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For Alan Ganev, home is where his art is: “It’s the soul of the space.”
When he and his Italian greyhound moved into their Yorkville-area condo loft last year, there was little furniture but plenty of pieces for the walls.
“At one point it was the art, and a bed, and me and Piccolo, and that was it,” recalls Ganev, a Toronto-based visual artist and gallery owner.
The artworks — all with big personalities — range from a painting of a woman’s torso topped with artificial leaves to a massive wood-and-mirror installation that spells the word “YOURS.”
“Putting art in your home is very intimate and very personal, and can be very rewarding,” explains Ganev, who takes an “art dictates the rest” approach to interior design.
After deciding on the best piece for each wall, he adds compatible furniture in a neutral palette. For example, a mid-century modern credenza with rounded corners was chosen to “match” the YOURS piece.
And in the living room, the black, white and grey tones of a large contemporary canvas are reflected in the armchairs, sofa and rug. (Coincidentally, the white-and-taupe-coated Piccolo, who divides his time between Ganev and Ganev’s ex, blends right in.)
His personal gallery comprises works that “add energy that speaks to you” and have a connection to his work and memories, explains the co-owner of Taglialatella Galleries on Yorkville Ave. and founder of the Yorkville Murals open-air festival held just last weekend, Aug. 27-28.
Born in Costa Rica to architect parents, Ganev was always interested in creative expression, whether through painting, music or poetry. As a young adult, he came to Canada to study graphic design and fine art.
“I just don’t know another way to live,” he says of his all-in connection to art. “Success for me is being able to surround yourself with things that touch you, that you’re passionate about.”
As a champion of local talent, he’s incorporated made-in-Toronto showstoppers in his 800-square-foot, white-painted living space.
The “super cool” YOURS piece is by Trevor Wheatley, an artist he’d known for years who created it for the 2021 murals festival where each letter was mounted horizontally on a rotating base.
“It was just so stunning” but also massive at more than 15 feet long and very heavy. Regardless, Ganev decided his main hallway was a suitable new home. “It weirdly makes the hallway look bigger.”
The contemporary still life with neon tube lights in the living room was created by Toronto artist Thrush Holmes, another of Ganev’s favourites.
The foliage-framed torso came from “extremely creative” American painter Sage Barnes, whose work hangs in Taglialatella’s Yorkville location that opened in 2018. With four galleries in three countries, Taglialatella showcases modern and contemporary art, with a focus on the pop and street art movements.
Among the finishing touches in Ganev’s loft are big plants, which make the space “more organic and alive.” A tall cactus in a glass-walled corner is a prickly yet welcoming companion after long days at work when Ganev grabs his guitar, writes or listens to music in the glow of coloured LED lights.
“It looks like a club for myself,” he laughs, adding that guests are usually limited to a few friends and, of course, Piccolo: “He’s a little star.”

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