ClampArt is pleased to present “Scott Daniel Ellison: Witch Hazel,” the artist’s fifth solo show at the gallery—and arguably his most impressive. The exhibition is accompanied by an extensive catalogue of the same title—each copy with a unique artwork inside (Softcover, 48 pages, 26 full-color illus., 9 x 6.75 inches, $40).
Drawing from personal experiences and fantasies, Ellison paints a loose narrative involving an assortment of beasts, monsters, and ghouls. Often beginning with a favorite moment from classic horror cinema, the artist allows his mind to wander, setting the stage for an obscure episode from a story with no beginning or end.
In his catalogue essay, critic Scott Indrisek writes: “Anyone’s reaction to these scenes is also tempered by a simple fact: Ellison’s paintings present themselves as relics of a type, their surfaces scuffed and pre-aged, making it difficult to nail down their exact provenance. They’re either fresh from the studio or unearthed from some forgotten attic, where they weathered the decades before being rediscovered. . . The quality conjured is talismanic.”
Employing compositions of “apparent spontaneity” with a deceptively “simple visual vocabulary,” Ellison creates paintings with childlike qualities—or rather artworks meant for the delight and dread of children.
Trained as a photographer who counts images by Diane Arbus and Ralph Eugene Meatyard as early inspiration, Ellison’s work as a painter engages the storytelling methods of American folklore with “pared-down lines and forms” and a general economy of means, including a strict palette of few hues. In fact, many of the paintings in “Witch Hazel” were created with only blacks, whites, and grays, sometimes referencing classroom chalkboards, and perhaps doodles in the margin of a daydreaming schoolboy’s notes.