Artists imagine biennale — and voila!

Ashley Pleasant and Gavin MacDougall (photo by Tamar Atik/Toronto Observer)
Ashley Pleasant and Gavin MacDougall (photo by Tamar Atik/Toronto Observer)

The just-concluded “Fassie International Biennale” (FIB) was a Toronto art exhibit that featured pieces from 18 artists who study in East York.

“Each artist decided to go with what I would call a ‘best of.’ In other words, each artist just basically puts in a piece of work that they like and thinks represents them,” said David McClyment, the co-ordinator of the fine arts program at Centennial College’s East York campus.

McClyment said the idea behind the show was an unconventional one.

“We decided to invent a historical exhibition called the Fassie International Biennale,” McClyment said. “What we’re telling people is: ‘This is Canada’s first and most prestigious exhibition and it had a long and spectacularly infamous history.’ All of which we’re making up.”

Ashley Pleasant featured her piece, “Unknown,” at FIB. The 21-year-old said she’s been focusing on nebulas and space lately, which are the inspirations behind her painting.

“This piece specifically is a person, but inside the hood, there is a nebula. The reason for that is, it’s not necessarily inside a person, but it’s their space, their world, it’s that personality, it’s them,” Pleasant said. “There are no words or other images. It’s just colours, feelings, kind of a sense of who and what they are.”

“I want (people) to see the person, but think of who they are and think about themselves. It’s more like a question piece of ‘Why?’ ‘What?’” she said.

Pleasant’s work has been displayed in Toronto galleries before. She said she worked on “Unknown” for about two months and was nervous about displaying it. She describes herself as a “weird” person.

“My art’s usually very satirical — out there,” she said.

Artist Gavin MacDougall, 53, said the opposite about his work.

“I like bright colours, I love juxtaposing bright and dark. I think there’s generally a bit of joy in each (piece),” he said.

MacDougall, an East York resident, created “Nwave” after painting 15 other urban-themed pieces, some of which have been displayed in galleries across Toronto.

“I walk around the city quite a bit and I’ve taken photos of markings on the pavement that utility crews will make,” MacDougall said. “I find them very interesting from an aesthetic viewpoint.”

“But even moreso, speaking about communication and levels of government, society (and) the community…. We depend on these services and I call them urban hieroglyphics because they’re symbols which communicate what’s going to be done or what’s under the surface,” he said.

MacDougall makes compositions on Photoshop, compiling different elements from the photos he takes, pastes them together, prints them out and uses them as references for painting on canvas.

“It’s certainly a reflection of me because it’s my thought process that’s developed this. I’m not just portraying a random scene,” MacDougall said. “If you come to see FIB, seeing is believing. There’s probably some truth involved in it.”

The show took place April 23-28 at the Telephone Booth Gallery on Dundas Street West.