LORI ELLISONby Corina Larkin
MCKENZIE FINE ART | JANUARY 5 – FEBRUARY 11, 2012
“Obsessive” and “compulsive” are two words that immediately and inevitably come to mind when one views Lori Ellison’s work. While apt, these words alone do not do her art justice. One shouldn’t underestimate the magnetic and persuasive power of Ellison’s diminutive paintings and drawings. The viewer eagerly follows her methodical investigation of geometric pattern. Triangles morph into swirling vortexes or organize themselves into tight vertical curtains. Monochromatic grids of dots are constructed in shades of blue or green, and chain links, nerve nets, or vaguely floral patterns cover small wood panels. Some patterns are in subtle relief, apparently formed with glitter glue. Ellison’s hypnotic gouache paintings occasionally call to mind process-based work by James Siena or Agnes Martin. But they also channel the unfettered spirit of outsider art, made by an individual focused solely on the creative act, without regard for art world expectations of size, production value, or conceptual heft. The delicate ballpoint pen drawings are the most compelling of the group. Done over more than a decade, their humble presentation on lined notebook paper belies a deep and moving exploration of repetitive forms. Of these, the organic shapes most warrant further inquiry. Inventive coral-like formations, twisted ropes, and volumetric folds (either floral or fleshy) achieve great dimensionality and provide the greatest visual impact.
CORINA LARKIN is a painter and writer who lives in New York City. She is also an editor of the Rail's ArtSeen section.