The art of the late Trinidadian-born Denyse Thomasos will be exhibited from November 3rd through November 28th at the Olga Korper Gallery in Toronto. Her paintings have regularly been exhibited at this gallery since her first show in 1998.
Thomasos and her family left Trinidad for Canada during the political upheavals of the 1970s. Her father received a MA in Physics from the University of Waterloo and began a teaching career. Thomasos with her two sisters grew up in the Lawrence Ave. W/Keele area. They were the only Black kids at St. Francis Xavier School. Denyse discovered her love of art while a student in grade four. She eventually earned a degree in Art History from the University of Toronto and a Masters from Yale.
She received many awards and grants throughout her career including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a professorship at Rutgers University. Her paintings were exhibited in the Lennon Weinberg gallery in New York. In 2009 she married Harlem-born Samein Priester in New York City. The next year the couple renewed their vows in a ceremony at St. Basil’s Church in Toronto. They adopted a baby girl just prior to their Toronto wedding. On July 19, 2012, Thomasos attended a clinic in New York to have an MRI to discover if she had a genetic condition. She was injected with gadolinium, a drug used to obtain clearer MRI images. She developed a rare allergic reaction and died on the way to the hospital. She was 47 years old. Her husband Samein, a documentary filmmaker, says he is dedicated to their daughter Syann and says Thomasos’ influence will always surround them. Her art is a visual reminder of her love of life and travel. Many of her semi-abstract paintings reflect cities she has visited in Africa, China, India and South America as well as depicting both her personal heritage and larger social issues.