Sweet F.A. literally translates to “Sweet Fuck All” with the work, as well as the artist’s practice, based on the belief that notions of failure and success, content and emptiness can be reversed at will. Ellis seeks to question the accepted wisdom that only an artist’s `successful’ output should make its way from the studio to the gallery.
For the exhibition, Ellis will install the site-specific sculpture, Sweet F.A. in the gallery’s front window – an object in which the tension between the aggressive meaning(lessness) of the text and the structure that supports it becomes the content of the work. In the main gallery, the artist will present two different series of deconstructivist paintings. Both bodies of work serve as a journalistic look into the artist’s mind and his take on the art world, and its institutions as a whole. These works, with such titles as Nothing, Fuck All, Nada and I Fucked up my Last Painting are paintings presented in their barest sense, stripped down raw, reduced to a confrontation between an incipient nihilism and human will.
With Abandoned Painting and So You Made this Painting Sometime Ago? Ellis pushes his paintings to a point where their physical and sculptural properties overwhelm their pictorial function. Abandoned Painting, with its painted surface cut away to reveal an improvised and blackened stretcher below, becomes the artist’s monument to loss and failure, at once deeply personal and, in the context of the art world, provocatively downbeat and nihilistic. In So You Made This Painting Sometime Ago? Ellis attaches a smaller painting to the surface of a larger work creating a sense of unreconciled tension between the pathos of the former and the absolute superficiality of the text emblazoned on the latter.
In a series of paintings collectively titled The Sunny Isles Potaintings and the video work Abuse Bucher (Abuse Books) Ellis confronts his own egotism with an irreverent, aggressive, humorous anarchy of expression. The artistic project becomes a matter of self-expression at any cost, good or bad, enlightening or offensive, uplifting or just downright rude.
Tom Ellis’ unapologetic work is centered around humor, aggression, the bad, the paradoxes and existential problems that emerge if one actually begins to seek the BAD, and of course, as seen in his recent text installation at Pulse, Miami, Je Ne Regrette Rien or “No regrets”, the anarchic implications of adopting such a devil-may-care approach.