Simon Oldfield Gallery is pleased to present At Home with the Ashtons, a new series of paintings and installations by Ben Ashton; his second UK solo show.
Ashton’s refined and engaging paintings and installations continue the debate within his work that combines art historical technique with contemporary ideas and references. In this new series, Ashton distils the domestic rituals of life, which are then elevated by the myriad of art historical references. He challenges us to look at what we are seeing and to question it by presenting us with a different perspective on a familiar world; reflecting the magnetism between two people and all those who enter their world.
Ashton’s exciting and original artistic vision leads him to employ imagery that removes the elevation of the subject through mythical role play and instead presents snapshots of everyday life in his studio, where he lives and works with his wife, Fiona; capturing them and their guests in public and private moments of work and play. Through these striking paintings and installations, Ashton gives the viewer permission to be the voyeur and enter private moments of the beautifully mundane to the intimately explicit, which would otherwise be hidden from public gaze.
We are able to identify with all of the subjects and the situations in which they find themselves – intensely discussing how to pay the bills, or sinking into the water of a recently run bath while being watched by the one you love, or stepping indoors with rain drenched hair. Ashton manages to capture the immediate in his paintings, thus challenging and acknowledging the spectral presence of photography for contemporary painters.
Boundless and frozen, the paintings and installations take the viewer into a world confined within the walls of the artist’s studio and bring forward a selected version of a recorded instant. The sheer physicality of the paint and the optical illusions created by Ashton’s installations, serve to intensify the experience of looking into his world, but in contrast to a photograph the subjects appear divorced from the reality of the scene. Placing a layer of artifice and presenting a conscious evolution that seeks to capture the intricacy of illusion and collusion.
It is an approach underpinned by Ashton’s continued interest in stereoscopy and optical illusion, which serves to place the emphasis on altered realities and self-deception. “There is a willing suspension of disbelief,” says Ashton. “People want to be fooled, they want to be taken out of themselves and enter another world. A lot of my work is about taking myself out of myself. I want people to walk away from my work with a certain amazement with the illusion.”
Ashton gained a First Class degree in Fine Art from Newcastle University and a Masters from the Slade School of Fine Art (2006-2008). Selected exhibitions and residencies: The House of Voltaire 2010 in collaboration with Princess Julia (in support of Studio Voltaire); The Bloomsbury Festival 2010; solo exhibition at Simon Oldfield Gallery 2009; The Brain Unravelled, London, 2009 (alongside Antony Gormley); artist-in-residence at the 2008 Slade Summer School; Ascension, London, 2008 and current artist-in-residence at The Bloomsbury Studio (2008-2011).