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Lehmann Maupin
540 West 26 Street
New York, NY 10001
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Ashley Bickerton & Nicholas Pol
by Lehmann Maupin
Location: 201 Chrystie Street
Artist(s): Ashley BICKERTON, Nicolas POL
Date: 21 Mar - 20 Apr 2013

Lehmann Maupin collaborates with Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld on a two-person exhibition pairing long time gallery artist Ashley Bickerton and Nicolas Pol together for the first time. The exhibition presents a dialogue between two distinctive and wildly imaginative artists, born of different generations, who draw upon a similar reactive nature to construct vibrant, fantastical, and often times, otherworldly images of apocalyptic proportion.

Ashley Bickerton’s work from the late 80s and early 90s was fueled by a critical assessment of America’s obsession with consumerism; created in reaction to the sleek packaging, corporate branding, and growing reliance on technology that dominated the cultural landscape at the time. His object-based sculptures, or “Culture-scapes,” from this period were angry, defiant constructions covered in logos and seemingly built to withstand apocalyptic devastation. Bickerton’s move to Bali in 1997 paralleled a dramatic visual shift to figurative painting and sculpture. As an expat, he found the “idyllic” paradise to be “riddled with corruption, greed, snarling Third-World traffic and a booming 21st century economy.” His new work depicting scenes of modern-day hedonism, carried out by fictional characters of a surreal and hallucinatory nature, portray a world lacking in morality, one that has moved beyond redemption. Five works by Bickerton, spanning a twenty-year period, will be featured in the exhibition, including four paintings and an early sculpture from 1992 entitled Seascape: Floating Costume to Drift for Eternity III (Elvis Suit).

A similar sense of absurdity and dark humor plays into Nicolas Pol’s paintings of obscure visions where sin and forbidden fantasies run wild. Six new canvases reveal a vast array of historical references, ranging from medieval times to modern scientific advancements, as well as artistic styles, dating from the Renaissance to present day. Like Bickerton, Pol constructs allegorical fictions rife with sexual innuendo, disillusionment and malevolence. His central characters are often skeletal depictions of the fallen man struggling for salvation. In Grey Martus, a group of overly stimulated island inhabitants attempt to exorcize themselves from surrounding evil. Pol also returns to his fictional world Neverlodge, half brothel, half adult amusement park, in the painting Fat Man and Little Boy on NL Map, where scenes from a nuclear disaster are juxtaposed against a map of the artist’s sinister play land.

Image: © Ashley Bickerton, Lehmann Maupin

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