London-based Phil Ashcroft, born 1970, studied illustration at Harrow College and St Martins between 1989-94. His thesis looked at the influence of American Abstract Expressionists on British painters such as Patrick Heron, John Hoyland, Alan Gouk and Albert Irvin. Since 2001, when he was featured in the book Scrawl Too: More Dirt, Ashcroft was invited to become a member of the Scrawl Collective, a UK-based agency of loosely affiliated artists led by Ric Blackshaw.
Now as a solo artist, and occasionally with the collective, Ashcroft exhibits his paintings, works on graphic projects, and collaborates on live-painting projects in galleries and alternative spaces from street locations to shops.
Also known as ‘PhlAsh’, his first reference to a yeti was a painting from 1998, which referenced the wampa inThe Empire Strikes Back. The ‘yeti’ character developed to became their most popular selling print and tee, and a key element within their branding.
Ashcroft is a painter, graphic artist, and muralist with a penchant for geometric expressionism, science fiction and large-scale public works. Whether it is an illustration or painting, his style is minimal yet expressionistic, utilising a telegraphic visual vocabulary to communicate feeling and pictorial meaning.
A derelict hospital, oil depots, nuclear power stations, the abominable snowman; collectively these semi-surreal settings and cartoon-like motifs appear as mysterious manifestations, phenomena both real and imagined.
His work considers our present-day visions, a climate ever more pertaining to aspiration and speculation within our modern sense of reality. From apocalyptic expectations in our present environmental, financial and political climate, this ‘threat’ of proximity signifies the potential collision that reflects our changing ideology of past modernity, concerns and images.
His influences include, he says “many favourite artists, not all are direct influences but they are inspiring and I always look out for their new work. Basil Beattie, Joe Bradley, Stuart Cumberland, Dexter Dalwood, Luke Gottelier, Leo Fitzmaurice, Lothar Götz, James ‘Dalek’ Marshall. Historically there are US painters such as Richard Diebenkorn, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell. Then there’s Jack Kirby, Victor Pasmore, Pierre Soulages, Christopher Wool, always Matisse and Picasso. Other key source’s of inspiration are Bladerunner, Godzilla, Total Recall, Miami Vice TV series, early Dr Who (Tom Baker-era) and Tony Hancock’s film The Rebel.”
2011: Intervention Intervention, Fishmarket Gallery, Northampton. 2010: No Soul for Sale, Tate Modern, London. 2009: Wonder Island, Schwartz Gallery, London; The Free Art Fair, Barbican, London. 2008: Cans 2 Festival, London; Scope Basel, with Monika Bobinska, London; Out of the Box, New Art Gallery, Walsall; The Golden Record, Collective Gallery, Edinburgh; Heart of Glass, Concrete and Glass, London; Special Relationship, Scion Space, Los Angeles. 2007: Celeste Art Prize Finalist. 2006: Toxicity, Margaret Harvey Gallery, UH Galleries, St Albans. 2005: Yeti In Hong Kong, EXIT, Hong Kong. 2004: All The People We Like Are Dead, London. 2002: Graffiti Meets Windows 1, Hank-Yu Department Store, Osaka. 2001: Nitro Deluxe, Deptford X, London. Chosen for Contemporary Art Society's ARTfutures in 2007, 2005 and 2004. Works are also held in public and private collections worldwide. Corporate commissions include projects for Amnesty International (UK), British Film Institute, Levis, Nike Town, Royal Mail, Sony PSP and Yahoo (UK).
Sources: Information and texts compiled from Phil Ashcroft’s artist statement on his website, a 2007 interview by Marc Valli of Magma, and a 2009 interview by Trippe for Fecal Face.