The homie Ashwan had a solo exhibition in Barcelona at the tail end of last year. Sample culture was Ashwan’s homage to just that, the sample culture of hip hop! Or boom bap as he likes to call it, old skool head that he is.
Whatever term is preferred often depends upon your perspective, but these are all common claims or accusations in todays artistic culture. This “sampling” may appear more prevalent today, however it is far from a new phenomenon. Memetic referencing, credited or uncredited, is a fundamental part of the creative process.
Ashwan has always used music as a source of inspiration and this is seen at the forefront of Sample Culture. In this exhibition, his second at BienCuadrado, a mix of pieces are shown from large relief cut-outs, akin to those he has installed across Barcelona over the last number of years alongside smaller abstract resin works.
In Ashwan’s large cut-out pieces, lyrics and phrases from songs are taken and spatially re-contextualised, creating a new mental rhythm as the song is recalled. It is this acoustic rat-a-tat-tat that is visually mimicked as the familiar phrase is placed in an unfamiliar context. Moreover, this playful interaction of positive and negative spaces in the pieces creates a dance for the eye.
The boldness of the textual cut-outs makes clear reference to the graffiti that covers our cities walls, and doors while the patterns of light and colour transmit a feeling of warmth and love for the act of tagging itself. Ashwan masterfully plays with light, colour, and reflection playing tricks on the eye that makes it difficult to get a sense of what is seen.
The front space of the gallery is dominated by a Ferris wheel of a piece entitled ´Not a Test´ which, at times seems as vibrant as an Okuda San Miguel work yet simultaneously as monochrome as Malevich´s white on white, while the resin works bring to mind sections of a brought down Berlin wall, encased in resin as if fossils of our recent past.