20 BOOKS = 20 PAINTINGS
An exhibition of painting by Ashley Hanson
Ashley Hanson’s painterly responses to the novel blur the boundaries of fact and fiction, information and imagination, ‘map-truth’ and painting-truth. With the ambition of capturing the breadth and essence of the novel, his amalgams of the visual and written worlds are structured on place and packed with pulsating colour, subversions of scale, intrigue and spatial ambiguities, with an inventive interplay between narrative, image and location, urban geometrics and the formalities of painting.
His current project is the ’20 Books=20 Paintings’ series, sourced in crime-fiction from around the world. In the spirit of the genre, there are pointers to the identity of the source novels within each piece: in the disguised imagery, in the palette and titles. Referencing the physicality of books and the act of reading, the paintings are themselves made in a book-format, ie two canvases joined-together…books that don’t close.
From 2012-18, Ashley worked on his ‘City of Glass’ series, 63 paintings sourced in Paul Auster’s ‘City of Glass’, from his novel ‘The New York Trilogy’. The series has received widespread attention, with numerous selections and shortlistings for national competitions/open selections including the RA Summer Exhibition, Wells Art Contemporary, The Discerning Eye, the Ludlow Open, Lacey Contemporary and National Open Art. ‘City of Glass 1’ was joint prize-winner in the Canvas & Cream Art Prize, London.
The written word, whether as source material for his paintings or in his own written thoughts and analysis on his Blog, is now a fundamental focus of Ashley Hanson’s process. Words provoke images, which in turn can encourage a written response. Ashley’s Blogposts of ‘City of Glass’, have themselves become a physical book – a catalogue – which Ashley forwarded to author Paul Auster in New York. He was thrilled to receive the following response:
Dear Mr. Hanson,
Incredibly moved by your magnificent paintings. They are strong and
beautiful — and haunting. To think that my book could have inspired such
vivid colors. I am very happy.
All best thoughts to you,
Born in Blackpool in 1960, Ashley initially studied architecture before deciding to be a painter after seeing a Peter Lanyon retrospective at the Whitworth Art Gallery. He graduated from Canterbury College of Art (Fine Art BA, 1st Class) in 1983 before moving to London. Ashley showed with the London Group, and was awarded 2nd Prize in the Hunting Art Prizes. In 1993 he participated in a Triangle Artists Workshop in New York, hosted by Sir Anthony Caro. In 1997 he was a recipient of a Boise Travel Scholarship from the Slade, which resulted in his ‘Americascapes’ series inspired by a series of train journeys across the US. The series was shown at the Morley and Woodlands galleries in London and as a solo exhibition at the Michael West Gallery, IOW.
Now living in Cornwall, Ashley is a member of the Newlyn Society of Artists. In 2018 he took part in ‘Discovery: Contemporary Art Perspectives from England’ at the Agora Gallery, New York and last year had a solo exhibition ‘‘Cololourscapes’ at the Heseltine Gallery in Cornwall.
He has an extensive national exhibition record including Linden Hall Studio, Modern Artists Gallery, Belgrave St. Ives, the Campden Gallery, Edgar Modern, and Thomson’s Gallery, London.