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By Alex Guibord and Vicky Tam

The Iranian Student Association of Ryerson University (ISARU) is composed of 500 people, but its current exhibit focuses on only two of them.

Second Vision showcases the portfolios of artists Ehsan Kiabakhsh, 23, and Niloufar Salimi, 24, who are Iranian immigrants to Canada and second-year drawing and painting majors at the Ontario College of Art and Design.

“These students’ (artwork) in Canada is sort of a combination of the east and the west,” said ISARU’s president, Nima Ahmadi. He explained both Kiabakhsh and Salimi have prior artistic training in Iran, but have came to Canada for their education. “I thought it would be nice to show their talent and art to the association and to others — Iranians as well as other (cultural) communities,” Ahmadi said.

He said the importance of the event to the club and community is the first of its kind for the ISARU. “We are excited to see the feedback of Ryerson and the community.” The original concept for the exhibition was what Ahmadi called a “recognition of oneself through art,” and the total appreciation of cultural influence. However, the idea was reworked as Ahmadi felt adopting a specific topic for this exhibition would limit the impact of the event.

Instead, he explains Second Vision conveys “two different perspectives and two different visions,” without any specific idea behind it. Once the idea took off, the actual painting was underway. “They settled on 22 to 25 art pieces, which they created for the event,” said Ahmadi, adding most of which were done in acrylics and water colour. “Their work is very different; a mixture the community needs to see for itself…it is a completely modern movement.”

While traditional Iranian art, Ahmadi said, uses a dark colour palette, Kiabakhsh and Salimi are not afraid to be colourful. The contrast shows how the artists visually convey the influence that Canadian art education has had on their craft. “It does not represent Iranian art; it is the art through the perspective of Iranian students that the community will see,” Ahmadi said. His hope is that the event will have the community see the evolution of two artists of similar backgrounds and how they have both come to Canada to see art in two different ways. “(The question is) how do second-year students compare to each other?

“I wanted to show two different forms of media; I wanted to show different perspectives — how these different people and art students think at this stage of time.” Second Vision runs until Friday, Jan. 20 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Oakham House’s Thomas Lounge Gallery.

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