|Education||California Institute of the Arts, Whitney Museum Independent Study Program|
|Known for||Contemporary Art|
Ashley Bickerton (born 1959 in Barbados) is a contemporary artist, presently living in Bali. A mixed-media artist, Bickerton often combines photographic and painterly elements with industrial and found object assemblages. He is associated with the early 1980s art movement Neo-Geo, which includes artists such as Jeff Koons and Peter Halley.
Born in Barbados in 1959, Bickerton is the son of Derek Bickerton, a linguist and scholar of Creole and pidgin languages. His father's research work caused his family to move around the globe every several years. As a child Ashley Bickerton lived in a number of countries across four continents. The family finally settled in Hawaii in 1972. British by birth, Bickerton became a naturalized US citizen in the mid-1980s. He spent 12 years in New York where he established his career before finally settling on the island of Bali in 1993, where he presently resides.
Bickerton graduated from the California Institute of the Arts in 1982, then moved to New York to attend the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. After exhibiting for a few years in New York, he was included in a four person show at the Sonnabend Gallery in 1986. The exhibition launched the careers of a quartet of young artists that collectively came to be known as the "Fantastic Four," and includes Jeff Koons, Peter Halley and Meyer Vaisman. These artists formed the core of what came to be known as the "Neo-Geo" movement. In 2004 The New Museum exhibited "East Village USA," a show that featured "Neo-Geo" artists including Bickerton. In 2009 he was included in Pop Life: Art in a Material World, at the Tate Modern in London The following year he was exhibited in Collecting Biennials at the Whitney Museum of American Art, which acted as a counterpoint to the 2010 Biennial and paid homage to the previous 80 years of Whitney Biennials. He has had solo exhibitions at Lehman Maupin Gallery (2006, 2008, 2011), Sonnabend Gallery, (2000, 2004, 2006), both in New York, and White Cube in London (2001, 2009).
Over the last twenty-five years, Bickerton has exhibited his work internationally and is included in public art and museum collections. His works are held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art; the Tate; the Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain, Paris; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Berardo Collection Museum in Lisbon, Portugal; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
In April 2014, Bickerton held his first solo exhibition at Gajah Gallery . The month long exhibition, Junk Anthropologies, marked a new direction for the American master of philosophical funk, where he re-established himself as a master painter in the grand tradition. The focus of the works is about the ongoing corruption of Bali that he witnessed being a resident there, with the styles greatly influenced by Paul Gauguin, whom he has a perennial obsession for.
Ashley Bickerton's work has explored issues in contemporary art related to the commidification of the art object itself. Often his objects are grotesque in a self-aware manner and are often a critique of capitalism.
In the 1980s Bickerton made a series of works which resembled packing cases and crates, covered with corporate logos. His early work is noted for its display of corporate logos and constructions titled as either "Self-Portraits," "Commercial pieces," or "Anthropospheres." They are typically Assemblages of technological or industrial materials with the inclusion of found elements and screen printed iconographic images. These seemingly functional objects without clear purpose are often covered in various logos, technological signage, and codes. His artwork "Abstract Painting for People 4" made in 1987 is now included in the collection of François Pinault as of 2007.
Singapore Tyler Print Institute
Collaboration with Yogyakarta Art Lab
Ashley Bickerton’s most recent project has been a collaboration with the Yogyakarta Art Lab (YAL). YAL is Gajah Gallery’s major initiative based in Yogyakarta; Indonesia’s up and coming art hub, co-founded in April 2012 by Yunizar, and Jasdeep Sandhu, owner of Gajah Gallery. This collaboration involves Ashley Bickerton creating series of sculptures which examined what Bickerton would like to think of as the "mitochondrial eve". Originally derived from clay models the artist created in his Bali studio, they are being reinvented in Jogjakarta in a variety of archival materials centered on cast aluminum. These new works now coming out of YAL have been described by Jasdeep Sandhu as "Some of the more important contemporary sculpture produced in the past 10 years".
Bickerton continues to develop work within his established themes and iconography of tropical surrealism, green-headed characters, and assemblages. His work in 2006 and 2007 has taken the form of large-format digital prints and paintings with thick wooden frame constructions with various inlays. These elements can be seen in "Made's Warung" 2006 and "Green Head with Inlay 1" (2007).
2014 marked the start of a new series of Silver Ladies, which are manifested in a double portrait of two identical subjects, beautiful young Balinese women, nude except for a floral sash around their hips and coronas of tropical flowers. Their bare skin and dreadlocked hair are painted shiny silver, their lips in vivid colours. The first work in this series is a painting titled 2 C (A)W E2 P.G. 2 T(B) W. The work carries this tauntingly enigmatic title, which is painted in bold crimson on the lower left and right edges of the canvas. It is an esoteric cipher, which can only be unlocked by the initiate who holds the key. It may “solved” thus: “Two Cherries Warhol’s Double Elvis Paul Gauguin Two Tahitian/Balinese Women.” “Two Cherries” indicates that the model for both figures is the artist’s Balinese wife, Cherry Saraswati Bickerton as quoted from the catalogue Junk Anthropologies - Ashley Bickerton written by Jamie James and published by Gajah Gallery. As for the portrayal of doubled identical subjects, Bickerton closely follows the composition of Two Tahitian Women, in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum, substituting a platter of fruit for Gauguin’s dish of red flower petals. Similar association can also be found in Andy Warhol’s double Elvis paintings produced in 1963, which he titled Elvis 2 Times, where the artist used the technique of silkscreen printing to produce the same image twice, side by side, creating twins, just as Bickerton has done with the two Cherries.
- Holland Cotter, Art in Review; Ashley Bickerton, The New York Times, May 19, 2006.
- Tim Woods, Beginning Postmodernism, Manchester University Press, 1999, p. 126, ISBN 0-7190-5211-4
- New Museum "East Village USA" 2004.
- Tate Modern "Pop Life: Art in a Material World", 2009
- Whitney Museum of American Art Collecting Biennials, 2010
- Dominique Nahas, Ashley Bickerton at Sonnabend, Art in America, Feb 2000.
- Irit Rogoff, Terra Infirma: Geography's Visual Culture, Routledge, 2000, p. 60, ISBN 0-415-09615-4
- Sandhu, Jasdeep; James, Jamie (2014). Junk Anthropologies - Ashley Bickerton. Gajah Gallery. ISBN 978-981-09-0091-5.
- Lehmann Maupin Gallery
- INFRAME TV
- Sonnabend Gallery, Ashley Bickerton
- Singapore Tyler Print Institute, Ashley Bickerton