press release

Atomic Cloud Studies, Oil on paper (set of 10), 26.7 x 21.3 cm (each, unframed) Max Wigram Gallery is proud to present a second solo exhibition by British artist Michael Ashcroft. The exhibition brings together paintings and drawings sourced from illustrations in religious catechisms and travel guides of the 1950s and 60s. The title of the exhibition refers to Ashcroft’s new series of “God Paintings” in which the artist has made use of subjects associated with God’s creation of the world. Their optimistic, clichéd character is made to fit a Christian agenda through the depiction of an unspoilt world.

Ashcroft’s process of “copying” seemingly banal landscapes from poor quality reproductions began in 2001 when the artist subverted “sublime” views into politically charged topographies. The artist understands landscape painting as a system of conventions and ideologies ordered in such a way as to show its embedded contradictions. His previous series USSR (2001) showed environments promoting ideological superiority through the representation of natural glories. This new series of paintings depicts supernatural environments that the artist has enlarged to epic scale to focus simultaneously on their immediate power and impotent redundancy.

Cut from old travel guides and arranged in totemic compositions, three sets of drawings instead play with a process of erasure and addition where the artist has changed the meaning of scenes by deleting the presence of mountaineers on rocky summits, as in Other People’s Achievements (thus frustrating the sense of satisfaction in being photographically immortalised in that very moment). In other instances Ashcroft exposes the politically incorrect apparatus of “inspirational” imagery in returning places to an ideal Eden by painting over a couple’s swimming suits strolling on a beach, or cynically superimposing nuclear bomb explosions over tranquil marine bays.

Michael Ashcroft (b. 1974, UK) lives and works in London. Recent exhibitions include The Triumph Of Painting (group) at The Saatchi Gallery, London, UK; Seeing Things (group) at Galleria Fabjsaglia, Rimini, Italy; News From Nowhere (group) at Lucy Mackintosh Gallery, Lausanne, Switzerland. Forthcoming shows include a solo exhibition this year at Lucy Mackintosh Gallery, Lausanne, Switzerland.

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Michael Ashcroft
Seven Days