World

Ashley Bickerton, Unflinchingly Honest About His Work and Illness


Conversations with Ashley often turn out to be humorous. “I need to be gentle. If you asked me about my political views, I wouldn’t say Democrat, I would say George Carlin.” When his caregiver feeds him chips, he grins and says, “New colonial lifestyle.” His speech was punctuated by clicks of tongues and hums. He carefully chose his words. Although he is confined to a wheelchair, he exudes a cheerful and soaring joy. His grin, his wry smile has a way of pampering you.

“I don’t have Why me? or Oh, the injustice of it all, that never even crossed my mind,” he told me. “There’s a strange, detached kind of pleasure in watching all of this happen to me, like, Oh, that’s exciting. And then there was the need to constantly improvise and deal with new setbacks in my physical condition.” He smiled and frowned. You just have to keep adapting to the new indignation.

He continued: “I have completely lost my legs. My hand will soon be gone. My voice and ability to eat will decrease, which is the natural course of the disease. But I’m happy in the moment. I am much more optimistic about all I expect at this stage.

He knew that his work for the Gagosian show would be his last. He designed the paintings down to the last detail, leaving the manual work to his assistants.

On the last afternoon I was with Ashley, we walked down to the set, he was in a wheelchair, his three-year-old daughter Io, ridiculously cute in a pink ruffled dress, chasing the other side. after. In the studio, Ashley reviews one of the paintings from his new “Blur” series. It depicts a muted, distantly shaped face, with a pair of bright blue round eyes. “We are getting very close,” he told his assistant. “But do it right. These paintings are forever.”

Io was gliding around the set on her Razor-style scooter, giggling. She pulled up beside her father. Studying the picture together, Ashley said, “Tell us what we need to do, girl. We do not know. We are just adults.”

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