Tuesday, January 12, 2010

“Good job Ashley! That’s how to swing the bat.”

There you have it. Our leadoff batter is safely aboard first base. With commitments to four paintings, day one of releasing her show, I am convinced the
remainder of January will follow accordingly. With all the pre-game feedback I had been receiving, I knew we’d have a strong start. Ashley’s growth from her first Knapp Gallery opening all but assured me that the new work would go over well.
Ashley’s personal growth since the summer has afforded her the confidence to offer up new renderings that are a bit softer than the first show, but without giving up
that edge we’ve come to know and deem her fingerprint. Regarding the “edge”, still a far cry from PG, her work now includes some notable differences since her first time out of the gate.

Immediately upon stepping into Ashley’s installation, (rear of gallery) we are confronted with a sense of completeness, a resolve if you will, in her storytelling. Resolution and reconciliation might seem impossible considering the
in your face explicit and elicit content of her work. This new work, albeit with a “softened edge” is remarkably accessible, allowing us to engage. Once inside her world, there is an unfolding of detail and nuance revealing bits and data in consumable chunks. Expelled From Eden, though shocking is not about shock value. Ashley is not an entertainer. This is not a performance. Simply put she paints. She is not contemplating how to get a reaction. She opens her mouth and these are the visual words that are spoken. This is her daily language. No fronting here. My girl is straight up and flat out honest in her work.

The backdrop, her wall work, the vibrant macro environment into which she sets her sellable vignettes, is settled while articulately driven with purpose. The ensuing integration is demonstrably and definably Ashley. The ephemeral nature of her wall work is distinctly Ashley as well. She cares least for the work that most viewers consider lost in the repainting of the gallery, at the show’s conclusion. Overt confidence of skill testifies to her authenticity. With machine-like consistency, she can produce on-demand imagery with blinding speed; while talking and drinking a cup of coffee. Ashley is fluid and comfortable in her work.

Expelled from Eden’s maturation of imagery over the imagery of Forgiven, her first show at the Knapp Gallery has me most excited. Certain paintings like Girl from New Orleans demonstrate this most definitively. Key to Ashley’s new found maturity is the use of a painting within a painting. The end result is a multi-tiered layered hierarchy of imagery. Girl from New Orleans includes a microcosm of particulars, personal dramas that define and redefine the depicted image of the child. Consequently, the hard copy, the sellable painting though set within the wall work, because of the micro description, maintains a significant stand alone quality as well. Throughout Expelled from Eden, Ashley employs multiple derivatives of this new found equation.

Ashley has committed significant real estate, an entire wall, to the events surrounding hurricane Katrina and its victims. More than a dedication, our painter sought to create a visual landscape that transcends wall art into an active participatory installation. Many of Ashley’s painted Katrina images are derived from photographs. Powerfully stacked imagery intensifies the sensation of drowning. Desiring the viewer’s consideration and sensitivity of Katrina’s immensity, Ashley adopts a visually colloquial language of Afro-centric imagery; an abstract aesthetic of a black artist’s perspective. Ashley, dogmatic in her approach, points us to perspectives not typically our own. Recurring and socially dynamic themes of poverty and struggle for power typify her testament to personal experience.