Claire Ashley, Clown, 2012. Spray paint on plasticized canvas tarpaulin and fan, 120 x 96 x 72 in.

Claire Ashley


H. Paxton Moore Fine Art Gallery, El Centro College

Claire Ashley’s pneumatic objects are singular yet referential. Each giant, pillowy creature has a presence so unique it is easy to overlook the heterogeneous array of influences. Clown sports multi-colored horns and one leg that sits out lazily in front of its trunk. The center of its cutely bloated, pastel pink belly is marked by a dripping bull’s eye—reminiscent of both a Jasper Johns painting and an assassinated Michelin Man. In terms of the inflatable in art, this Scottish, Chicago-based artist cuts a trail marked by others before her: Warhol with Silver Clouds (1966) and Martin Creed who invited participant/viewers to squeeze their way through a gallery full of balloons in 2011. Both painterly and creaturely, Ashley’s floaties are avant-garde and kitsch, bastard children of a union between Jules Olitski’s colorful giants and Lynda Benglis’s drippy latex wall attachments. With a wheel of primary and secondary colors at its center, Oddball would seem nothing more than an exercise in color theory, but its bulbousness and location high on the wall just below the ceiling made it into something far more interesting: a smooth-sheathed space alien.…see the entire review in the print version of December’s Sculpture magazine.