In her third solo exhibition with Haines Gallery, San Francisco-based artist Amy Ellingson presents SUMMER FRIEZE, an installation featuring twenty-four new oil and encaustic paintings. These new works, titled Inverse Studies, are a departure from Ellingson’s established scale (all works are 16 x 12 inches) and methodology of predetermining all elements of her paintings via digital technology. The works represent the rediscovery and integration of a more intuitive painting method, contrasted with Ellingson’s familiar geometric module. In SUMMER FRIEZE, works are presented in a linear installation, with the paintings placed at irregular intervals over a varying progression of laser-cut vinyl elements, composed in situ. This layering beautifully highlights the juxtaposition of colors employed in both the paintings and the vinyls.
About her process for these works, Ellingson states: “I began the works by establishing some simple rules: each painting has no more than five succinct steps, with at least one of those steps involving the immediate, intuitive application of paint; each is different in terms of color, mood, and paint handling; and each is finished with the same encaustic grid of nine oblong forms.”
In contrast, Ellingson’s process has traditionally begun with digital renderings of simple geometric forms, which she then duplicates, modifies, and layers into complex patterns using the aid of a computer. These delicate configurations are then replicated, layer by layer, with oil paint on wood panel. Atop these layers she encases the work with encaustic, an ancient painting technique. The resultant works are engaging and elegant with an energizing sense of materiality and surface. Ellingson’s utilization of the contrasting techniques of fast digital image-making and the slow, meditative processes of oil and encaustic painting highlights the distinctions between the digital and the handmade and, as Ellingson states, emphasizes “the translation from the ‘virtual’ to the ‘real’ —from the flat, slick realm of electronic data to the textural, sensual materiality of paint.”
The works in SUMMER FRIEZE continue Ellingson’s investigation into this dichotomy, newly articulated through her use of intuitive painting in contrast with vinyl elements. The resulting installation is a striking move toward a more flexible, variable and improvisational approach to Ellingson’s familiar vernacular.
Amy Ellingson received her M.F.A. from California Institute of the Arts in 1992. She is the recipient of a Ucross Foundation Residency (2010), the Fleishhacker Foundation Eureka Fellowship (2009), and the Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellowship (2007). Her work has been exhibited nationally at such institutions as Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco and The Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento and is held in various public collections, including the Oakland Museum of California, the U.S. Embassies in Tunisia and Algeria, and the Contemporary Museum in Hawaii. Amy Ellingson lives and works in San Francisco.