A Gallery Show for the Typographically Obsessed
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A Gallery Show for the Typographically Obsessed

Letterforms become visual art at Swash & Serif, on now at the Black Cat Gallery.

Swash & Serif
The Black Cat Gallery (2186 Dundas St. West)
November 13–November 19, 1:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m.

Swash & Serif is the debut gallery show by Toronto typography fanatics Ligatures, presented in conjunction with the Toronto Design Directory. If the opening-night crowd is any indication, it seems both groups have tapped a deep well of pent-up artistic desires among the graphic design community.

“We only had a handful of submissions two weeks ago,” said Margot Trudell, one of the show’s curators and a member of both Ligatures and the Design Directory. “But then it exploded.” They received more than 60 submissions before whittling those down to 40 pieces by 36 artists.

But the success of Swash & Serif’s opening night was nevertheless surprising. Dundas West’s Black Cat gallery overflowed with artists and hipsters looking for free, funky art. Among the pieces were a stitched-together leather book cover labelled “Frankenstein”; exclamatory silver earrings paired with a delicate ampersand necklace; and hundreds of silver and gold thumbtacks meticulously arranged to spell out Daft Punk’s latest mantra: “Lose Yourself to Dance.” Hanging over the whole scene were giant white blobs—the insides of cut-out letters, hovering like clouds.

In fact, the pieces have less to do with typography, which is meant to be used practically to convey meaning (think of the impression comic sans gives), than lettering, which deals with letterforms as visual art. You wouldn’t write an essay in most of these fonts, but that frees them up to become something else—something more abstract and emotional.

“What these artists are doing is fantastic,” Trudell said, gazing at a wood carving with the most elegantly carved “Hot Diggity Damn” you’ve ever seen. “It’s more just coincidence that they’re not famous.”