We came across Ashley Loxton's paintings at a gallery exhibition in Margate. The sea was lashing in with the rain, doing nothing for the Kent coastal town's resurgence, the sky was the colour of scaffold poles, but inside the Cliftonville gallery we found a huge pile of orange and red chicken boxes and an array of people stood round staring at it.
On the wall were great splashes of colour which turned out to be oil paint waving across magazine pages. The combination of the glossy magazine and book travel pages with the painted backgrounds were quite unique and we not only bought a few but decided we should ask Ashley a few questions about him and his work for Sabotage Times. The paintings are great, you should track him down and get one before the big galleries move in.
How long have you been working, where did you start, study, where are you from, how old are you?
I’m 32 years old, and I have been producing artwork for as long as I can remember; I don’t know the point that I finally called myself an artist. I graduated from London College of Communication in 2007, and had years of partying and excess that almost took me out of the art game. The last 5 years have been the most productive, and the most important in terms of the development of my practice.
I lived in Pakistan for a few years, from the age of about 3 or 4, where I went to an international school. I’ve got vivid memories- there were American imports, and British embassy clubs filled with ex-pats. It definitely had a profound effect on me. My Dad was always taking photos whenever we traveled around. This might have influenced my recent work, subconsciously, in the sense that I’ve been obsessed with foreign landscapes.
I was brought up in Deal, on the Kent coast. Most of my experiences around that time revolved around arcades, outdated cafes, and suburbia. Pretty standard British seaside town; certain areas were well-kept and picturesque, some were run down. I still visit once in a blue moon.
What are you doing with the paintings?
I’ve spent the last year developing a technique and a visual language that so far I’m satisfied with. For the most part it’s been very organic, and I’ve tried to make it accessible enough to keep reproducing. There is no specific show on the horizon, which has allowed me to push the work in my own direction without thinking of the expectations of the viewer.
There’s definitely been a focus on making visually stimulating works, which I have no qualms with; it’s been like following my gut and buying into what I think is attractive. I have been experimenting with scale, and surface, merging digital photography from online sources, with my own method of painting. I’m taking existing cliché imagery and reconfiguring it to make it my own. Essentially, when I start to make artworks that give me a buzz when I look at them, the tendency is to go as big as possible, so I’m looking into new possibilities.
What are you inspired by?
Recently I’ve been getting drawn to billboards and posters, especially in portrait orientation. It has something to do with the format and the saturation of the print, rather than the content.
I get nostalgic about the interests I used to have. I’ve been obtaining old Jungle rave flyers like Hysteria and Pure-X, and a lot of the labels and sports clothes I used to wear are creeping back in. I get exited about airbrush art, especially from the 80s and 90s.
In my last show I brought in a load of different chicken boxes that I collected over a few months. That all started when I took a photo of a box in the street, then before I knew it I was forcing myself to go in and ask chicken shop owners to give me them for free. My eyes still light up a bit when I walk past the odd Chicken Cottage, even though I can’t stand the food.
Which artists do you like?
Richard Prince has always been a huge influence, as well as Dan Colen, and Ed Ruscha. I’m mainly a painter, but I get a lot from artists like Paul McCarthy, and Mike Kelley. Lizzy Fitch and Ryan Trecartin at the Zublodowicz Collection blew me away. Mark Leckey’s videos are amazing.
I like the airbrush work in Barry Reigate’s paintings, and a lot of new artists like Emily Mae Smith and Avery Singer.
How and where do you work?
I fluctuate between my flat in Walthamstow, and my studio in Woolwich. Over time I’ve been able to create a bridge between the two. The work has been moving in a beatnik motion at the moment. I collect books from charity shops, tear out pages and work on them at home, and its pretty much trial and error. The smaller works are done late at night and the studio stuff is made in the day when I’ve got more vitality. I then search to find similar images on websites at high resolutions. These are blown up, stretched wet onto my studio floor, and I follow a similar painting technique as the smaller works. Both end products are visually quite different, but they are always unique, one-away productions- can’t be duplicated twice. While this is going on I’ll be taking photos as I go, collecting various posters and objects, and scrolling images on Google. It’s all part of a never-ending process.
What previous work have you done?
In previous years I have completed commissions and exhibited for Hamish Jenkinson, creative director of The Department London and the former assistant to Kevin Spacey. I have also showed work in ‘Inside Playful Minds’, a collaborative project with Physical Pixels, and ‘Places, Faces and Things’ at Plinth Space, Margate last June, along with artists Gregory Williams, Simon Foxall and Shaun Stamp.