Where Art Happened : From Klint to Party
Unit London presents Where Art Happened - From Klint to Party, Damian Elwes’ first solo exhibition with the gallery, and the next step in his examination of artists and their creative spaces.
Elwes is fascinated with the life-force of creativity: what drives it, what affects it, what captures it. His depiction of an artists’ studio becomes a psychological portrait. We often talk about the furnishings of the mind, but in painting artists’ studios, Elwes is depicting exactly that. He is mapping the mental and creative landscape of an artist.
Damian Elwes in his studio, 2020
Since these spaces are rendered with subtle nods to the style of the artist in question, the works shimmer and crackle with the presence of the studio’s absent inhabitant.
Much like Elwes himself, the works are anecdotal: they give the impression that the artist has just left the room but their energy is still present, the last comment they made or joke they told is still fizzing in the air. The viewer remains behind with Elwes who unfurls the space. Under this tutelage, the room quickly becomes a key for understanding the artist: a spray can on its side becomes a symbol of Keith Haring’s recalcitrance, while an uncluttered work space becomes totemic of Nicholas Party’s meticulous practice. All these constituent parts then come together to give a more encompassing image.
This personal and informal approach allows for a great amount of intimacy. Elwes’ life and work has led him to know many of his subjects. With this level of familiarity in mind, the paintings take on a comforting poignancy - like the fond memories of a past friend, Elwes’ paintings flit between joy and melancholy, resting on a very human desire to understand and appreciate one another.