An introduction by Miriam Nielsen
A gigantic weightless astronaut floats above the city in the centre of Berlin. The astronaut is an impressive figure, faceless and oversized, which cannot be overlooked. The work is a classic mural but painted in the style of a huge black stencil, black paint still running and dripping down the wall. It is one of those images black on white which in a simple and effective manner imprints itself in the mind of a passer-by. After one has passed by the astronaut he still lingers on the retina for a while. In this sense Ash’s works are immediate but will stay with you for a while to make you think, to annoy you, or to make you reflect.
Ash works mostly in the street and the works are ”in your face” and visible to everyone, also to those who have not actively sought them out. He says; “It’s very exciting for me as an artist to work in this way. When you’re placing a present like that in a public space, it creates an interaction with people you’d never talk to otherwise. It’s something you give to the people and making paintings outside like this, is a gift to the public.” In this sense his art is democratic and unavoidable and manifests itself in the form of public statements completely in line with the spirit of street art.
In Ash’s words, his works are always a direct reflection of what takes place in society here and now. Ash doesn’t give answers or solutions to the dilemmas, which are described in the works, rather he points at certain things in society and questions the present state of things. The works often deal with the contrast between the urban and the rural as well as with those anecdotes, which rise from this dichotomy.
His latest murals in a building called VM-bjerget (VM-mountain) in Ørestaden (a new suburb of Copenhagen) can be interpreted as a direct commentary on the development of the city and increasing urbanisation. Here he has placed a goat, a wolf and a deer painted directly on the raw tarmac. These animals stand on top of mountains made up of old smashed up car wrecks. In these apocalyptic works the mountain consists of decay and nature has moved in and taken over in triumph. In the real world things are quite different. Here its often humans who, according to Ash, take from nature and expand themselves into nature in a thoughtless manner and without giving anything in return.
Here we sense Ash’s past as one of the pioneers on the European graffiti scene. When he was 13 years old he was fascinated by the play with identities and the energy, which defines graffiti. Even if his technique reveals his past as a writer, the intention behind his work is something completely different now. He says that graffiti is often about repeating oneself, but these days he is more concerned with developing as an artist. With his raw stencil style and his use of figures that look like silhouettes, which he adapts to different surfaces such as walls, paper and glass, Ash has developed a new signature within which he constantly renews himself.