While his recourse to abstraction could easily be seen as a move into a more conservative position towards his art practice, a flight into interiority and “art for art’s sake,” Ashford understands abstraction as a site where feeling can become activated towards individual, interpersonal, and collective transformations. Inasmuch as Ashford’s abstract paintings form environments (they are often installed together upon gallery walls or within an enclosed structure, such as in Many Readers of One Event at Documenta 13 ), and include documentary images depicting political and social upheaval, they seek to wield color abstraction as a force coincident with social movement—affects, gestures, bodies.* For Many Readers of One Event, Ashford took a newspaper clipping of a tragic event as starting point and reenacted this event with the help of actors. Paintings and photographs are placed inside an architectural setting.
source: Art 21 blog: 5 Questions for Contemporary Practice with Doug Ashford, Aug 28, 2012