The exhibit with mixed-media art, writings and memorabilia by the Rocky and Expendables star will run throughout TIFF, leading up to the world premiere of Netflix’s Stallone documentary Sly that is set to close the Toronto festival on Sept. 16 with a gala screening.
The Bell Lightbox exhibit features 12 original paintings and art pieces created by Stallone from 1975 to 2020. Most are abstract, with vivid paintbrush swirls enveloping images of boxers and commentary on Hollywood fame and royalty. One work, Family Ties, depicts a pregnant mother and a distant father and illustrates the artist’s use of a limited color palette of black, white and red.
Before becoming a superstar in Hollywood, Stallone as a young man started out as a painter, before choosing script writing and then acting as a career. Another painting in the TIFF exhibit is Finding Rocky, an early-1970s work where a palette knife was used to carve the figure of a boxer onto the canvas, which was then framed with fight headlines from newspapers and a city skyline as Stallone turned to art to help flesh out his Rocky movie character.
The exhibit also underlines Stallone’s early artistic inspiration from abstract expressionism and artists like Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Still other paintings are more representational, including one Stallone did on the day he learned his first manager, Jane Oliver, had passed away in 1975 after being instrumental in launching his career.
Additionally, fans will see the original script from the 1976 Rocky movie signed by the big screen star.
Sly, set to a streaming debut on Netflix on Nov. 3, is directed by Thom Zimny (Springsteen on Broadway), who leads Stallone through a Hollywood journey that catapulted him to fame after his star turn in the inspirational underdog story Rocky. His other film credits include Demolition Man, Cliffhanger, Cop Land, Escape Plan and more recently Creed, which earned Stallone an Academy Award nomination in 2016.
The art exhibit will run from Sept. 7 to 17 at the Canadian Film Gallery at Bell Lightbox. Fans needn’t worry, as Stallone hasn’t given up on that acting gig.
His art retrospective and Sly doc on Netflix coincides with a career resurgence on TV where Stallone stars in the Paramount+ dramedy Tulsa King, which has been renewed for a second season, and his Paramount+ family reality show, The Family Stallone, which just finished airing its eight episodes and has also been renewed for a second season.