Asha Zero is an artistic avatar crafted beyond the confines of gender, age and race so that the artworks can speak for themselves uninhibited. Executed in acrylics, careful brushstrokes imitate the ripped edges of a page while flicks of paint carve the tears. It would be easy to mistake these paintings for carefully constructed collages. This kind of optical illusion uses the technique of trompe-l’oeil (‘trick of the eye’), a new world painting genre and extreme form of realism that allows the artwork to bend the fine line demarcating reality.
A marriage of Abstraction and Realism, Asha’s paintings appear discordant at first. Yet the longer they are gazed upon, the more the pieces pull together to form a coherent whole. Meaning is assembled from fragments – a mirror to the way in which identity is constructed in the modern era.
What happens in our current society, especially with the social networking phenomenon, is that you have this virtual identity,
explains Asha. “It’s put together with bits and pieces which form something coherent. Although it was put together through a complete jumble, it’s this ‘something’ that people see on your profile.”
While many critics have praised Asha’s work as a deconstruction of identity, seeing its fragmentary nature as representative of a self fractured by information overload, there is also an element of sublime celebration in the paintings. They are Dada-esque, not in the sense that they rebel against popular modern modes of creative expression, but in the nonsensical and intuitive aspect of the term. The pieces laud the atomised way in which identity is formed as a necessary, rather than a negative process. As Asha says, “The statement, though it’s not linked to me, is that we’re really only pieces.”
Combining skill with enjoyment, Asha creates a mode of painting that dissolves the boundary between fine art and the everyman’s creative expression. Utilising a highly accessible medium like collage as his starting point, the works are seemingly within anyone’s creative capabilities. After all, we live in an age where just about anyone can call themselves an artist at the click of a mouse. Yet the level of skill required to translate paper to paint is tremendous. Thus, uniquely positioned, the paintings oscillate between the practicable and the removed. The process of translation crafts onion layers of overlapping meaning and empowers the works, imbuing them with deeper levels of meaning. As Asha describes it, “A mass produced media image gets translated into a painting with some sort of romantic sentiment…
Paint in its physicality has an emotional connection.
Asha’s works reignite a childlike excitement. The eye is continuously drawn across the canvas, darting from one segment of creative shrapnel to the next until a glimmer of meaning starts to coalesce. Then all of a sudden it disappears amidst the visual cacophony, and we are forced to re-evaluate the intricately structured composition. Like an alleyway wall coated with a decade’s worth of glued and torn poster advertisements, the beautiful decay seems to add up to some elusive composite history; A story in pieces, that evolves every time we pass it.
Read the rest of issue 15
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