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Damian Elwes: Heart Land

Damian Elwes: Heart Land
Library Shelf Location 18.ELWE
Publication Date 2011
Description Central to the Modernist Tradition has been the artist’s concern for the art that has preceded him. One cannot think of Manet without bringing to mind the work of Velasquez; one does not think of early Picasso without thinking of Cezanne, the Impressionists, and the Symbolists; and one cannot fully digest Roy Lichtenstein without considering his reflections on Monet, Kirchner, Marc, Picasso and the Surrealists. Damian Elwes has taken this fundamental tenet of modernist practice even further. In focusing on the pictorial re-creation of different Modern painter’s studios, at specific, historically important moments, he has found the means to create a meaningful set of subjects for his own practice as a painter. While we, the viewer, are immediately intrigued and invited to partake of these historical moments, what actually sustains, even heightens our interest, is Damian Elwes’ ability to turn documentation and historical record into compelling pictorial visions requiring repeated viewing and constant deciphering. While we sense that the “scene” unfolding before us is digestible as one clearly defined entity, these works result from a laborious build up, with constant revision and reconsideration of each detail. What is especially interesting, even noteworthy, is that Elwes’ paintings are never the result of information contained in one photograph. Quite the contrary, Elwes spends weeks, even months researching the exact physical details of a scene he is concerned with. In so doing, he is constantly discovering new pieces of information—whether it be the precise layout of an artist’s easels, supplies, tables, chairs, etc.; or in many cases, the particular paintings the artist would have had in his studio at any given moment in time. Elwes’ concern for historical accuracy, and his subsequent investigative process enables his fully realized paintings to have a freshness and immediacy which none of the source material contains nor conveys. It is not, therefore, the fact that he has painted Picasso’s studio that makes Elwes’ work of interest. Rather, it is his ability to use the historical source material about Picasso to achieve some immediacy for his own concerns as a painter. In a way, turning to the practice of a previous artist, combined with intensive investigation and evaluation of that artist’s practice at a given moment in time, results in a great deal of artistic freedom for Elwes’ own process. With this freedom he is able to express, with a great deal of conviction, even passion, his love for the underlying elements of great painting including composition, color and light. Firmly rooted in these fundamental concerns, Elwes is able to tap into the expressive potential for painting. In the end, it is the expressive quality of these works that we feel drawn to.
Quantity 1
Pages 48
Author Sophie Hastings Leris
Format Paperback
Publisher Agent Morton
Related Artist Damian Elwes
Category Painting
Language English

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