In her premiere New York solo exhibition, Ella Costan Toth’s new oil-based portraits are presented in three intimate room installations within Chashama’s latest gallery space located in a Chelsea storefront space at 303 10th Avenue. The work will be on view from September 6 – 16, 2012.
Inspired by how organized religion’s classical paintings focused on idolizing religious figures for the followers to worship and emulate, Toth has updated the subject matter with her paintings of present day idols – celebrities and public figures. Traditional houses of worship and places of community have been replaced by TV, magazines, and especially the internet. Endemic to her generation, Toth’s image source begins with photographs found online that she then manipulates to combine elements of the reverent and exploitative aesthetic of both the old and the new.
The ten portraits in the show range from a young James Dean, wearing Elizabeth Taylor’s headdress from Cleopatra, Dave Vanian from the British 70s band, The Damned, a young Elizabeth Taylor wearing a Viking helmet, Ronnie Spector as a bride with a veil is made of a clear plastic tarp – a sculptural element that is incorporated into several of the artist’s paintings that aid in contextualizing the idea in the work.
A separate closet-sized dressing room, features an installation of a vanity with lights. But here the woman’s reflection is replaced by a painting of the robot Maria from Metropolis. Toth’s portraits include an intense gaze – often staring right at and confronting the viewer – forcing an interaction in which the viewer not only considers the subject, but eventually themselves as well.
Ella Costan Toth was born in New York City in 1989. She gradated with her BFA in May 2012 from California Institute of the Arts where she studied with Martin Kersels, Tom Lawson, and John Mandel. In March of 2012 Toth’s work was seen most recently in “Nose Bleed” a group show at Fuse Gallery, NY. She currently lives and works in New York City.