Works: Black Friday

Painting 11 of 21
Click image below to enlarge
This large quadryptic was finished after nearly a year of work in 1979. The theme centers on a hypothetical, violent protest on Bay Street at King, the heart of the financial district in Toronto, Ontario. The provocation for the violence is a catastrophic downturn in the country’s economy which has resulted in massive unemployment and economic hardship. The scene takes place in front of the Toronto Stock Exchange building at that specific street intersection- a symbol of the international economic forces responsible for the recession. It also alludes to the stock market crash on Black Thursday in 1929 which sent the world into a major depression for another decade. In the painting, vehicles are being burned in the street while protesters battle with the Toronto Mounted Division and the Emergency Task Force riot police who are trying to control them at the scene. Both Toronto police departments generously cooperated with me in forming a hypothetical plan for dealing with such a crowd at that location.

Ironically, a violent protest did break out at that very street location during the G20 international financial summit in Toronto on June 26, 2010- complete with burning vehicles and protesters struggling with both mounted police and the Emergency Task Force squad who were in full riot gear. 412 people were arrested during two days of angry demonstrations. The fact that this all happened 31 years after the completion of the painting is an incredible coincidence. In retrospect, the picture seems almost prophetic.

See photographs from the G20 summit demonstrations here: