Bianca Pastel ‘the desire to communicate vs. the desire to hide’

Vertical Gallery, Chicago’s premier urban-contemporary art gallery, is proud to present ‘the desire to communicate vs. the desire to hide,’ Chicago artist Bianca Pastel’s first solo exhibition of original paintings.

‘the desire to communicate vs. the desire to hide,’ which runs from Feb. 2-24, features more than a dozen new canvases charting Pastel’s personal and professional evolution, with an emphasis on the experiences and emotions that shaped her adolescence and early adulthood. Pastel will attend the exhibit’s opening reception, taking place at Vertical Gallery on Friday, Feb. 2 from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

‘the desire to communicate vs. the desire to hide’ pivots on two of Pastel’s signature characters, Binky and $unny. The former was originally conceived as the centerpiece of ‘Yo, Binky,’ a proposed animated series depicting the semi-autobiographical adventures of three elementary school-aged Black girls; the program (produced by Pastel’s mentor, Chicago-born artist Hebru Brantley) was greenlighted by HBO Max, but halted by behind-the-scenes drama at the streaming network. The masked, non-binary $unny, on the other hand, draws on Pastel’s ongoing struggles to connect with the world at large. 

“Both characters are different versions of myself. $unny’s the one that hides, whereas Binky is the one that communicates. She’s very free-spirited, and doesn’t really care what other people think,” Pastel explains. “We all have so many versions of ourselves. We’re not one-dimensional. Making these characters helped me to find out who I was — it’s like I finally met myself. I hope viewers can relate. This show is for you more than for me, because I want you to learn something about me, and I want you to see yourself in this human being.”

Pastel — a lifelong devotee of Nineties-era Nickelodeon network fare like ‘Rugrats’ and ‘Hey Arnold’ — originally envisioned a career in animation before going on to study art and design at Columbia College. She joined Brantley’s Hebru Brand Studios in 2015. Pastel has since collaborated with brands including the Walt Disney Company and the NFL’s Chicago Bears, as well as rapper Vic Mensa. Vertical Gallery released Pastel’s art print “Binky Inna Bottle” in 2022, and in late 2023, she participated in the Vertical group show ‘Ode to….’

Bianca Pastel
‘the desire to communicate vs. the desire to hide’
February 2 – 24, 2024
Opening reception: Friday February 2, 5:00-8:00pm
Vertical Gallery
2006 W Chicago Ave #1R, Chicago, IL 60622