top of page
Shelley Adler_22_07_22.jpg

Shelley Adler

Toronto based artist, Shelley Adler’s paintings are commanding in their painterly exuberance and stunning range of color. Using fragments of contemporary life, Adler’s psychological portraits explore gender and identity, creating a balance between interior and exterior worlds. From early cave painting to the Mona Lisa and Andy Warhol portraiture is a formidable artistic tradition. Shelley Adler’s paintings of people’s faces are not portraits in the strict sense of the word in that portraits are formulated primarily as likenesses of the sitter. In Adler’s painting, the face is a springboard to a luminous and freeform tableau. They are less about the sitter than the internal processes of the artist and her intense curiosity about people, about the ways of looking, and about the act of painting. These considerations are delicately balanced to reflect a deep humanism. With generous brushstrokes and vibrant planes of light, Adler forms the face into an elemental and iconic essence. Each painting is endowed with a particular, individual energy through color and composition. Color and its link to emotion is a primary concern and although Adler employs eccentric, non-naturalistic color, the faces have a very real quality. Like David Hockney, Adler often paints people she knows. For Hockney, capturing a subject’s likeness, and especially his or her personality, can only be properly done with the human touch, or as he says, “it has to be directed through my heart to my eye to my hand.”

Shelley Adler has exhibited throughout Canada. She has had solo shows at Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto (2006, 2009), Andrea Meislin (2008) and has participated in group exhibitions in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, including Sarah Myerscough Fine Art, London (2008). Adler received her MFA from Boston University in 1987. She graduated from York University in Toronto in 1983 and attended Edinburgh College of Art in Scotland in 1982.

(Source: Madison Gallery)

Born in Edmonton, Alberta


1987   Master of Fine Arts, Boston University

1983   Bachelor of Fine Arts, York University, Toronto

1982   Edinburgh College of Art, Scotland



2019   Black, Herringer Kiss Gallery, Calgary, AB,

2018   About Time, Galerie Jochen Hempel, Berlin

2017   5 Women, Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto,

2016   Solo Show Studies, Madison Gallery, La Jolla, California

2015   Perspectives, Madison Gallery, La Jolla, California

            The Nude Polaroids, Glenhyrst Art Gallery of Brant, Brantford

            Women Painting Women, J. Cacciola Gallery, New York

2014   Body Language, Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto, Solo Show

2013   Chroma, Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto

            Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto, Solo Show
            60 Painters, Humber Arts and Media Studio, Etobicoke, Group show

2012   'Recent Work', Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto

            Eat Drink Man Woman, Art Gallery of Mississauga, Group Show

2011   Pulp Friction, Toronto, Solo Show

2009   Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto, Solo Show

2008   Andrea Meislin Gallery, New York, New York, Solo Show

            Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto, Solo Show

            Making Room, Harbourfront, Toronto

2006   Dyan Marie Projects, Paint Jam, Group Show

            Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto, Group show

2005   Loop Gallery, Toronto, Two person show

2004   Drabinsky Gallery, Toronto, Group show

            State Gallery, Vancouver, Three person show

2003   Loop Gallery, Toronto, Two person show

            State Gallery, Vancouver, Solo show

2002   Loop Gallery, Toronto, Two person show

2001   Blackwood Gallery, University of Toronto in Mississauga, Group show

            Gallery 418, Montreal, Group show

2000   Loop Gallery, Toronto, Two person show

            Blackwood Gallery, University of Toronto in Mississauga, Group show

1997   Meg Gallery, Toronto, Group show

            Samuel J. Zacks Gallery, York University, Toronto, Solo show

           Here and Now Gallery, Toronto, Solo show

1994   Koffler Gallery, Toronto

1984   Canadian Painters



2017   Sandals, Leah. The Miami Connection, Canadian Art, December 6
            Whyte, Murray. In the Galleries: Stanzie Tooth, Shelley Adler and Geoffrey James, Toronto Star, March 9

2014   Shypula,Brian. Glenhyrst Bares It In New Exhibition, Brant News Sept. 5

2012   Sandals, Leah. Putting a Good Face On It, National Post, Feb. 16

2011   Whyte, Murray. Painting is Alive and Well, Toronto Star, May 24

            Balzer, David. Eye Weekly, March 18
            Butler, Shelley. Shelley Adler's Romantic Loneliness in Toronto, Two Coats of Paint, March 18

2009   Milroy, Sarah. “Curatorial celebrations? Try inventory stockpiles” Globe and Mail, Nov. 22

2008   MacKay, Gillian. “Character Study: Shelley Adler’s empathetic portraits in paint” Canadian Art, Fall 2007.

2007   Dault, Gary Michael. “Exhibit A, Full Frontal” The Globe and Mail Sept. 22.

2006   Dault, Gary Michael. “The bliss of the big faces” The Globe and Mail Mar. 25.

            Goddard, Peter. “The blank faces of a quiet revolution” The Toronto Star Mar. 31.

2005   Goddard, Peter. “Meeting the Stars on the Rise” The Toronto Star. Jul. 31.

2004   Osbourne, Catherine. “The Big Picture” The National Post. Jul. 24.

            Parry, Malcolm. The Vancouver Sun. p.B3. Oct. 22.

            Bennett, Diana. “Reading between the Sheets” Westender, Vancouver. Oct. 24.

            Dault, Gary Michael, “Moira Clark & Shelly Adler at Loop”, Globe and Mail. Feb 16.

2002   Dault, Gary Michael, “Mapping the Landscape or the Face”, Globe and Mail. May 26.

2001   Millar, Sandy. “Artist Never Forgets a Face”. The Mississauga News. May 9.

2000   Paiement, Genevieve. “Meat is Material” Mirror, Montreal. Oct .12.

1999   MacKay, Gillian. “The Way of All Flesh”. The Globe and Mail. Nov. 6.

1998   Hume, Christopher. “Young Artists Learn to Exhibit Themselves” The Toronto Star. Oct. 18.
            MacKay, Gillian. “Canadian, Eh!”. The Globe and Mail. Oct. 17.

            MacKay, Gillian. “Capturing Ecstacy”. The Globe and Mail. May. 16.C, Catalog essay by Catherine Osbourne pp. 6-7. May.

1997    Sandiford, Judith. Artworld pp. 24-26. Spring issue.



1997   Drawing Award, Blackwood Gallery

1986   Nan Foundation Graduate Scholarship, Boston University



Bank of Montreal

Borden Ladner Gervais LLP

Davis Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP

The Donovan Art Collection, St. Michael's College

Scotiabank Fine Art Collection

Senvest Collection of New Canadian Art

bottom of page