Santa Monica-based, British artist Damian Elwes has been recreating the studios of other artists since he began painting. His work transports us into the world's of artistic geniuses and captures the sublimity of creative experience.
Damian Elwes began his artistic career as a graffiti artist in the 1980s, before being convinced to turn to painting by the renowned street and pop artist Keith Haring. In 1984, Elwes’s first painted works were displayed alongside those of Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. He became drawn to representations of artists’s studios, moving to Paris in the late 1980s where he sought out studios for artistic material. Elwes’s career took a turn when he moved to the edge of the Columbian rainforest and began representing expansive images of the surrounding nature. Following the advent of the internet, Elwes was then able to access imagery of the studios of famed artists, such as Picasso and Matisse. Now, his works serve as visual documents of these creative spaces that have been lost to history. In 2019, Elwes’s studio paintings were displayed alongside works by Eugène Delacroix in order to showcase and explore the artistic process.
Elwes’s early experiences of painting contemporary artists’s studios in Paris led him to understand the figure of the artist through his or her belongings and the specific placement of these belongings. For Elwes, the artist’s studio and its contents were emblematic of the essence of an artistic personality. When Elwes was later able to gain online access to imagery of the studios of iconic 20th-century artists, he viewed these images as puzzle pieces and began to bring them together to create complete representations of these creative spaces. Many of these spaces no longer exist today, after being taken over by new owners. Elwes’s paintings have therefore taken on a commemorative dimension; they are detailed tangible records that transport the viewer into the inner sanctum of the creative mind.
In the studio with Damian Elwes, 2019
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Elwes began his career in the 1980s as a graffiti artist in New York City. He was later convinced to turn to painting by the renowned street and pop artist, Keith Haring. Elwes works were singled out by famed London gallerist, Robert Fraser, and were included in an 1984 exhibition at the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh alongside pieces by Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Elwes eventually became drawn to representations of the artist’s studio. He subsequently moved to Paris between the years of 1986-87 where he began seeking out studios for artistic material. In 2018, his solo exhibition at the Musée en Herbe in Paris attracted over 100,000 visitors. In 2019, Elwes paintings were exhibited alongside works by Eugène Delacroix at the Musée Delacroix in Paris. The exhibition sought to reveal and explore the artistic process through representations of artists’s studios.