Bali-based Bickerton hires models and actors, paints directly on their faces and bodies, then photographs them. The images are then altered digitally, printed on canvas, and painted some more. Each is then stretched, and displayed in a hand-carved, elaborately decorated frame. In The Village Voice, Leslie Camhi says Bickerton’s eight remarkable paintings depict an inner reality, a monstrous hybrid of exotic beauty, expatriate rapaciousness, and end-of-the-world angst. “The canvases, in particular, are jarring fusions of painting and digitally altered photographs, where photorealist veracity combines with surreal color, scale, and content. They depict our artist/hero/sexual tourist—a man with Caucasian features and blue skin—gone native with a vengeance. In one, he writhes in agony beneath a red devil, in the throes of some unnamed addiction. Elsewhere, beneath a green sky dotted with bloodshot yellow clouds, he demonically proffers exotic fruits while surrounded by multihued, mostly naked native women. (Another canvas shows off the squalling brood he’s fathered with one of them.) The frames, inlaid with mother-of-pearl and coins and carved with touristy scenes drawn from island life or mythology, are spotted with holes, as if the painting’s very status as an art commodity were threatened with extinction. The work as a whole confronts our voracious desire for beauty with the mirror of its deeply corrupting influence.” Read more.
“Ashley Bickerton: New Work,” Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York, NY. Through May 3.