BY MATTHEW HOPTON
The Art Gallery of Ontario is paying tribute to Guillermo Del Toro with a special collection called At Home With Monsters until Jan 7. The exhibit is being well received by gallery goers. On a dark and cold night in the middle of the week in Toronto the front of the AGO was lined with people. The reason? Free student entry to the gallery between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Wednesdays.
While the gallery is not very expensive anyway, the free entry draws huge crowds to the gallery on a regular basis. Mary Liu, a student at the University of Toronto, explained why she likes to come for the free gallery. “It’s one of the (only) free events in Toronto, and the gallery is always changing so you never see the same thing more than once unless you really want to.”
Once inside the Guillermo Del Toro show, it’s easy to see why people are willing to line up and come later at night to see it. The exhibit is outstanding. When you first enter the gallery one of the most grotesque and iconic figures of Del Toro’s work greets you, “The Pale Man” from the film Pan’s Labyrinth. Placed in the middle of the room the six-foot sculpture immediately draws your attention.
The entire gallery is divided into nine categories. It walks through Del Toro’s life and how individual events helped shaped who he is today. At Home with Monsters starts with visions of childhood and the Victorian era and continues through the explorations of death and the afterlife, magic, occultism, alchemy, Frankenstein and horror, monsters and finishes with a celebration of comics, movies and popular culture.
One of the most interesting components of the gallery includes an explanation by Del Toro about where he stores all his costumes and props. He owns a second home not far from his family home which he calls the “Bleak House” a reference to a Charles Dickens novel. Del Toro explains in a video seen in the gallery that “The collection just kept expanding. It took up four rooms in our house, and it started to get very cramped. I didn’t want to keep it in piles. I wanted to have the books classified, the art hung and so forth. So, around 2006, I bought the first of the two houses that are now Bleak House.” Del Toro says it took him four years to organize.
The second home also has a “rain room” which is recreated at the AGO. It is a soundproof room with dim lighting where the sound of rain and a storm is simulated. Del Toro says this is where he spends his time writing, as it sets the mood for his horror genre films.
For fans of Del Toro’s work this gallery is a must-see. However, since the start of At Home with Monsters tour Del Toro has said in an interview with the Independent that he misses his collection.
“I felt very cheerful about the exhibit in the abstract,” he says. “But on the day, they actually came to the house and took the objects away, it was gutting. I stopped all the talks. I said, ‘I don’t want it to travel any more.’ I don’t want to go four years without my stuff. There are certain figures in the house that I just like looking at. It makes me happy to see them every day. When I go in and the giant Frankenstein head isn’t there, it’s absolutely horrible.”
Judging by the quote from the Independent it seems that once Jan. 7 comes we many not see another Del Toro gallery for a long time. Seeing this gallery while it’s still in Toronto is a must.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.AGO.ca/exhibitons/Guillermo-Del-Toro