Artist Ellie Wang spends her time painting reimagined and abstracted versions of orange peel, aubergines and turnips. The result: an explosive symphony of colour and movement.
Ellie, who splits her time between London and Chengdu, China, recently completed her bachelor’s degree at the Slade School of Fine Art. Since her graduation, Ellie has been living in Brixton’s San Mei Gallery, which she – alongside a group of friends – hopes to set up and run as an alternative art space. “By alternative,” Ellie explains, “I mean that it isn’t a usual White Cube gallery. We don’t represent people. We try to go about each event individually according to the people that approach us in order to grow the space organically.”
On her works in particular, Ellie tells It’s Nice That that she tends to "usually draw inspiration from whatever is happening around me,” she explains. “That includes the conversations I have, as well as the things that make me laugh or think. The painting will often start as a sculpture that will then be reinterpreted as an image through different mediums. I like to work with painting, sculpture and sound, exploring the intricacies of the relationships between them through my art. The juxtaposition of otherworldly aesthetics with more monotonous or unremarkable features is what dictates the work.”
Having spent the past few months working on installations, Ellie is now turning her attention back to painting. Taking a break, Ellie believes, is integral to a healthy creative output. Discussions, debates and conversations are what inspire a thoughtful and thought-provoking body of work. “Painting will continue to be a personal thing to me due to the nature of working in a painting studio,” Ellie says. “But pursuing other activities aside from being in the studio all day every day will almost certainly push the painting into a different realm.” Cultivating interests beyond art is one way of limiting the regurgitation and repetition of ideas that may otherwise occur when spending so much time in the same contained space.
Shades of purple, orange, blue and green permeate Ellie’s body of work. Each painting is characterised by its dynamism, its surreal take on the fixed realities of everyday life. “I quite like making paintings that don’t look like the same person has made them,” the artist admits. “Even if I am making a number of paintings at the same time, I like for each one to be distinctly different so that every painting can hold a room.” Ellie may take commonplace objects as her creative starting point, yet each artwork is shaped and molded by the unique emotional and psychological context in which it was created.
When asked what lies ahead, Ellie talks of working with other emerging artists in China. Collaborative projects are central to building international creative networks and relationships between Asian artists in Asia, and those working or living in the UK. Ellie says: “I am half Chinese and feel that there is a real lack of representation and a misrepresentation of Asian individuals and collectives within the arts in the UK. I want to invite more of a conversation between Asian artists and the diaspora.”