Catto Houghton

Home: Toronto, Ontario
Title: Portrait of Sylvie Houghton
Media: Oil on canvas / huile sur toile
Dimensions: 61 x 51 cm

The body of work that I have been developing deals with explorations into both contemporary portraiture and installation based work. The pop-realist portrait paintings that dominate my production demonstrate a stylistic departure from more traditional figurative work in the sense that I have minimized “painterly” or gestural qualities from the works and structured my images from an amalgamation of highly graphic, geometric fragments of colour and line to recreate the figure. This approach has led to the development of a sharp, saturated and highly controlled aesthetic that references the systemic visual language associated with graphic design or the digital.

Within my painting practice I seek to merge aspects of classical portraiture with aesthetics found in contemporary design and illustration as well as “street art” and neo-graffiti. I am interested in creating works that refer to traditions in high, low and commercial art simultaneously and I use figuration as it provides a familiar subject matter unto which I can explore pertinent ideas within youth and popular culture, the construction of identity and acts of posturing. The resulting aesthetic should ultimately be seductive and invasive, brash and self-conscious. I am interested in capturing the complex beauty that resides where strength and vulnerability, façade and authenticity overlap.


1999-2003 Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, major in Drawing and Painting, minor in Art History, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec.
1996-1998 Completed Intensive Arts program at Central Technical School, Toronto, Ontario.
1996-1998 Regular part-time life-drawing and portraiture classes, Toronto School of Art.


Oct 2006 International juried show, Art Center of New Jersey, Summit, NJ
Oct 2005 Finalist and Honourable Mention, Kingston Portrait Prize competition.
Aug 2005 “Five” multidisciplinary group show, Kensington Market Lofts, Toronto.
May 2005 “319” annual group arts exhibit at 319 Spadina Studio space.
April 2005 “Show and Prove” a nine person live collaborative painting show, Revival Night Club, Toronto.
Sep 2004 Participation in “Mondo Urban” a Basquiat tribute show, Revival, Toronto
Jan 2004 Selected works from “Hip-Hop Painting” series, Turf Gallery, Montreal.
Apr 2003 Painting installation “Explorations into Notions of Height” exhibited at the juried, Annual Undergraduate Show, Leonard and Bina Ellen Gallery, Montreal.
Feb 2003 One piece featured in the juried exhibit, VAV Gallery, Montreal.
Sep 2002 Curator and participant in “Target Practice” group show, VAV Gallery.
Jan 2002 Two-person exhibition with Haig Aivazian featuring the “Doll-Face” series, VAV
Dec 2001 Participation in collaborative show “Re-Creation” Arte-Vista Gallery, Montreal.


Fall 2006-present Regular part time employment at the Gibsone Jessop Gallery, Toronto
Fall 2005 Finalist and Honourable Mention, Kingston Prize competition.
Winter 2005 Volunteer at the Art Rentals and Sales gallery at the AGO.
Fall 2004 Work/involvement at Luft Gallery, Toronto
Winter 2004 Winner of the Mills Purchase Prize for series exhibited in the 2003 , Undergraduate show, Leonard and Bina Ellen Gallery.
2002/03 Jury member for selected exhibits and member of the Board of Directors for, exhibits and events, VAV gallery.