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Various Small Fires
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Ashley Bickerton at Various Small Fires


Ashley Bickerton, an artist who came up in the neo-geo scene in 1980s New York alongside artists like Peter Halley and Jeff Koons, has an exhibition on view at VSF titled Landscapes, Seascapes, and Interiors. His first with the gallery, Bickerton’s show is a welcome deep-dive into the artist’s new works, which utilize human refuse that washes ashore in Bali where the artist lives and works part-time. In his Flotsam series, Bickerton assembles trash — ocean-worn plastic items like flip flops, toothbrushes, forks, and lighters — in organically flowing lines, using bits of micro-plastic to guide the refuse along his created jetstreams. Behind these choreographed items are painted landscapes, which add a pastoral charm to the more ominous themes of climate change. These works are housed in substantial frames that feel like time capsules — a preservation of human activity from a specific time and place. 

His Vector series takes this further with brightly-colored flotation devices rigged to the frames on each work. Here, the painted landscapes are replaced with mirrors, so his created shadow boxes might float forever, poetically reflecting itself onto the surrounding environment. The sculptural Floating Ocean Chunk occupies a corner of the gallery, stringing together ropes, carabiners, and nautical flags with a glowing blue resin cube enclosed within stainless steel housing, like a piece of the ocean delicately preserved within a tangle of junk.

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Photo: Ashley Bickerton, Landscapes, Seascapes, and Interiors (installation view) (2021). Image courtesy of the artist and Various Small Fires, Los Angeles/Seoul.