Ashley Bickerton, studio view. Courtesy of Lehmann Maupin.
Ashley Bickerton pushes further into his dystopic, end-times vision for his second solo exhibition at Lehmann Maupin Gallery, 540 West 26th Street. The gallery will present a new group of Bickerton’s large-scale paintings called “The Eight Paintings” along with bronze sculptures. These new works are a fusion of painting, photography and sculpture and exude sexuality, exoticism and color.
The eerie quality of the green men from Bickerton’s earlier work has now given way to the raucous and psychedelic-hued adventures of his blue “20th Century-Man” as he navigates a world populated with shamelessly inflated women and littered with the wreckage of “existentialism” and “escapism.” Bickerton represents this world of abundance and sensual opulence while addressing his concerns as a painter.
He employs models and actors whom he paints on directly, then photographs numerous times. Bickerton then manipulates the images with a computer almost to the point of implausibility. These are printed onto canvas and altered further with paint. As a means to question the art object as commodity, these new paintings are displayed in elaborate hand-carved frames. While Paul Gauguin was searching for something intangible in the human spirit, with Bickerton we see a fin-de-siècle malady, and an almost artistic certainty that we are approaching the end of the road.
Ashley Bickerton was born in the West Indies in 1959. He studied at the California Institute of the Arts, graduating in 1982, and continued his education in the Whitney Museum Independent Studies Program in New York. Over the last twenty-five years Bickerton has exhibited extensively around the world and his artwork can be found in many museum collections including the Museum of Modern Art, The Guggenheim Museum, The Whitney Museum of American Art, all New York; The Tate Gallery, London and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. Currently his work may be seen in Fractured Figure: Works from the Dakis Joannou Collection at the Deste Foundation in Athens, Greece and recently, he was included in The Incomplete at the Chelsea Art Museum and the East Village USA retrospective at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. Bickerton was a seminal figure in the East Village scene in New York and one of the original members of the group of artists that came to be known as “Neo-Geo. ” He remains an influential figure with younger generations today and since 1993 Bickerton has taken up full-time residence on the island of Bali where he continues to work.