JASON ELLIS, Corpus
Oliver Sears Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of new sculptures by Sligo based artist Jason Ellis, his first solo exhibition with the Gallery.
Having worked for over twenty years in conservation, Ellis was working on the restoration of a monument by John van Nost the Younger in the crypt of Christ Church Cathedral and was especially moved by the carving of the left forearm of the grieving female. He reflected on how the artist had captured perfectly a human emotion and set it, literally, in stone. This inspired the artist to enquire further into the power of individual ‘disfigured’ moments in art. In his research he studied many works including Christ’s right arm in Michelangelo’s Rondanini Pietá, Marat’s right arm in David’s ‘Death of Marat’ and various fragments from Greek and Roman antiquity. These observations took the artist from the purely abstract forms of his earlier practice to the detailed, yet abstracted, figuration of the human forms that comprise this body of work.
Here, thirteen works are first cast in plaster and then meticulously carved in stone. That they are as alluring as they are disturbing is a deliberate intention. The artist wants to unnerve the viewer by conflating polar attitudes towards the human form: the idealistic beauty of the corporeal figure that inspires admiration, lust and envy and the common sense of abhorrence of ‘other people’s’ flesh. (Sometimes the conflict arises within the same viewer) In Corpus the viewer is confronted with familiar body parts that are dismembered, abstracted from the whole, but at the same time, exquisite objects hewn from natural stone, typically Kilkenny limestone, Bath stone and Carrara marble. And, as with all sculpture of the human figure, the viewer inevitably focuses on his own mortality for here is humanity, captured and frozen, as alive as a tombstone.
Jason Ellis studied sculpture at the University of Chichester under Alan Saunders, a former student of Anthony Caro. He worked in London and Ireland as a conservator for twenty years before concentrating on his own work exclusively from 2006. Public works are sited in Bantry House, Co. Cork, the Druid Theatre, Galway and UCD. In 2010 he installed a public piece at the Garda Memorial Garden in Dublin Castle and showed at the 12th Venice Architecture Biennale.