Gajah Gallery is proud to present Bali based American artist Ashley Bickerton’s first solo show at the gallery, on view at 140 Hill Street, #01-08, Old Hill Police Station from 26 April – 25 May 2014.
This exhibition marks a new direction for the American master of philosophical funk: large (two meters plus) paintings on canvas of vignettes from the tropical apocalypse, executed with a fine, finished polish. In the recent past Bickerton has created elaborate assemblages that approached deep-relief sculpture, high-resolution digital photographs overlaid with found objects and heavy impasto. Yet the artist has always been first and foremost a painter: With the new series he makes a conscious, almost defiant effort to re-establish himself as a master painter in the grand tradition.
Junk Anthropologies puts the focus on the image — and what provocative imagery it is. Bickerton, a resident of Bali since 1993, has witnessed the ongoing corruption of this medieval agrarian society from the inside. One of the central works in his new show is an hommage to Gauguin (a perennial obsession), a dual portrait of beautiful young Balinese women, their bare skin coated in gleaming aluminum paint, who wear coronas of brilliantly coloured flowers and pose with a platter of luscious tropical fruit. Alluring and desirable, of course, yet the figures are poised on the edge of irreality and permeated with an aroma of incipient rottenness. In the canvas that gives the exhibition its title, Bickerton quotes Gauguin directly, with a meticulously rendered copy of the French master’s iconic Tahitian Landscape that floats like a cloud beside the radiant silver nude. The paintings in Junk Anthropologies will seduce the viewer’s eye even as it challenges the mind with a fine, dense web of ironies.
Ashley Bickerton (b. 1959, Barbados, West Indies) graduated from the California Institute of the Arts in 1982 and continued his education in the Independent Studies Program (ISP) at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. A seminal figure in the East Village scene of the 1980s, Bickerton has been associated with the “Neo-Geo” approach to art making. For the last 20 years, he has been living in Bali, an environment that has influenced his art making in distinctive ways and enabled him to investigate new ideas of culture and beauty. Bickerton’s work has been included in exhibitions in museums around the world, including the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2012); Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2012); Victoria & Albert Museum, London (2011); New Museum, New York (2010); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2010); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2006), among others. He has also been included in prominent international biennales, among them the 9th Biennale of Sydney, Australia (1992); the 44th Venice Biennale (1990); and the 1989 Whitney Biennial. His work is included in the collections of Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, among others.