/ TORONTO LIFE PRESENTS:
LA CARNITA, THE HOMECOMING /
It started with a buzz and followed with a line up around the block. Using the marketing savvy of ONEMETHOD, La Carnita was launched onto the Twitter feeds of thousands of Torontonians. At each pop-up guests could purchase limited edition prints done by heavy-weight artists such as Mike Giant, Hydro74, and Shingo Shimzu -- and of course -- also leave with a signature La Carnita taco. Today La Carnita employs over three-hundred people and has six North American locations as well as one in Dubai.
On Feb 7th, 2019 La Carnita went back to its true pop-up roots. Hosted by ONEMETHOD’s creative studio, guests enjoyed an open bar (hellooo, Tromba Paloma slushies and Margarita on tap) as well as four food stations offering tacos, ceviche, tres leche and more. The event showcased the works of artists both local and international that have created pieces for La Carnita over the past seven years.
Check out footage of the very first pop-ups here
In collaboration with Toronto Life’s Membership program the event took off, seeing over 150 attendees. Toronto Life’s Membership Program was launched back in October promising access to the “very best cultural hotspots, and exclusive access to one-of-a-kind food and drink experiences at the best restaurants in Toronto.” To be part of this event truly highlights how far La Carnita has come from its early pop-up days. Looking back to 2011, and the third event ever held by La Carnita, Steve Miller, OneMethod Creative Director stated "this is a way of testing the appetite for artwork [within Toronto’s food scene and the growing phenomenon of Pop-Up events]”. Flash-forward almost 9 years later and we just have to thank Toronto for making this taco-pipe-dream a reality with its unwavering support.
/ INViSiBLE INK /
AN INTERVIEW WITH EKS REI
The La Carnita Print Program goes all the way back to our inception in the pop-up days when guests would purchase an art print and get a ‘free’ taco in exchange. Today we continue the tradition by giving out prints bi-monthly from all of our locations to guests at the end of their meal.
Eks Rei is a Toronto based artist who we were lucky enough to feature with November’s Dia de Los Muertos print. Eks Rei practices traditional Sumi calligraphy, expressing his relationship with mortality and the nuances between light and dark. We connected with him on his process, his unconventional medium of choice and anonymity in the art world.
You seem to keep your public profile very minimalistic, focusing predominantly on the art rather than yourself, I imagine that this was a conscious decision so why is anonymity important to you as an artist?
I’m not sure it was a conscious choice in the beginning, but I appreciate the anonymity surrounding my work now. There are still some people in my community who haven’t yet made the connection that it’s me creating art through this alias, and since I’m not limited to expressing through one single identity, the approach allows me to enjoy a degree of detachment from the work that is being created.
How did you come to learn Sumi calligraphy and why do you prefer it over other mediums? / Are there others that you enjoy or have explored in the past?
I wouldn't say that I prefer working with Sumi and calligraphy over other mediums, however, it's been crucial in allowing me to develop my current ideas. Previously I worked on charcoal based pieces with extreme detail, bordering on a photorealism aesthetic, but the loose and unpredictable nature of calligraphy has allowed me to embrace spontaneity in the moment and move away from trying to achieve perfection. Now I'm transitioning to designing and creating objects, but they are all being informed by the brush stroke aesthetic I've developed over the past 3 years.
Are there 3 main things (Be it ritual, materials etc.) that you stick to when you’re about to start a new project that you could identify? If not, can you speak a bit more about your process?
Three constants in my current work:
I. I have a tendency to begin paintings only after the sun sets.
II. I work with a custom ink that I'm developing with ground charcoal, water and ash.
III. I maintain and rotate through a collection of 21 brushes that I've collected over 5 years. This prolongs the flexibility of each one, and encourages a slow maturing of the hair and sable over use.
If you had to describe what you’ve learned thus far in your career in one or two sentences what would it be?
It's important to acknowledge that every individual is dealing with their own adversities. Simple acts of compassion and kindness can go a long way in uplifting one's despair.
Follow Eks Rei on Instagram