For her second solo exhibit as an artist, Raquel Da Silva hosted her latest project “Hoop Dreams” showcasing custom painted basketball backboards alongside various other vibrant and expressive paintings.

Located at the Brockton Collective in the city’s industrial Dufferin and Queen area, the space allows bourgeoning Toronto artists an avenue to affordably showcase and express their creative talent. Not to mention it is free to join for anyone interested in becoming a member allowing access to a studio, event space and online community.

Upon entering the exhibit, decorations flowed perfectly with the theme of the night with basketballs hanging from the ceilings splashed with vivacious colours and patterns. As the collective began to stream in with family, friends and artists alike from all over the city the music of Dj Pistola filled the room with old school hip-hop, mirroring the aura and feel of Raquel’s art. Most importantly (and always my favorite) the event catered delicious food courtesy of VegetarianWay and an open bar (for those old enough to drink of course) serving all evening.

I had a chance to sit down with the gorgeous artist and ask her about her artistic and musical influences of her art. She cited infamous painters such as Mexican artist Frida Kahlo de Rivera and Pablo Picasso, while also citing influences from abstract painter Jean-Michel Basquit, who originally started his career in the 1970s as a graffiti artist in New York.  Although she did not note particular artists that she appealed to, she spoke of her love for Jazz and Samba, while also looking to hip-hop music as a form of inspiration. I put her on the spot and asked what fueled her drive for art, she gracefully noted “Being able to break your own boundaries- being free from judgement and free from the norm, it’s almost an escape from reality.”

Curator of the event Jimmy Chiale, a French artist who arrived to Canada in 2006 is taking the Toronto art scene by storm and has had the opportunity to work with Raquel among other artists at various shows around the city. Such artists include Malcolm Yarde, Fiya Bruxa and Phillip Saunders. He considers himself an artist of the community, representing his work throughout the Kensington Market/ Queen St. area, as far west as the Parkdale neighbourhood.

His experiences with hip-hop and art surfaced at a young age from the artistic style and production of rap artists like Busta Rhymes and Missy Elliot, known for their ‘out there’ and outrageous music videos and fashion. “Everyone gets inspired by hip-hop; I listen to Tupac and J Dilla everyday- it’s just natural to listen to them.”

To finish off the evening, a performance by Toronto’s own The 6th Letter of ΒΛΚΞΓ$CLUB, a dope artist with lyrical fluency and technique well beyond his years – I’m honestly surprised I haven’t heard of him until now…shame on me. After the show I quickly went in search of his work (gotta love Google) and found a few of his videos on YouTube. I have to say my favourite song by the young rapper is his remix and remake of Ghetto Concept’sEZ On Tha Motion”. The video itself is well produced and highlights the Toronto skyline in the background to give that urban homey feeling that most Tdot rappers neglect to incorporate. As he spits “In the lab just stirrin’ up the potion/ rub in your skin like lotion /EZ on the motion!”

After a night of excellent food, music and inspiring art, I’m convinced that Raquel Da Silva is an artist that Torontonians should keep a look out for. Her creative style is energetic and full of unique character and love… something that I rarely see in conventional art galleries.

Check out the link below to catch a glimpse of the successful gallery and explore the eccentric production of the beautiful artist.


[Photo Gallery]

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