Ashley Hanson is an award-winning abstract painter inspired by the city and the sea. Mixing exotic colours with expressive compositions, Ashley tackles the tightrope between freedom and control and the space between abstraction and figuration. Finding balance through shape and colour is the essence of his practice.
Born in Blackpool, Ashley initially studied architecture at Manchester University before deciding to be a painter after seeing a Peter Lanyon retrospective at the Whitworth Art Gallery. He trained at Canterbury College of Art (BA Fine Art, 1st Class) before moving to London. Ashley showed with the London Group and was awarded 2nd Prize in the Hunting Art Prizes. He participated in a Triangle Artists Workshop in New York, hosted by Sir Anthony Caro and was a recipient of a Boise Travel Scholarship from the Slade. This resulted in his ‘Americascapes’ series, inspired by a series of train journeys across the US which was shown at the Morley and Woodlands galleries in London and as a solo exhibition at the West Gallery, Quay Arts, IOW.
In November 2011, Ashley began his ‘City of Glass’ series, sourced in the first story in Paul Auster’s ‘The New York Trilogy’, finally finding a way in to ‘the impossibility of painting New York’. Created over seven years, the 64 ‘City of Glass’ paintings form a series of scale, innovation and ambition, that deconstructs Paul Auster’s strange tale of obsession and reflects his manipulations of truth, identity and chance. Since its inception the series has received widespread attention, with ‘City of Glass 1’ joint prize-winner in the Canvas & Cream Art Prize, London and 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. His latest series is ’20 Books=20 Paintings’, where in a shift from ‘City of Glass’, there is the challenge of a single painting per book, sourced in 20 crime-novels from around the world.
Now living in Cornwall and member of the Newlyn Society of Artists, he has an extensive national exhibition record including Linden Hall Studio, Modern Artists Gallery, Belgrave St. Ives, the Campden Gallery, Edgar Modern, Bath. Ashley’s methodology is to work in series, allowing all possibilities to be explored. In parallel with working from the novel, there is an ongoing response to the Cornish coastal landscape, including his ‘Porthleven’ series, the fIfty-six paintings to date testimony to the invention and surprise and that can come from working with familiar motifs. To support his practice, Ashley runs several courses a year in Cornwall, Aylesbury and Faversham, under the banner ‘Freedom in Painting’.
‘As an artist I crave/need surprise, not sameness: it is what you ‘do’ with the source material that matters, a piece must be its own thing and have a joyous independence. Journeys, places, books, music, all generate ideas, providing catalyst and context, and colour always excites, but until it is resolved, a painting is a live thing, full of possibilities.’