Ashley Johnson

Ashley is a Canadian artist based in Toronto. Originally from Johannesburg, South Africa, he obtained a humanities degree in fine arts (BAFA) and a Higher Diploma in Education (HDE) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He trained in traditional artistic disciplines of painting and sculpture, with a strong emphasis on drawing. Over the course of his career he has produced work in both disciplines while his installations combine strategies and often include sound.

In 1992he co-founded DASART, an artists’ collective striving to rethink the connection between humanity and environment. Dasart was active from 1992 until 2002, with many national and international installations in public galleries and museums. These projects dealt with social themes. The “Dasart/Victoria” installation contrasted the optimism of the Industrial Revolution with late 20th century concerns about industrial waste. The exhibitions combined Victorian paintings in the museums’ collections with Dasart works constructed from old colonial maps, industrial debris, garden waste, electricity, motors and sound.

From 1999 to 2002 the Dasart exhibition “Transmigrations: Rituals & Items”, traveled internationally and later nationally. It included cultural production from 13 ethnically diverse South African artists. Certain artists from Toronto (David Hlynsky), Los Angeles (Margi Scharff) and Tijuana (Hugo Crosthwaite) were invited to participate. In Tijuana the show was nominated for the Cultura Premios award.

He relocated to Toronto in 2005, continuing to address social themes through paintings that amalgamate animals and environment with human culture. 'Fin' (2016) is an 8 x 20 foot painting on the subject of sharkfinning. His Intuit Series explores regions that include figuration and abstraction, attempting to expand the narrative. Throughout his work there is a desire to communicate ideas through the painted image.