The most interesting conversation I had in 2015: Asha Zero

asha zero untitled acrylic on board 100 x 120 cm 2015


You’ll never see his face and his name is real. His work is like nothing I’ve ever seen. Asha Zero’s paintings are a portal into the future.

I found you by accident. I was reading about hyperstition and stumbled upon Delphi Carstens’ ideas on the subject. Then I found his talks on your work. What is your relationship with his ideas and the art?

This accidental meeting seems to be the result of an interesting set of events, and it reveals a bit about the kind of relationships these ideas engage. There are self-organising principles at work here, strange attractors with links between overlapping definitions and notions in shifting networks of language and conceptual models. Art as a conceptual practice, easily plugs into these explorations simply because it organically links different fields and disciplines together. It taps into collective imagination, reaching into the past as well as projecting into the future and has a tendency to playfully engage with concepts. We are all involved in the engineering and reverse engineering of ideas. 

asha zero smedective and friends 100 x 120 cm 2011

You create these paintings, which pretend to be collages. What’s the joke on the viewer here? 

I think the joke is not just on the viewer, it goes both ways because the paintings are bit like anthropomorphic tricksters. There is a playful aspect in the absurdity of the project as opposed to nihilistic irony. 

asha zero TSOK acrylic on board 48 x 35 cm 2013

You began it all in the 90s. What got you started in this direction?

I studied art in the mid 1990s and my experience at art school shaped my appreciation of the convergence of the logic of modernism and that of popular culture. I enjoyed the raw enthusiastic approach to multiplicity, the dawn of the internet and a shifting world order. I started to experiment with multimedia drawings and that process led me to painting.

Would you consider your work a remix of sorts? It feels like a combination of emotion and effect, musical-like. Very yin and yang, the machine-made plastic and the crafted work art. How does this work?

Yes. However, I would say that it is a continual mix of sorts. This approach incorporates a wide range of sampled concepts, the tradition of painting as a mode of image making meets digital ways of sourcing images. It leads to an interesting mix of concepts, fine art and the conceptual weight of modernism becomes part of the code of fast paced flux of network culture. 

Your work feels brutal, like advertising, but it’s not. It has that same horrific quality (no offence) yet there is this subtle knowledge that the motivation and execution is pure creativity. Tell me how you feel about this interpretation. 

The paintings are a result of the mix of image styles that are sourced from platforms of advertising: magazines, the internet, billboards and so on. These mediated images then undergo a transformation by means of painting, the pixels and halftones are translated into pigment on board, and it affects the coding of the images. So in this engagement with advertising, tradition meets technology in the production of icons. The horrific quality may have something to do with the gaze, who or what views or is subject to observation.

I feel like your paintings play with meaning and familiar semiotics. They almost decide what they are. How do you think this is happening?

asha zero pluzz acrylic on board 80 cm 2012

The paintings play with meaning because the various techniques involved in the creation of the paintings combined with the referential network of the sourced images shape a reading of the work, which fuse opposing sensibilities. These paintings are hybrid memes and it may be because the work taps into the organising principles of viral language.

I genuinely feel like something is really happening when I see your work. I understand a synchronicity, a relationship between your work and the current culture we are a part of – it’s sizzling, crackling – do you feel that too? Do you think people are resonating with it more than say, five years ago?

asha zero ' shout engineerr ' acrylic on board 2008

I think people will find it easier to read or resonate with these paintings because of the way we communicate by means of images. The use of smart phones and social media where image recognition software, hash tags, links and image sharing creates a dense referential network of text and images which places us in a ever familiar crossover zone; a hybrid collage of the online and offline.  

I want to show you bessnyc4. What do you think of his work?

Would like to see him take on local billboards.

How are you going to execute or show people your next exhibition? Will there be a more tech/online way of communicating it do you think?

Not sure. I’ll have to Google it.

Like it? Share with your friends!