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.

Other Resources

bellwethergallery.com - Ellen Altfest: Still Lives, by Roberta Smith, The New York Times.
Twin obsessions with paint and nature collide and collude over the course of the 10 small and smallish canvases in Ellen Altfest’s promising first New York gallery show.

bellwethergallery.com - Ellen Altfest, Critics choice in Artforum
Since her debut show at Bellwether in 2002, Ellen Altfest has become decidedly more precise and yet, at the same time, considerably less so.

artnews.info
Featuring 11 oil on canvas paintings and one life size pastel. All works were completed over three years, Altfest focuses her attention on natural objects both in the studio and in the landscape: cacti, a tumbleweed, and driftwood on the studio floor.

bellwethergallery.com - Time out review of Ellen Altfest
The list of Ellen Altfest’s subjects – driftwood, tumbleweeds, cacti – does not suggest a very lively artistic practice. Yet the painter makes the mundane enchanting in these 15 oil paintings (just three from 2005) and one work on paper, the results of three years of painstaking labor since her last solo show in 2002.

bellwethergallery.com - Ellen Altfest reviewed in the New Yorker
One of those huge, sliding, sheet-metal-covered doors that city dwellers know so well appears in the best picture in Altfest’s show; nestled next to it, where a rat or pile of recyclables should be, one finds a giant tumbleweed. Indeed, the whole series of craftily painterly, stubbornly realistic still-lifes stages a dialogue between the cactus-studded West and an East of peeling paint, imprisoned houseplants, and sooty rooftop views.

bellwethergallery.com
New York Observer story on Ellen Altfest: ‘Altfest’s Austerity’

bellwethergallery.com
Ellen Altfest, by Steven Stern, New York Absolute

the-artists.org
Additional information.