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Artsy Insight: Ashley Bickerton and Paul Gauguin

After a decade at the center of the New York art world and tired of what he called the “heat-seeking” city, moved to Bali, Indonesia, in 1993. This trajectory would lead to years of comparisons with painter , who similarly left France for Polynesia in the 1880s. Bickerton long objected to the parallels, saying, “I avoid that washed-up-on-the-shores and paint folklorica kind of fantasy. I can’t stand the idea of making art as wispy exotic and escapist kinds of things.” Recently, however, he has acknowledged the biographical similarities. “It actually took years and years before I faced the elephant in the room.” Finally, Bickerton explained, “there he was, Gauguin: expiring, syphilitic, his sarong falling off, surrounded by those young island girls. I decided to face him.”