Selected works by Ellen Altfest

Ellen Altfest
Two Logs

2005

oil on canvas

48.3 x 71.1 cm

Ellen Altfest’s Two Logs mesmerises as a feat of monumental concentration. Bordering on abstraction, her still-life becomes lost in its own representation, each detail independently captured becomes a reverie of its reproduction in paint. Consumed by the making, Altfest uses her simple subject as a departure into an inner consciousness, allowing her gestures to form as unmediated psychological response to the scene. Flirting between reality and dream state, her work conveys an impalpable ambience through the luxurious materiality of her surfaces.

Ellen Altfest
Penis

2006

oil on canvas

30.5 x 28 cm

Focussing on the male member, Ellen Altfest’s Penis is painting up close and personal. Drawing from the hyper-realism of Chuck Close’s portraits, Altfest approaches her intimate subject with detailed obsession. Every wrinkle, vein, and hair is represented with painstaking accuracy, transforming ‘a bit of the other’ into a terrain of investigative wonder. Through the complexity of her process, Altfest denatures the abject into a field of inspiring contemplation. Each gesture and brushstroke encapsulates a metaphysical consumption, where desire and fixation are conveyed through the sensual study of painting itself.

Ellen Altfest
The Tree

2001

oil on canvas

152.4 x 114.3 cm
Ellen Altfest
Tumbleweed

2005

oil on canvas

106.7 x 132.1 cm
Working from life rather than photos, Ellen Altfest’s paintings exude an experiential quality: capturing the transference the impact of looking as it becomes imprinted in memory, she replicates her personal engagement with the objects as a tangible sensation on her canvas. Tumbleweed offers a cosmos of this ethereal state. Stranded between representation and intuitive painterly indulgence, Altfest proposes a vision of quiet contemplation, rendering a bewildering beauty from the study of the simplest things.

Articles

Ellen Altfest, “Still Lives”


BELLWETHER is pleased to announce Ellen Altfest’s second solo exhibition, Still Lives; featuring 11 oil-on-canvas paintings and one life size pastel. In a statement written for the show, artist and writer David Humphrey writes:
Ellen Altfest asks us to slow down, to crawl, to feel our way across the variegated surfaces of her depicted objects until we experience them as materialized hallucinations. The dense skin of her paintings invites us to travel into nether-spaces of bewildering complexity where we become lost in a thoroughly mapped world right in front of our eyes.
Altfest’s work is an exercise of extreme and deliriously inefficient will seeking both accuracy and metaphor. Altfest looks at her motif then looks away to perform precise labors in the fading memory of that perception, over and over again. Everything must be touched into existence, part by part. In her painting of a tumbleweed, Altfest first immobilizes it in the corner of her studio and then renders it on the canvas. But our eye continuously tumbles through the weed’s tangled geodesics to find purchase in its many areas of perplexing coherence.
The tumbleweed, like all her subjects, suggests a brain, a world or an animate being, before inevitably cycling back to its origin as nothing special. Ellen Altfest’s paintings celebrate the way objects become engulfed by their surroundings and simple acts of identification multiply and transform. Her disciplined vigilance encourages an ecstasy of matter and vision. - David Humphrey 2005

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Source: Bellwethergallery.com