ASHWAN(b.1971)

Originally from Liverpool, (UK) Ashwan graduated with an Honours Degree from The University Of Northumbria In Newcastle and A Masters Degree from The School Of The Art Institute of Chicago (USA), where he lived for 5 years..

Now living and working in Barcelona, Spain, Ashwan has been represented by Pearl Lam’s Contrasts gallery in China, 3Punts Galeria in Barcelona and currently Galerie Lesmeister in Germany. He is co-owner and director of  BienCuadrado in Barcelona.

Having previously worked as a hip hop dj and producer, music is ever present as the artist's muse and continues to resonate deeply through it. Ashwan's work is very physical with a strong sense of presence, often recycling used cardboard boxes and transforming them into large scale mixed media pieces.  His works fall into two main categories: Cut out letter pieces, which sit in relief of the wall and the more traditional format abstract paintings.

 

Originally the Lettering style was present on the abstract backgrounds of the paintings but organically the text element was asking to be placed directly in the urban environment. Ashwan has installed many of these on walls around Barcelona and documented their journey in this process. 

Of the cut out letter works, Ashwan likens the negative and positive spaces created by the works to a visual equivalent of the rat-a-tat, staccato sound of rap lyrics and often references them directly. Visually you get a sense of the acoustic patterns playing out before your eye.

More recently Ashwan has started to experiment with the backs of the works using reflected light to colour the shadows; An ephemeral effect that tricks the eye in to thinking the works are backlit. The colour has a way of drawing attention to the space between the work and the wall to emphasise the importance of the pattern created by the letters for the rhythm of the artwork.

LED lighting is sometimes used too and can bring an alternative dimension to a piece if so desired.

Although the format of his abstracts may be more traditional, the materials are very contemporary... from the now! Veering away from tradition, Ashwan again uses discarded cardboard boxes to build the grounds on which to work. These are then layered with sand and mixed media and finished with a high gloss resin.

Ashwan also thinks of these works as being related to sound, that they are visual equivalents to samples from an instrumental. Previously, a track by a favourite producer would be listened to over and over to try and capture the required feel, but more and more this is coming direct from the artists mind. 

The scale of these  abstract works can vary greatly, from as small as 16cm or so up to over 2 metres.

Having previously described his work as 'A Visual Tao of the Boom Bap Sound' it is apparent where his influences lie. Ashwan also considers the material metamorphosis from the discarded cardboard box into an artwork an important metaphor for (and homage to) the disenchanted and disenfranchised youth of 80´s New York City. A youth who had nothing yet forced the world to look at them and take notice, take inspiration.
Some of the smaller abstracts take on the feel of urban fossils. A part of a past culture captured in a jewel like state, a remnant from a graffiti´d tenement or a section of the broken Berlin Wall. They further emphasise how Ashwan´s work hovers between 2 and 3 dimensionality as they are as much artefact as abstract paintings.