Shirley WiitasaloShirley Wiitasalo, artist (b at Toronto 1949). Wiitasalo was educated at the ONTARIO COLLEGE OF ART (1967-68). She currently lives in Willowdale, Ont. Wiitasalo began her career as an abstract painter in the early 1970s but soon introduced figurative imagery. In 1974 she had her first solo exhibition at the Carmen Lamanna Gallery, Toronto, and in 1975 she was included in Some Canadian Women Artists (National Gallery of Canada). Wiitasalo continued to show regularly in Toronto at the Carmen Lamanna Gallery and since 1993 at the Susan Hobbs Gallery. Her work has been included in several important group exhibitions, such as Kanadische Kunstler (which included 9 Canadian artists, Kunsthalle, Basel, 1977), the Canadian Biennial of Contemporary Art (National Gallery of Canada, 1989) and Toronto: A Play of History (Power Plant, 1987). In 1987 Wiitasalo's work was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, and in 1993 her work was seen with that of Belgian painter René Daniels in an exhibition organized by the York University Art Gallery, Toronto, and the Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld. In 2000 her recent paintings were the subject of a major exhibition at The Power Plant, Toronto.
By the 1980s Wiitasalo's work and that of peers such as Will Gorlitz, Carol Wainio and Joanne Tod signalled the interest on the part of a new generation of figurative painters in relationships between identity, social formation and media representations. A subtext of Wiitasalo's work is the representational status of painting itself. For Wiitasalo, representation is neither reflection nor mimesis; rather she presents a world of dissimilation and distortion. The media and the urban environment feature in her subject matter.
In 2011 Shirley Wiitasalo was a recipient of the Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts.