Ellen Harvey: New Is Old

Curated by Ika Sienkiewicz-Nowacka
Laboratorium, Centre for Contemporary Art at Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland
August 8 – October 8, 2003

Ellen Harvey, who tagged New York City with tiny, oval-shaped landscape paintings, continues her witty beautifications at Warsaw’s Ujadzowski Castle. As is the case with most of the city’s “historic” center, the castle is actually a postwar reconstruction, and the only exception on its grounds—the seventeenth-century Laboratorium outbuilding—looks newer than the castle next door. To address this discrepancy, Harvey “aged” the Laboratorium’s walls with a patina of watercolor and painted trompe l’oeil neoclassical architectural motifs based on the Castle’s on the Laboratorium’s interior and exterior. A gallery of gilt-framed paintings depicting the center’s modernized offices and guestrooms (based on Polaroids) completes the installation. Just as Canaletto subtly altered dimensions and perspective to make his cityscapes look even more real than life, Harvey—tongue-in-cheek, with an affection for anachronism—makes things “look right,” simultaneously reinterpreting and interrogating painting and its relationship with reality – Eva Scharrer (ArtForum, 2003)