Soundings: Season 4 Episode 4

Ashley Bickerton

On his art career, resisting the Gauguin fantasy, despoiled paradise, his manifesto, misanthropy, his ALS diagnosis, and finding beauty in the everyday.

Light / Dark

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Born in Barbados and raised between Hawaii and California, the late Ashley Bickerton was a surfer, thinker, and artist whose mixed-media practice explored themes of identity and meaning, often critiquing consumerism, modernity, and social communication. He achieved early success in New York in the 1980s, alongside the likes of Jeff Koons and Peter Halley. In 1993, Bickerton abandoned the New York scene and moved to Bali, where exercised a devotion to left-hand barrels. There, he also found new expression for his work through an increasingly characteristic use of bright colors. In the wake of what would come to be a fatal ALS diagnosis, Bickerton, who passed away in November 2022, spoke with Jamie Brisick about love, his recent New York exhibitions, the value of resolution, the evolution of the art world’s relationship to surfing, his art-making philosophy, and his biggest inspirations.

Produced by Jonathan Shifflett.
Music by Farmer Dave & the Wizards of the West.

Feature image by Jason Childs.