ClampArt is pleased to announce “Ghost Dance,” Scott Daniel Ellison’s third solo exhibition at the gallery.
Inspired by Scandinavian folklore, contemporary horror films, and early goth/heavy metal imagery (such as album covers, photographs, and ephemera), Ellison paints heavily layered panels which ultimately function as much as sculptural objects as simple images.
The artist was raised in a suburban development in upstate New York that was surrounded by cornfields, woodlands, and meadows. Ellison writes: “I remember running through a pine forest at night when I was about ten imagining I was being chased by creatures in the dark that I couldn’t see, just to scare myself.” His paintings thus reflect his fascination with darkness, mystery, and the anxiety of a story only half told. Ellison wants us to stop and ask questions: “What am I doing in this place?” “Am I in trouble here?” “Is that a friend or foe?” He explains that his attraction to that which might inspire fear or awe was perhaps a way for him to cope with feelings of true terror in real life.
Ellison first learned to paint by looking at such “outsider” artists as Bill Traylor, Henry Darger, and Henri Rousseau. “I always tend to enjoy the rougher stuff,” he says. “I’m a huge admirer of Mamma Andersson and Philip Guston’s later work.” The surface of Ellison’s pieces are irregular and lumpy, intentionally built up by the artist over time.
And in that vein, Ellison also releases music on his own record label. With song titles such as “Strange Weather” and “Wilderness,” the complexity that results from the meeting of his visual and musical output enhances both.