oil pastel on translucent vellum. Pulling from the world of high fashion, these iconic drawings are a contemporary exploration of both body politics and the culturally accepted images of femininity. Daley used her work to investigate what it means to be female in Western culture, often pointing to the formulas behind stereotypes, built on unrealistic ideals of perfection and cultural caricatures.

In an article published on on March 6, 2022, shortly after Daley’s passing, Nadja Sayej praised Daley as “a master of the female gaze, capturing high fashion in its most elegant form…no artist has immortalized the little black dress quite like Canadian artist Cathy Daley.” Sayej writes:

All of her drawings had one similar quality: she knew when to stop. Each drawing is carefully balanced, never overdone. Her artworks were simple, clean, smudged but unique, and a favourite among interior designers who placed her pieces in high-end homes across Toronto and beyond.

Cathy Daley’s recognition extended into academia, teaching at OCAD University until 2020, when she became Professor Emerita in the Faculty of Art. As an artist and educator, Daley was an inspiration to generations of emerging artists. Stephen Foster, Dean of the Faculty of Art at OCAD University, in a message sent to the community on March 7, 2022 wrote:

During her time at OCAD U, Cathy Daley was a tireless contributor to the Drawing and Painting program. In 1989, she created one of the earliest versions of our course, Issues of Representation. She was a sought-after instructor for her expertise in figuration, expression and experimentation.

Born in 1955, Toronto, Ontario, Cathy Daley received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Ontario College of Art in 1975. Her drawings have been widely exhibited across North America and Europe. Much has been written about Daley’s work, including reviews in acclaimed magazines and papers such as: Artichoke, Art in America, C-Magazine, Canadian Art, Border Crossings, Elle Magazine, Forbes, Globe + Mail, Toronto Star, and Western Art + Architecture, amongst others.

Over the course of her career, Daley’s work has been exhibited throughout the USA, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, and New York, Germany, London and Walsall, United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Belgium, amongst others.

Cathy Daley was the recipient of numerous awards and grants. Her artworks can be found in collections all over the world, including the permanent collections of: Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada Council Art Bank (Ontario),  Glenbow Museum (Alberta), Kelowna Art Gallery, National Gallery of Canada, (Ontario), Nordstrom (USA), Swedish Hospital Foundation (Washington), Tom Thomson Art Gallery, (Ontario), Toronto Hilton Hotels (Ontario),University of Toronto Art Centre (Ontario), to name a few.

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San Francisco Art Fair, 2024, Newzones, Calgary, Canada