6 June – 5 July 1997
White Cube Duke Street
American artist Ashley Bickerton came to the critical fore in the 1980s, winning acclaim with his complex fusions of Pop, Minimal and Conceptual Art. In 1993, Bickerton embarked on a series of paintings that displayed his formidable skills as a draftsman in paintings that savage the idea of the self, and the human condition in general. These images presented a cast of characters that included chemically-altered adults, glamorised babies and surgically-transformed apes.
For his exhibition at White Cube, Bickerton produced a suite of paintings that constituted an acerbic reworking of the four central images of Western art history: the patron, the crucifixion, the nude and the self-portrait. It is The Patron (1997), who receives the most brutal treatment: sat on his designer sofa, flanked by a Brancusi and a Mondrian, he gawps at the viewer, masturbating with one hand and clasping a remote control with the other; a wig lies discarded on the sofa. However, it is the crucifixion image that is the most savage, with its figure of Christ contorted in pain.
These confrontational paintings depict life-size figures in painstaking and refined detail. Bickerton used pencil, acrylic and oil paint on wood panels to produce these exquisite, meticulously hyper-real paintings, images that recall the graphic brilliance of 15th century northern-European painting. Through them, the artist presented a searing commentary on the potent endurance of the relationships between money, religion, sex and narcissism.