Curator's Choice - Zavier Ellis

Every month project curator Zavier Ellis recommends three pieces from the PROJECT PAPYROPHILIA inventory: 

Zavier, how did you make your selection?

Before I think or assess or research I always go with instinct first.

Who did you go for and why these artists?

Three artists who do very different things, but who all evoke my Romantic spirit: Graham Dolphin, Jo Dumpleton, Simon Keenleyside.

OK, tell me a bit about each selection starting with Graham Dolphin:

I’ve known Graham’s work a long time and have really enjoyed working with him throughout this project. The use of text is an ongoing obsession of mine and Graham keeps inventing new ways of working with it. I was quite stunned when I saw images of this series and in reality they are better again. The technique is wonderful but it’s the simplicity of the monochrome and the way the text appears from and disappears into smoke that gets me. The form is fleeting and disrupted but is captured in a moment.   

And your second choice – Jo Dumpleton:

Conversely, Jo is an artist who I have come to know very recently. I am always drawn to extreme figuration in pencil but of course it can never be technique alone that carries an artist through. Jo has wonderful technique and the paper object is beautiful and delicate, but her choice of subjects have real resonance. They are ambiguous—she doesn’t give us everything, which is important to me; and in using vintage photographs as source material, or even subject matter, she also reminds us of the passing of time and lives lived and lost. Jo’s cropping is also on point and adds another layer of complexity.

And finally – Simon Keenleyside:

Simon is another artist I have followed for a long time. He is a genuinely Romantic painter, which he expands on in his fascinating Q&A. The woods have been a profound subject throughout Romanticism, and in Germany in particular; and despite Simon painting his nearby environment in Essex, they transport me elsewhere. He’s painting a real place that becomes a place of the mind, archetypal perhaps. Simon also discusses an underlying darkness in his work, which takes us into the territory of the sublime­—a place of wonderment, awe, and threat. I’m enjoying reconsidering them in this context.