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  • Provenance

    Sonnabend Gallery, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    “Morality – right and wrong, good and bad – is only something that we have invented in order to orchestrate our society. It’s not that the world is this or that; it’s not that I want to defne what is dark and what isn’t. I simply think we must acknowledge that it all exists and get of it.” Ashley Bickerton

    In Ashley Bickerton’s Bismarck Achipelago Shark, we see the eponymous hammer-head stung from a hook. Deflated of blood and hanging limply like an empty sack, it is a gruesome and poignant sight.

    Based in Bali, where he has lived for the last nineteen years, Ashley Bickerton was born in the West Indies in and studied at the California Institute of the Art and the Whitney Museum Independent Studies Program in New York. He became a leading figure in 1980s Art Geo-Movement, a movement which rejected the expressionist tendencies of art current at the time and which, which included the artists Jeff Koons, Peter Halley and Meyer Vaisman amongst its members.

    Drawing from popular culture, adapting widely recognizable symbols and icons Bickerton’s art seeks to criticize consumerist culture and the pernicious effects he sees it as playing upon the ecological and spiritual. In his famed series of figurative paintings, produced in the late 1990s, which displayed grotesque subjects, deformed by use of drugs, surgery and cosmetics Bickerton concentrated upon the effects of greed and vanity upon the body. In Bismarck Archipelago Shark, the same biting criticism, of consumerism upon nature, as present in the artist’s caricatures, is prominently on display. Many from Théodore Géricault, in The Raft of Medusa to Damien Hirst in The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, have examined the shark in art, focusing on the powerful and deadly nature of the creature. In contrast, Bickerton provokingly presents us with a flaccid, deflated carcass – a sad and pathetic image of a once powerful creature.


Bismarck Archipelago Shark

rubber, leather, rope, coconuts, resin, PVC, acrylic, liquid, metal
(height variable) 401 x 78 x 100 cm. (157 7/8 x 30 3/4 x 39 3/8 in.)

£30,000 - 50,000 

Sold for £104,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
[email protected]
+44 207 318 4063

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Evening Sale 10 February 2014 7pm