gallery nine5 is pleased to present Manifest Destiny, an exhibition of new works by Steve Ellis. One of New York’s finest Pop Realist painters, Ellis is well known for his technically virtuosic paintings. His dynamic representational technique favors the depiction of single objects rendered with near fetishistic focus, using pop culture iconography to explore various issues emerging from contemporary consumerism.
The centerpiece of the new exhibition is the monumental Manifest Destiny (You’re Either On The Bus Or…?), painted to appear as a collage of torn print media pages. The work investigates America’s expansion from colonial times through to the present day with a focus on environmental and socio-political issues. The layers create a landscape starting from the base of the canvas extending to a disjoined horizon that continues upwards into outer space. Loosely divided into halves, the natural world on one side is countered by human violence, brazen environmental destruction and religious discord on the other.
“I’m experimenting with the painted collage, blurring the lines between ‘high’ and ‘low’, and introducing a modern pop decadence and neo-symbolic approach in the tradition of Rosenquist, Warhol and Lichtenstein”.
The colorful, satirical works communicate narrative with concision and economy, and frequently feature wordplay. Not immediately apparent, the messages are placed subtly throughout the canvas, compelling the viewer to look more closely in order to piece the sentences together and engage on a deeper level with the work.
The new exhibition demonstrates Ellis’ masterful explorations in a wider range of media, including silk screens, wallpaper, light boxes and mixed media installations in addition to collages and paintings. Previous series have investigated the death of print media and the damaged, transitory beauty of American popular culture, featuring consumer detritus such as torn magazines, cigarette lighters, knives, broken high-heeled shoes, and crashed cars.
Born in Washington D.C., Ellis was raised in various cities within the United States. In 1989, the artist moved to New York City to study at the prestigious School of Visual Arts, where he excelled in realism. Following his graduation, Ellis lived and worked in varying neighborhoods in downtown New York, cultivating his aesthetic by immersing himself in the vibrant subculture of the city’s nightlife.
Ellis has exhibited extensively throughout the U.S. in addition to several international shows. These include exhibitions at the AC Institute, the Gershwin Hotel, the Studio @ 620, SoHo House, American Fine Arts and the Lexington Armory. He has been featured in such publications as the New York Times. Ellis’ works are held in private collections in Rome, Moscow, Abu Dhabi, Tokyo, Seoul, Auckland (New Zealand), New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami. He is currently a painting instructor at the School of Visual Arts.