Director Guillermo Del Toro and the AGO team up for wonderfully creepy exhibit At Home With Monsters


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I went to a Guillermo del Toro art opening and a Donald Trump discussion broke out. This week, the Art Gallery of Ontario and del Toro unveil At Home With Monsters, an exhibit featuring horror, sci-fi, Victorian and pop culture memorabilia from the film director's own home, dubbed Bleak House. 

At the preview, del Toro — best known as the director of films such as Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy and Pacific Rim — and the AGO's Jim Shedden participated in a discussion about their fascination with monsters, amongst other things, and how that developed almost as a spiritual practice, especially in the case of del Toro who referred to his collection as a "church."

But monsters are also classic outsiders, from way back to Frankenstein's monster created by Mary Shelley right up to Pennywise from It. And if there is a more interesting lens with which to try to understand what is going on in the world right now, I don't know it. 

According to del Toro, the world is the most comfortable and most sophisticated it has ever been, and "the more comfortable you are, the more fear you have." And we all know where and how that fear manifests itself these days with deep divisions being established across the planet and especially south of the border under Donald Trump. "Monsters are a chance for you to make peace with your darker self," says del Toro. "Most people negate or ignore that darkness in themselves."

Essentially, once we understand that we all have imperfections and darkness inside, and learn to deal with that reality, we begin to look at other people as being the same as us. We are all imperfect, so let's all just get along. It's one big monster mash out there, so embrace it.

Politics aside, del Toro's exhibit is also a lot of fun, full of surprises hidden in dark corners, and is clearly the collection is evidence of a lifelong passion and a glimpse into one of the most unique minds in Hollywood. And, with Halloween around the corner, this exhibit will be on everyone's must-see list. 

At Home With Monsters runs until Jan. 7, and the AGO has preparing a thoroughly eerie lineup of programming to complement the spooky show, including a number of film screenings both in the gallery and as part of the Nightmare on Dundas Street Movie Nights at Jackman Hall. In addition, the AGO's First Thursday event for Oct. 5 will be all about Guillermo and include a performance by legendary Toronto electronic music artist Peaches.

Here is a look at a few of our favourites from At Home With Monsters:

From Pan's Labyrinth:

A work by American artist Brian Poor:

From the film Freaks:

A wall of comic books, with plenty of room for reading:

'Arm of Hosts' by Canadian artist Dave Cooper:

The Master Maquette from the film The Strain:

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