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Ashley Bickerton

Artist

1/13: A world within a world: Bickerton's studio in Bali

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Ashley Bickerton

Artist

2/13: Surfing and Spirituality

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Ashley Bickerton

Artist

3/13: From Scumbag to Stratosphere

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Ashley Bickerton

Artist

4/13: Processing Criticism

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Ashley Bickerton

Artist

5/13: Beating the Competition

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Ashley Bickerton

Artist

6/13: Surviving on ideas

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Ashley Bickerton

Artist

7/13: New York Provincialism

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Ashley Bickerton

Artist

8/13: Never Stopped Finger Painting

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Ashley Bickerton

Artist

9/13: Several Points Along the Way

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Ashley Bickerton

Artist

10/13: A dumb idea is the best idea

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Ashley Bickerton

Artist

11/13: Art is not a Democracy

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Ashley Bickerton

Artist

12/13: A Painting Floats

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Ashley Bickerton

Artist

13/13: A Quiet Place To Produce Work

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AshleyBickerton

Ashley Bickerton’s art is a vivid and grotesque reprimand to consumerism and the contemporary art world in which he practices. Working through photography, painting and mixed media assemblages, his highly embellished works have made their way into some of the most important collections in the world.

Stepping away from New York and his association with Jeff Koons, Peter Halley and the Neo Geo movement, Bickerton has lived and practiced in Bali since the early 1990s. His home and studio compound (which he describes as “a plastic representation of my brain”) resembles a medieval Japanese fortress, with astounding views over hills to the ocean. But far from reflecting an idyllic ‘island exotica’, his works fixate on the compromising, dark and ambiguous underbelly of Balinese and Thai tourist cultures.

Using body paint, manipulated photographs and impossible coloration, his works slither around in the hyper-real glow of neon lights. There’s no romantic vision of a primitive culture to be seen - the archetypes here are conflicted concoctions of East and West, migrant figures who sit at the intersection of the primitive and the commercialism of modern island life. These enigmatic characters permeate his works from the “Blue Man” to his current fixation on “Island Girls”.

Serried ranks of clay heads occupy his workspace, stuffed with fake teeth and glass eyes, radiating a mixture of intensity and blankness. Roughly manipulated by hand, the large sculptures will eventually be adorned with luminous paint, necklaces of cigarettes and twisted cutlery. Posed, photographed and manipulated in photoshop, the final works demonstrate Bickerton’s equal passion for glamour and degradation.

Perhaps as a counterpoint to his continual travels with his parents as a child, which spanned continents and cultures, Ashley states that he rarely leaves his home, other than to go surfing. Whilst unspoiled nature rarely appears in his works, elements of surfing do - from the stylised angles of fibreglass board design to the decals and typefaces that adorn his canvasses.

Widely renowned as an art world iconoclast, Ashley’s works are undoubtedly confronting and visceral - but the endlessly repeated signature Bickerton serves as a reminder that it’s an exercise in branding rather than gratification. It remains the man himself that stands as the fountainhead for the art that is produced - a charismatic and competitive man with an ambivalent relationship to the outside world.

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