The Art Of Horsepower -Ashley Collins




The Art Of Horsepower

Ashley Collins

From Homeless Living on Abandoned Boats to the Top of the Art World

Artist in Studio with [Namakura Gatana] “The Blunt Sword” 84” x 96”, mixed media, oil and acrylic on historical pages, panel, hand-fired resin.  Private Collection.

If you put Robert Redford, Christy Walton, Lady Gaga, Doc Rivers, Tony Robbins, members of Putin’s Politburo, Stan Kroenke, a reclusive Argentine billionaire, and others in a room, you might wonder what they have in common. Think contemporary art. Then think of a 35-year journey from homelessness to the top echelons of the art world, and you have the massively scaled paintings of Ashley Collins.

Collins is aiming for something beyond notoriety.

“We are in an era where the hardships that are necessary for success in both life and love are not appreciated –the “I deserve this” as opposed to the “I earned this.” We know this is unsustainable as it is only through overcoming difficulties that we are then able to feel the pure joy of achievement.”

Collins speaks from experience – during her years of homelessness, when she lived out of cars, abandoned boats, or the couches of kind strangers, her work reflects the beauty of those dark times.  For example, the work “Abra” 1995,  part of her Circus Pony series of works, is filled with darkness… yet even within this darkness, there is hope provided by open hands…

Ashley Collins “Abra” 1995, 72” x 60” mixed media, oil and acrylic, historic pages encaustic. Private Collection

“At the time I painted the Circus Pony Series of works, I was living on an abandoned boat – a 1995 Higgins with no motor… which I had to bail out each morning and night … and then I would sneak into the harbor bathrooms to shower in the middle of the night – those were not easy times… no gallery wanted a female artist.. everyone was looking for the next Warhol or Eddie Ruscha.”

Now, the galleries are the ones being told no.

“I recently finished a painting called “Sandapanchi” [Japanese for “Thunder Punch”]  Which for me is the beautiful moment you have the power to say “No” in life – that is the most powerful ability one can achieve… a simple “No.”

Thunderpunch is part of Collins’s new series of works called Tenshi-Tachi [Japanese for Warrior Angels], where she integrates the power of Japanese Anime and the imagery of the horse.

While that might seem a strange combination, it reflects Collins’s own journey, having worked on and off in Tokyo for the last 20 years with 4th generation printmaker Izumi Kato [the only printer allowed to make Archival prints in all of Japan].

“My paintings have always been about history…. I paint for generations to come.  Just as those that went before us created the echoes which opened windows of opportunity for our lives, our own actions echo to the future generations…. “

“In Japan, history and ancestry are core to way of living life… something we can benefit from here.  How is Anime history?  Well, think of the very first Anime film, only recently re-discovered in a thrift store in Kyoto in 2008. This film “The Blunt Sword” was created in 1917. How profound that someone in 1917 would have the courage to spend hours and years on new technology, a new way of looking at the world…. And that one single person’s effect more than one hundred years later… on the entire world.  That is worth celebrating”

Sandapanchi [Thunder Punch] 84” x 96” mixed media, oil and acrylic metal, historic pages, hand-fired resin finish.  Private Collection.

Collins has only released six of this new series, and each sold instantly.

So does Collins paint horses?

While the horse is a through-line of her work, The answer is no.

“When you look at historical paintings involving the horses, there is something missing….. something painfully two dimensional.  In an effort to be accurate, artists somehow create something hollow – the eye can see it, but the heart cannot feel it,” Collins says.

Collins paints not the physical horse but rather the soul. Collins horse imagery is a metaphor for our own journey… and her underlying collages are layered with thousands of book pages, layer upon layer of our own history, pages from the 1800s which have been touched by hundreds if not thousands of hands in the journey to Collins’s canvas.

We could spend hours learning more of Collins’s amazing way of seeing life, or better yet, we could join that magical room of collectors that somehow know the art of Horsepower. Fittingly, Par Excellence has exclusivity on the sale of Collins’s paintings, being the hub of pure finesse that we are. We are proud to be the route to such magical artistry.

For more insights on Ashley Collins’ art, and for the exclusive discount we got available for our clients and readers, be sure to contact us.

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