Ellen Harvey: The Painting as Ornament, the Ornament as Painting

Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, USA
November 11, 2020 – February 20, 2021

Locks Gallery is pleased to present Ellen Harvey’s monumental Metal Painting along with recent related bodies of work that invert and re-contextualize the traditionally hierarchical relationship between the fine and decorative arts, between the celebrated artist and the artisan laboring in obscurity.

Metal Painting (2015) is a multi-part oil painting comprised of 826 individual “portraits” of all of the wrought iron pieces at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. Originally commissioned by and exhibited at the Barnes Foundation, Metal Painting was created in direct response to the defining idiosyncrasies of the institution—specifically Albert C. Barnes’ insistence that his particular installation of his collection be maintained unchanged in perpetuity, and, his decision to hang his paintings alongside his vast collection of hand-forged metal objects which he considered to be of equal artistic value. Related works include Double Forest (2017) which consists of two overlaid systems of representation: a painted forest and a collection of architectural leaf-inspired ornaments, Rorschach Ornament which juxtaposes two hand-painted shadows of architectural ornaments and works from Harvey’s Crack Painting series, which reinserts regular commercial peeling paint into the world of fine art.