The paintings included in “Skipping Stones” examine the space between representation and abstraction. A multitude of sources inform this work including cartoons and everyday objects (Miss Piggy, Ninja Turtles, Pac Man) while also referencing the history of painting (Miro, Magritte, Matisse). Bartlett also uses found cartoon masks and costume fabric cut-offs as inspiration since she is interested in ideas concerning disguise, costume and exaggeration.
Ashleigh states “I start by quoting the basic structure of the image and translate it through the conventions of abstract painting. The result is a painting disguised from its source; it takes on a costume, a masked identity, and is no longer tied to the image of the character. It becomes an overstated abstraction.”
The paintings are material investigations with paint. Where the paint is overly gushy and dripping, it alludes to the nature of ‘cartoon’, where shapes are both exaggerated and simplified. She sculpts the paint by manipulating its structure, thickness and viscosity. What appears to be slick or glossy is a reference to artificiality and plasticity. The synthetic colours, cartoon references and exaggerated materiality is the objective in order to bring together humour and representation.
Ashleigh Bartlett received her BFA from the Alberta College of Art and Design and in 2011 her MFA from the University of Guelph. Her paintings have been included in the exhibitions “Sincerely Yours”, Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts (curated by John Kissick), “Black and White”, Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery (curated by Robert Enright) and “Voices of Fire”, Galerie SAS, Montreal (curated by Benjamin Klein). She currently teaches painting at the Alberta College of Art and Design, Calgary.