Nick Ashby

Everyone I Know

October 17 - October 31 2009

Grounded in a distinctly urban sensibility, Nick Ashby's recent paintings have a largely biographical origin. They draw on personal experience and specific events as a way of exploring issues of identity and the individual's sense of being and place. Although his pictorial style has changed over the past decade, Ashby's intention is constant. The early linear, figurative abstractions; the darkly intriguing bird series and the most recent portrait works all aim to move the viewer out of the present and into an interior space where the subconscious and memory reside.

The paintings in the ‘everyone I know' body of work metaphorically reference Ashby's introspective process. Employing self-portraiture, he investigates the visual and psychological implications of how the human countenance is changed by mood, time and the light which falls upon it. Increasingly Ashby uses ‘ephemeral media', usually in the form of discarded cardboard packaging, to imply transience and the fragility of memory which may ‘break down, change and reconstitute over time to create different narratives'.

The show's dramatic centrepiece is a large monochromatic painting whose title, ‘everyone I know', also names the exhibition. ‘There is a sense of irony in the title, but my intention is not just ironic', muses Ashby. ‘For me, the work is more about revisiting a particular subject on many occasions, over an extended period of time'. Like the bizarre contents of a ‘curiosity cabinet', 104 disembodied, male heads confront the viewer. Identically dressed, all but one are depicted from a 3/4 view perspective. Most stare out into the distance but a few look down, one looks back at his companion and one is a child. None smile but the emotions are palpable: quizzical, worried, angry, suspicious, resolute, defeated, pensive, determined, resigned. Less single units than suggestive of a whole, the portraits come together in a silent gathering of the multiple facets of personality. As Ashby explains, ‘I work through an idea thoroughly until the thing that has driven it has, in a sense, been resolved either emotionally or technically - processes that for me are intrinsically linked'.

Nick Ashby has a Master of Visual Arts (Research) Q.C.A. Griffith University, 2002 and a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Fine Art) Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, 1992
He is the recipient of a number of awards including: Joint winner Artworkers Award, 2009; Bundanon Residency, 2009; Redland Art Award, 2008; Highly commended Sunshine Coast Art Prize, 2006; Metro Arts Artist Award, 1996; AMP Youth Art Award, 1992; Winning Painting, Logan City Art Award, 1991. He is represented in the following collections: Artbank, Artworkers Alliance Collection, Brisbane Grammar School, Griffith University (QCA), Logan City Council Collection, Redlands Art Collection, School of Early Childhood, QUT.

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