Gordon Ellis-Brown

Gordon Ellis-Brown’s practice oscillates between social and environmental concerns ranging from ancient history to pop-culture, sustainability to space science; interests he credits to growing up in a seaside hotel in the 1970s, as well as childhood memories of American Westerns, the Apollo space missions and the unworldliness of television tropes broadcasting alien visitations.
Working with a range of media including paint, found imagery, raw and metallic pigments, photographic collage and resin, Ellis-Brown composes rigorously constructed compositions which recall the aesthetic of advertising or product design.
Inspired by the creativity and spirituality of pre-modern cultures, Ellis-Brown explores humanity’s connection to the natural world, revealing hidden connections between conflicting cultural traditions and belief systems. Often working in diptych format, he creates a dynamic conversation between these seemingly opposed positions as well as between notions of perfection and imperfection; for example the use of pure painted colour and the idiosyncrasies of early printing processes.

Ellis-Brown draws on his graphic design roots, using iconic imagery, immersive colour and ancient symbolism. Focusing on each image before relocating its context is a way of celebrating the enduring materiality of images whilst safeguarding the vulnerability of others. This dissonance subverts, disrupts and enriches our recognition of the visual world.

He has exhibited widely in the UK and abroad, with his work having been shown regularly at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.  In October 2019, Gordon was selected along with eleven artists from the globe to show at Malamegi lab 13 in the Piazza di Pietra Gallery in Rome.  Gordon Represented the Uk and the work was featured, ‘Untitled XV’ (Space, Final Frontier) and ‘Houston We Have a Problem’ won their 2019 Catalogue Prize.

Gordon’s work is held in collections throughout the world and he is also a member of the Newlyn Society of Artists.

SOUL SHAKER:

“This is my heart as I travel all over; my spirit, my life and living.”

Flathead Indian Chief, Montana

Whilst living in the United States in the 1980s, during which time he visited The Navajo and Tohono O’odham Nations of Arizona as well as the lands of the Indigenous Tribes of California and New Mexico, Gordon Ellis-Brown became interested in the misrepresentation of Native American peoples in US pop-culture, particularly the damaging stereotypes disseminated by cinematic genres like the Western.

Ellis-Brown’s Soul Shaker series responds to these preconceived notions of the historical American West, incorporating symbolism drawn from forms found in Native American petroglyphs. Constructed from collaged photographs, resin, paint and natural pigments, these bold graphic works celebrate the enduring materiality of some images whilst recognising the vulnerability and need to safeguard others. The compositions seek to make a connection beneath the surface and by deciphering codes he responds with a visual language to challenge the viewer.
In Soul Shaker, Ellis-Brown also raises questions about environmental sustainability, juxtaposing ancient and modern cultural signifiers to ask how we might reverse the devastating impacts of modernity and globalisation to preserve our precious natural resources.

FINAL FRONTIER:

“The universe is a big place, perhaps the biggest”

Kurt Vonnegut, The Sirens of Titan

 In Final Frontier, a series of mixed media works combining paint, pigments, metallics and photography, Ellis-Brown explores his fascination with humanity’s place in the universe, contrasting found images of modern day space exploration with ancient marks conceived from the visual languages of indigenous people.
Connections are drawn between classical deities and contemporary idealism, astronauts, the space race and Nineteenth-Century colonialism. With subtle humour Ellis-Brown lays bare the fragility and precariousness forever evident in human endeavour.

WISH YOU WERE HERE:

“A perpetual holiday is a good working definition of hell” George Bernard Shaw

Intimate, comical and quietly disconcerting, Wish You Were Here uncovers the eccentric side to the seaside holiday, as well as a yearning for nostalgia and a simpler life that once was. Based on classic seaside imagery from the 1950s, 60s and 70s, the works reveal hidden narratives from the daily routine of holiday life, while retaining the original charm that characterised the great British get-away.

The creative process used by Ellis-Brown – including paint, ink, varnishes and drum scanning – ensures the original spirit of vintage picture postcards is captured, as well as the authentic saturated colours and dot patterns from early offset lithographic postcard printing.

 

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