Ashley Johnson at Dupont Rail

Featuring paintings from the Intuit Series

Transmute, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 48 inches (152.4 x 121.92 cm). Photo: Dimitri Levanoff, Imagefoundry.

The Intuit Series

February 16 – March 4, 2023 (Hours: Thursday to Saturday, 1 – 5 pm)
Opening Reception: Saturday, February 18, 2-6 pm

Dupont Rail, 1444 Dupont Street, Unit 10, Toronto
Located in the Junction Triangle, West Toronto

The Intuit paintings explore a hybrid figural abstraction with the intention of projecting ‘meaning’. Metaphorically, they reflect states of becoming and reference a variety of environmental ideas like life cycles in the animal, plant and insect world.

I begin with a random small line drawing. Later I extrapolate this onto canvas and interpret the linear forms to establish a dialogue. Aesthetically, I am interested in expanding the ‘narrative’. I use the figuration/abstraction mechanism to loosen up objective identity and allow free flow of imagination.

The painting titles are often verbs implying action as a process of becoming. I parallel David Bohm’s concept of Implicate Order, where everything is interconnected and enfolded within. This is an alternative reading of the particle/wave dilemma that Nils Bohr developed in the Quantum Mechanical theory of reality. It aligns more with William Blake’s poetic idea of finding the whole world in a grain of sand.

– Ashley Johnson

Transcend-Ant, 2022, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 36 inches (121.92 x 91.44 cm). Photo: Dimitri Levanoff, Imagefoundry.

About Ashley Johnson

Ashley Johnson is a Toronto artist and writer. Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, he studied fine arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

In 1992 he co-founded Dasart, an artist’s collective aimed at rethinking the connection between humanity and environment. Dasart was active from 1992 until 2002 with many national and international installations in public galleries. “Dasart Victoria”, contrasted the optimism of the Industrial Revolution with late 20th century concerns about industrial waste. The exhibition combined Victorian paintings in the museums’ collections with Dasart works constructed from old colonial maps, industrial debris, concrete, garden waste, kinetic sculpture, electricity and the sound of old motors like the Blackstone starting and stopping.

From 1999 to 2002 the Dasart-curated exhibition “Transmigrations”, traveled internationally and later nationally. It included cultural production from 13 culturally diverse South African artists, supplemented by selected artists from host cities. In Tijuana the show was nominated for the Cultura Premios award.

His last project in South Africa titled “Cannibal Communicator: The Congo Holocaust” dealt with the history of rubber from when HM Stanley explored the Congo region to Patrice Lumumba’s assassination. A mechanical voice tracks through Stanley’s diaries and the devastation caused by Belgian King Leopold II’s rapacious exploitation of the wild rubber resources under the guise of philanthropism, aided by the Catholic Church. A kinetic mechanical head masticates as the viewer moves through a ribcage of elephant tusks supporting the original images taken by Alice Seeley Harris, a British Baptist missionary with a Kodak camera, who documented the atrocities and smuggled the photographs out of the country. The installation was selected for a national competition, the Brett Kebble Award, but unfortunately the patron was assassinated so it was never shown.

He relocated to Toronto in 2005 where he was represented by Headbones Gallery. He has shown his Primal Series of paintings that challenge cultural taboos and seek the animal in humans. After 2012 he turned from explicit figuration to the current hybridized form, exploring the concept of ‘loosening identity’ through ‘chaosmosis’. Marks are bound to the subject or have their boundaries relaxed incrementally for osmosis. In keeping with his earlier work, his new paintings are visceral and explore cultural taboos.

As a writer he has contributed to various publications. From 2001 to 2005 he was the art critic for Business Day, a national daily newspaper in South Africa. In Canada he has written reviews for Canadian Art, Vie Des Arts and Dart magazines.

Currently he has written an essay incorporating a new theory of vision that strives to understand ‘reality’ in a more complex way. This essay is in a book titled ‘A Kind of Shelter’ edited by Love in the Time of Covid and published by Massey University Press, New Zealand. He has developed a new manner of composition in a series titled Quantum Looking, which seeks to embrace the uncertainty and changeability of spatial perception more in line with the quantum mechanical or pilot wave theory anomaly. These works can be viewed on his Instagram channel, #ashleyjohnsonartist.

Artist Contact
Instagram: @ashleyjohnsonartist

Contagion, 2020, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 48 inches (152.4 x 121.92 cm). Photo: Dimitri Levanoff, Imagefoundry.

About Dupont Rail

Dupont Rail is a premium pop-up event space in Toronto that provides a gallery and hosting infrastructure for artists to exhibit their work.

Located in a commercial condo complex with on-site parking, Dupont Rail is a new event-space that’s easily transformed into a meeting room, photo/film set, retail pop-up, exhibition space, cinema theatre or private dining salon.

With approximately 900 ft2 of floor space, it has lots of wall-space to mount installations or artwork and lots of space to spread out. An automatic garage door opens easily to help alleviate Covid concerns.

The space is available for daily, weekly and monthly rentals. For more compete pricing information, please contact us at

Dupont Rail
1444 Dupont Street, Unit 10, Toronto, ON, M6P 4H3

Accessibility: Dupont Rail is fully accessible

Image descriptions:
1. Transmute tries to evoke an alchemical world of change as applied to species under threat. I amalgamate elements from different creatures into the whole. The sense of water or air is contradictory; it could be either or both. The tiger, lionfish and monarch butterfly are like ghosts in the pictorial structure, embedded in the human form.
2. Transcend-Ant imagines that all good ants must go to heaven. The painting tries to explore space and perception in a new way, making identity fluid. It is painted in a spirit of post-humanism.
3. Contagion refers to the 2020 pandemic and the intersection of humans, caves with animals like horseshoe bats and pangolins. In this image I have allowed a spirit of ambiguity and contradiction to define the space. Forms are fragmentary and flow into one another. There is a sense of the virus invading everything.