Photos: James Bombales
At first glance the 36- and 38-storey towers at 150 and 155 Redpath look like any other condominium in Toronto. But take a closer look at the base of these shiny new residences and you’ll see something rather unique and otherworldly. Many condominiums in the city incorporate public art into their plans, but the intergalactic-themed installation that has touched down at the base of 150 and 155 Redpath is the first of its kind.
Called Stargate, the installation by artists Anna Passakas and Radoslaw Kudlinski of Toronto-based art collective Blue Republic, comprises a series of characters led by a 15-foot, six-legged, bright yellow alien and a 12-foot, deep blue, animal-like creature inspired by Eastern and Greek mythology. Frozen in time, it’s hard to tell if the characters are poised for battle, dance or to take over midtown Toronto. The sculptures’ dynamic presence is emphasized by their colours, texture, shape and size, which appear to morph as the day progresses.
“The characters tell a narrative of the world today,” explained Passakas. “Stargate attempts to inspire connection between different worlds. We are not meant to resist the unknown, rather, we are meant to explore and understand it, whatever it may be.”
The gang of extraterrestrials seems to emerge from vibrant, colourful and psychedelic portals on opposite sides of Redpath Avenue, just south of Roehampton. The installation encourages engagement and connection by creating an immersive pedestrian experience as passersby can spot other creatures making their way through the vortex in the murals.
“Stargate is not only a part of 150 and 155 Redpath; it’s part of the city. The artwork interacts with the public space and draws you in,” said Kudlinski. “The characters are approaching the traffic on the street, so all who pass by will find themselves in the middle of this dramatic scene. It’s up to the viewer to narrate what is taking place.”
The pair’s submission was chosen as the winner of a nation-wide competition by developers Freed and Capital Development’s in 2016 for its evocative and contemporary design. And while Stargate is Blue Republic’s first permanent public art installation in Toronto, they’re also known for several notable public commissions including pieces in Luminato Festival Toronto and the Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture in Hong Kong.
“Stargate stood out because it was so bold,” said Todd Cowan, Founder and Managing Partner at Capital Developments. “It’s bright and energetic – exactly the personality we want to bring to 150 and 155 Redpath. The dynamic installation will knit together the fabric of the neighbourhood, connecting the residential towers through, what we believe, will become landmark urban artwork.”