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Serena Morton opens exhibition of new works by Damian Elwes
Lucian Freud’s Studio (London, 2002), signed and dated, gouache on board, 49 x 61cm.


LONDON.- Damian Elwes started out painting the studios of his favorite painters in Paris as a way of learning from the artistic luminaries. This body of work has now grown into a vast collection of visually stunning paintings that will be exhibited in London from November to December.

Using the artists’ work as a point of reference, Elwes allows their own aesthetics to guide him in recreating their studios. To research each artwork, Elwes delves deeply into history, scrutinizing photographs and literary sources as well as the masters' own paintings and drawings. He seeks out the buildings where the artists' studios were once situated. In the case o situated. In the case of Matisse, his sleuthing resulted in the rediscovery of the house in Collioure where the artist developed Fauvism in 1905. In the case of both Cezanne and Kahlo, he successfully reconstructed the original arrangement of furniture.

"The sense of painterly well-being that pervades [Elwes' canvases] comes from painstaking research," explains the art critic Anthony Haden-Guest. "Elwes wants the viewer to feel he is witnessing creation...to feel what it is like to inhabit each of these artists."

Alongside the detailed studio painting Alongside the detailed studio paintings, Elwes will also display some of his “Goddess” paintings, a series of nudes in nature that celebrate the healing power of women.

Damian Elwes was born in August 1960 in England and now lives and works in Santa Monica, California. He exhibits in galleries and museums across America and Europe.

Artist's Statement:
Upon graduation from Harvard, my play writing professor gave me a palette knife that had once belonged to Henri Matisse and which Matisse had given it to Alice B. Toklas.

The following year, in 1984, I was working on a film set in New York City when I met Keith Haring. He was drawing on the wall of a subway while my task was to control the crowd situation.

“Your job looks more fun than mine,” I exclaimed. He invited me to pick up some chalk and add to his drawing. I didn’t do that, but he encouraged me to start painting graffiti. I took over a condemned building on West 56th Street and covered it in paintings and soon I was represented by Keith’s London dealer, Robert Fraser. Robert told me that I was the only British artist who was making graffiti paintings at that time, and he put me in an exhibition with Basquiat and Haring at the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh.

I wanted to learn how to make paintings with brushes, but I couldn’t face going back to school. So I went to live in Paris. On the first day, I tried to visit the Bateau Lavoir but discovered that it had burned down in the seventies. I then went searching for the other studios of Picasso and Matisse, but they had been turned into fancy apartments and seemed inaccessible.

At Gustave Moreau’s studio, where Matisse had learned how to paint, I sat on the spiral staircase and made a drawing that showed both floors of that amazing old place. It was then that I had the idea to make drawings or paintings of every artist studio in Paris that I could find. That way I could watch artists at work and learn their techniques.

I spent the next two years walking all over Paris and knocking on doors wherever I smelled turpentine or linseed oil. When I finished a painting, the artist would look at it and say, “Well, if you like my mess then you’ll love my friend’s studio.” Thus, I would get the next address or phone number. The places that I saw were out of another time.

Last year, the Fleming Museum did an exhibition about “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.” MOMA does not loan out that painting. So the Fleming exhibited my painting of "Picasso’s Bateau Lavoir Studio" and also projected it on a large wall in a room at the beginning of the exhibition. So, visitors coming to see Picasso’s work had to first enter his studio where they could discover exactly what he was up to during the creation of “Les Demoiselles.” They could even pick up an ipad and aim it at elements in my painting and discover, for example, all the drawing studies he made of each of the Demoiselles.

I spend a lot of time researching the studios that I want to paint and then travel around and visit these places. Sometimes I have been lucky enough to discover studios of Picasso or Matisse that have been lost to history. The painting, "Matisse's Studio in Collioure," describes a studio like that where the current occupants had no idea that this was the place where Matisse and Derain explored Fauvism in 1905.





Today's News

November 14, 2016

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Philadelphia Museum of Art presents "Covering Letter" by contemporary artist Jitish Kallat

Sotheby's Hong Kong announces Important Jewels and Jadeite Sale

Munch, Monet, de Kooning to star in New York fall auctions

Italian, US artists to create works for Louvre Abu Dhabi

Exhibition of eight select images from Weegee's New York City street scenes on view at Laurence Miller Gallery

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Tina Kim Gallery opens solo exhibition of paintings by Korean artist Park Seo-Bo

New Orleans Museum of Art opens first comprehensive museum retrospective for Louisiana native George Dunbar

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Artemis Gallery's Nov. 17 auction puts spotlight on art from world's greatest cultures

Turner Auctions + Appraisals to offer Southwest jewelry from a private collection

The Quilted Sky: A group exhibition on view at Charlotte Jackson Fine Art

Serena Morton opens exhibition of new works by Damian Elwes

Contemporary Istanbul's 11th edition a success as collectors show solidarity with the fair

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A selection of denim drawings by Jim Arendt on view at UPSTATE Gallery on Main

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Exhibition of new work by artist Kathy Prendergast on view at Kerlin Gallery

Zabludowicz Collection presents an ambitious suite of new paintings by Willem Weismann

Norton showcases 2016 nominees in Rudin Prize for Emerging Photographers Exhibition

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