Where Art Happened - From Klint to Party (Selected Works)
17 November - 18 December 2020
This November, Unit London will present its first solo exhibition with Damian Elwes. Entitled Where Art Happened: From Klint to Party, the exhibition offers a striking continuation of Elwes’ examination of prominent artists and their creative spaces.
Elwes began exploring and experimenting with representations of artists’ studios when living in Paris in the 1980s. The experience, early in his artistic career, led Elwes to understand the figure of the artist through his or her belongings and the idiosyncratic placement of these items. As such, these physical spaces became reflections of the artist’s mental space. For Elwes, the artist’s studio and its specific contents became emblematic of the essence of a creative personality, evolving into intimate psychological portraits. Following the advent of the internet, Elwes was able to gain online access to imagery of the studios of eminent 20th-century artists. He viewed these images as puzzle pieces and began to decipher them, bringing them together to create complete representations of the iconic creative spaces presented in Where Art Happened: From Klint to Party. Elwes uses multiple research sources to produce these unified depictions. By scouring the internet, written evidence and talking with people who experienced these spaces first hand, Elwes is able to capture singular portraits of artists at particular moments in their lives.
Damian Elwes is a Santa-Monica based, British artist whose work centres on the recreations of prominent artists’ studios. Elwes began his artistic career as a graffiti artist in the 1980s, before being convinced to turn to painting by the renowned street and pop artist Keith Haring. The artist’s first paintings were exhibited in 1984 by London gallerist, Robert Fraser, and were hung alongside works by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. From 1986 to 1987, Elwes lived in Paris where, instead of studying fine art at an institution, he spent his time seeking out artists and their studios, asking if he could be privy to their creative spaces. Elwes’ career took a turn when he moved to the edge of the Columbian rainforest and began producing expansive images of the surrounding nature. After purchasing a computer upon his relocation to Los Angeles, Elwes was able to access imagery of the studios of famed artists, such as Picasso and Matisse. Now, his works serve as visual documents of these creative spaces that have been lost to history. In 2019, Elwes’ studio paintings were displayed alongside works by Eugène Delacroix in order to showcase and explore the artistic process.