Curated by Agnieszka Kulazińska
Centre for Contemporary Art Laznia, Gdansk, Poland
January 2 – March 26, 2023
Ellen Harvey is a British/American conceptual artist using a wide range of media. She creates oil paintings, drawings, installations, maps, and works in public spaces. In her work she often uses classical techniques to examine contemporary society, our attitude towards nature, tourism, art, and the tendency to museify places and objects. In the exhibition at the CCA ŁAŹNIA 2 several of the artist’s painting projects will be presented. The works analyse the issues related to the loss of places, a delight in nature, and the impossibility of preserving this emotion.
„We live in a world that often feels like it is disappearing before our eyes. Spaces we love are changing. Places we hope to visit cease to exist. The forces of war, time, ideology, greed, and natural disasters continually transform the locations we love but cannot control, or save”, as the artist describes one of the exhibited works. Consisting of over two hundred paintings, the cycle entitled The Disappointed Tourist was inspired by a desire to repair what had been destroyed. The places captured in the paintings were reported to the artist by the viewers in response to the question, “Is there a place you would like to visit or see again that no longer exists?” The project maps memories, locations that have been the scene of traumatic events, ecological disasters, the victims of gentrification, technological or fashion changes, or a simple redirection of the popularity of tourist destinations. The formal inspiration for the compositions were old postcards, as well as the tradition of tourist painting – both the paintings produced for wealthy tourists to take home, and the travelling ones, which allowed the “pre-photographic viewer” to experience distant places. In her cycle, the artist seeks to restore what has been lost, while acknowledging the inadequacy of this procedure.