Tony Romano: The Big Hat

April 6th, 2024 – September 8th, 2024

Installation of The Big Hat at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, 2024. Photo by Toni Hafkenscheid.

On June 7, 2024, The Big Hat was featured on CBC Arts. Read the article here.

Rooted in a family tradition of carpentry and ironwork, Tony Romano’s practice reimagines found objects and reworks raw and recycled materials into playful works that explore cultural narratives. Spending time in scrap metal yards as a child, Romano has long been fascinated by the endless reincarnation of metal, and how a once used and loved object could be melted down and transformed into something new. This endless recyclability propels him to consider the narrative possibilities of his materials and the memories and stories held within them. In The Big Hat, Romano has created a new series of sculptures and video that tell a cautionary tale of an imagined whirligig community reckoning with the arrival of a greedy professor who convinces the whirligigs to trade their simple life for a life of labour. Whirligigs are kinetic garden ornaments that move or spin with the wind. Traditionally, they are made of wood or metal and depict rural activities such as farming. They can be both decorative and functional, determining the direction of the wind and warning off unwanted pests. In The Big Hat, Romano imagines whirligigs as autonomous beings with dreams and memories of their own, with scrap, raw, and recycled metal being the stage on which their entire world is built upon.

Join us in celebrating the opening of The Big Hat on Friday, April 5 from 7-10pm as part of RMG Fridays: The Big Hat. Remarks to take place in the exhibition at 7:15pm.

Tony Romano (b. 1978, Toronto) holds a BFA from the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design and has exhibited his work widely both nationally and internationally, including exhibitions in Canada, the United States, Austria, the United Kingdom, and Sweden. Recent solo exhibitions include Night Thoughts, BEERS London, The Branch In The Salzburg Mine, Clint Roenisch Gallery, Toronto, The Last Act, Articule, Montreal, Onward Future, Oakville Galleries, Notary Moon, MacLaren Art Gallery, Barrie, and Oversea/Undersea, Kulturhust, Stockholm.