Originally from Liverpool, U.K. Ashwan completed a Masters in Fine Arts at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where his tutors included the Pulitzer prize winner Jerry Saltz and alumni such as Jeff Koons, Georgia O´Keefe and Claes Oldenburg.
The decision to move to the U.S. was as much a pilgrimage as an opportunity to study at one of the world´s finest art institutions. Describing his work as A visual Tao of the Boom Bap sound, it is apparent where the artist´s influences lie.
Ashwan creates objects: physical, solid with a strong sense of presence. He often uses discarded cardboard boxes and transforms them in to large scale mixed media pieces, ultimately encased in resin. The resulting metamorphosis creates a simultaneous sense of post-industrial urban degeneration and a jewel like tribute to the rebel subcultures that added colour to these environments.
The desire to be heard and to make a mark on a society that it seems is no longer listening, Ashwan’s art harks back to a period where the urban breakdown resulted in an explosion of colour amid growing social divides. Bastard remnants of a Reaganomic era, scribed through our cities against the will of many,only now to be commodified and celebrated by the cultural elite. In the works of Ashwan, the urban environment itself is equally enjoyed, with rusted surfaces, oxidised copper and a crumbling sense of physicality and passing time.
Hovering between 2 and 3 dimensionality, the works conjure images of a broken Berlin Wall or a section of 1970’s Bronx left untouched for decades. Planes are fractured, replicating an urban dynamic and texts used in a repetitive, rhythmic way that is not always easily decipherable, but instead communicates the essential energy of a message.
To Ashwan, his art somehow encompasses and represents sound, be it a snapshot of music or an ambient noise. The texts often quote or paraphrase lyrics. He attempts to capture and highlight that trait of humanity that hungers to source beauty from degeneration and thirsts to create explosions of creativity from areas that have been so abandoned and abused as to appear cultural desserts.
The artist is referencing, remixing and celebrating a bygone era with sincerity and nostalgia…join him, as he takes it back.