Monday, June 24, 2013

Works done with a wealth of wit and virtuoso detail

Ellen Gallagher, considered one of the most widely acclaimed contemporary artists from North America in the last two decades, has been creating highly imaginative and gorgeously intricate works since mid-1990s.They are realized with a wealth of wit and virtuoso detail. A new solo of her works at Tate Modern is her first ever major exhibit in the UK, offering a great opportunity to get a detailed overview of her illustrious twenty-year career.

Born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1965, Ellen Gallagher now lives and works in Rotterdam and New York. Her impressive body of work is held in several significant public collections like Centre Pompidou, Paris, MoMA and Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Her mysterious and vivacious vision of marine life extends well beyond the canvas, stretching to other media like ‘Murmur 2003–4’, a 16mm film installation  (done in collaboration with Edgar Cleijne) apart from the ongoing series of watercolors and cut paper works (Watery Ecstatic). Both her new and recent work on view at Tate Modern incorporate a series of two-sided drawings (Morphia) that show how she combines the intimate with the epic, the ethereal with the physical, history with the present, and the urban with the oceanic.

Ellen Gallagher collates imagery from myth, nature, social history and art in her complex works done in a wide variety of media such as painting, drawing, sculpture, film, animation, relief, collage and print,. The exhibit explores the themes that have emerged in her practice, from her early canvases through to more recent film installations.”

A press release elaborates: “In Double Natural, POMP-BANG, and eXelento, she has appropriated and incorporated found advertisements for hair and beauty products from the 1930s to the late 1970s from publications like Ebony, Our World, Black Stars etc. These ads fostered ideals in black beauty through wigs and hair adornments that Gallagher has re-contextualised, collaging the Afro wig elements and embellishing them with plasticine. The exhibit includes some other such key works including ‘Bird in Hand’ in which marine life and human life converge right at the bottom of the ocean in a rather mythical black Atlantis.

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