Caribbean-born, Bali-based artist Ashley Bickerton was one of the guest speakers at this year’s ArtJOG12 ‘Special Presentation’, a panel discussion that also included FlashArt Magazine editor Nicola Trezzi and Wang Zineng from Christie’s Auction House. Bickerton’s perhaps best known to Kiwi audiences for his inclusion in Bright Paradise, the first Auckland Triennial curated by Alan Smith in 2001. Back then, Bickerton created his lurid visions of paradise gone wrong by hand, and recalled spending days crouched over canvases fastidiously painting out evidence of his brushstrokes. This way of working pained him so much that he developed a new technique which he explained in detail during the ArtJOG discussion.
Disinterested in painting, sculpture and photography individually, Bickerton has instead combined the three to realise new and twisted visions of modern man in the tropics. He creates meticulously composed mis en scene including himself and others in paint-encrusted clothes as well as sculpting grotesque faces in tactile clay, inserting glass eyes, headdresses, prosthetic teeth. Each component is photographed, re-photographed, photoshopped and then printed onto canvas which is repainted entirely. The process takes months. Finally, the works are inserted into heavily decorated frames. Or in the case ‘SH(ME)_Gold_1’ (above), onto thick layers of ply that reassert the objectness of the work. The result, says the artist, is a ‘parody of painting’.