Artist toasts Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

An artist makes a 'fun' portrait of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for The Breakfast Club exhibit

Chris Joyce holds his blow torch next to his portrait of Justin Trudeau
Chris Joyce holds his blow torch next to his portrait of Justin Trudeau   Michelle Cuthbert

Chris Joyce is an artist. His favourite mediums are metal and wood. However, this week, he decided to work with something a little different.

On Friday morning, Argyle Fine Arts hosted a pop-up exhibit called The Breakfast Club, centred around the most important meal of the day. For this exhibit, Joyce made a portrait of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau out of toast.

“The pieces on toast are a little more tongue in cheek, they’re pop culture references, they’re temporary,” he says. “And I love toast, I love the smell of it, I love eating it, so it’s fun.”

Joyce is known in the art community for his toast portraits. He’s done one of Miley Cyrus for East Coast Living’s 2014 event Dine by Design, and another for a bride and groom for their wedding.

So when Argyle Fine Arts owner Adriana Afford decided to put on her breakfast show, she immediately thought of Joyce.

“I stopped him at the grocery store,” she says. “I knocked on his window and said ‘hey, are you buying bread?’”

For this piece, Joyce used 120 slices of white bread, which he laid out to dry for a day before gluing them onto his canvas and then carefully toasting every detail of the prime minister’s face into the bread with two different blowtorches.

The portrait is currently on display in the window of Attica furniture
The portrait is currently on display in the window of Attica furniture   Michelle Cuthbert

“It’s a fun working canvas,” he says. “But a lot of my friends when they see me work on it, they’re terrified because it’s a one-step process.”

This is the main drawback of working with toast, says Joyce. If he makes a mistake, he can scrape it out of the bread, but the piece looks better if he doesn’t have to do so.

Since he’s a practiced artist, the pressure doesn’t phase him.

“It’s not magical, it’s basic drawing techniques. You start light and build it up. But it does make you hungry,” he jokes.

As for the choice of subject, Joyce chose the prime minister because he wanted a current figure that people would know.

“We decided that doing our beloved Justin Trudeau would pay homage to someone who, whether you voted for him or not, many of us can respect. And he’s in the news a lot lately so it’s good timing.”

Caitlin McGuire, the gallery assistant at Argyle Fine Arts, says Trudeau was a good choice.

“I think it’s hilarious and it’s fun,” she says. “There’s this big culture that’s built up around (Trudeau) now.”

And it’s this culture that makes the prime minister so appropriate for the medium.

“You know people around the world are always finding things that they believe in or believe to see in food, and in many cases it’s in toast,” says Joyce.

Because the piece is made out of real bread, it won’t be on display for long. If you want to see it walk past the Attica furniture store on Barrington Street, where it’s on display in the window for the next couple of days.

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