19 JANUARY - 5 MARCH 2006
Conversation, David Ellis’s installation at Rice Gallery, is a booming, rocking mix of improvisational painting, sculpture and rhythm. Early in his career, beat and rhythm were unspoken components of Ellis’s work. As a painter his goal was to make the rhythm that he heard in his head visible to the viewer. His next step was to incorporate beat directly into his work. He explored this idea in a series of “drum paintings,” rhythmic installations that combine painting, sculpture, and beat. Conversation, his most ambitious drum painting to date, continues the evolution of his work, making beat not only audible, but also visible.
Conversation’s focus is the dialogue of two grouse, animalistic hybrids based on animals familiar to Ellis from his childhood. The grouses’ conversation adds to the installation’s sound, a driving and complex polyrhythmic composition produced by beaters pounding out beats on oil drums, paint cans, plastic buckets, and the grouse. A smoke-shaped cloud, in hues of fire-reds and cool greens, forms a grouse face on the oil drums, and then snakes around the gallery walls, finally pooling in the middle of the front glass. This tour de force painting picks up the beat and visually completes Ellis’s exuberant installation.
Bound, 2005, a video projection of a delivery truck he repainted every day for a week, and an example of a motion painting, is visible through peepholes in the left side-wall of the gallery.
Ellis is the founder of The Barnstormers, a collective of artists, designers and friends. Since 1999, the group has traveled annually to Ellis’s hometown of Cameron, North Carolina to paint large-scale, wild-style murals on a series of old barns, tractor-trailers, shacks, and farm equipment, a process that they document in time-lapse films. Ellis’ own public art projects can be found on buildings in New York and Osaka, Japan, and on the exteriors of Mojo Fine Art Movers trucks in Brooklyn, New York.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
David Ellis was born in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1971, and received his BFA from The Cooper Union, New York, in 1993. Recent solo exhibitions include Orchestrion (2005), Jessica Murray Projects, New York; Beat Box, a Painting is a Drum(2004), 222 Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Paint on Trucks in a World in Need of Love (2002), Tidal, Osaka, Japan. His work was included in Greater New York 2005 , P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York, and Barnstormers (2004), Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA), Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In 2004, Ellis was selected for the artists studio program at Smack Mellon Studios. David Ellis lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Interview with Meghan Hendley,
KUHF 88.7 FM
21 February 2006
Photos by Nash Baker © nashbaker.com