Seeking to evoke familiar discomfort within all of us, ‘Dance Boldly Through The Storm’ explores the beautiful and often caustic realities of the world.
Eelus mixes humour with the macabre, light with dark and bright bursts of colour against grey skies. The regular juxtapositioning in his work highlights the paradox of day-to-day life and carries subtle political and social messages. He said:
“There’s so much tension and anxiety in the world right now. I’ve gotten into this awful habit of checking the news app on my phone almost as soon as I wake up with the fear and expectation that somewhere, something awful has happened; and more often that not, it has. We’re force fed doom 24 hours a day, a constant shit-storm of it, and it can make us forget how staggeringly beautiful this place is, and how much potential we have. This body of work is born of my anxieties whilst reminding me to try and stay optimistic."
While retaining his favoured monochromatic palette ignited with pops of vivid colour, Eelus expands his methodology in this latest body of work. The show will feature spray paint on canvas, multi-layered wood and paper and his first-ever 3D sculptural pieces.
Dance Boldly Through the Storm will feature a set of bonded bronze skulls that have been cast from a mold made from a real 12 month old human skull. The craniums are filled with tangled balls of beautifully dyed Peruvian wool, each strand dipped in clear resin before being shaped and sculpted and knotted into a complex scrambled mess of colour.
Eelus comments on the process and the meaning behind these pieces: “I have about 30 minutes to tease and shape the mess before the wool starts to set solid. Like with all my work I’m really drawn to the contrasting elements at work. The cold, dull, heavy solidity of the bonded bronze against the light, soft, brightly coloured wool.
“The pieces represent the confusion and anxieties of kids today. Their brains developing in a world of smart phones, games consoles and internet trolling. Studies have shown there’s a noted decrease in emotional development and a rise in ADD - a direct result of screen time over quality human interaction. Children’s minds, so full of colour and potential, are at risk of becoming twisted and tangled.”
Also in the series of sculptures is ‘A History Of Nonsense’, a specially sculpted bust of Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom and the arts. Cast in bonded bronze and aged to look like an authentic bronze Roman bust, her head has been cracked open to reveal a tangled mess of wool. The playful Dada-esque piece suggests the story of human history is, to a large degree, fabricated.
Evolving from street and stencil art, Eelus sees the canvas as place to explore darker themes, unshared through his previous street and community pieces. He comments: “I’m quite conscious about the work I paint outside as it becomes part of the lives of the people who live in and around that community. When it comes to the pieces I create in the studio, I know I have more freedom to make darker works that reflect that part of my personality.”
Eelus’ trademark figures - chiefly melancholic women - are limned in colour, suggesting the entanglement and necessity of light and dark.
The show title emulates the importance of pausing to reflect on the turbulent nature of modern times. Eelus explains: “It’s impossible not to get caught up in the madness of technology and insane decisions of the people at the top as they try and pull the wool over our eyes, making us lose site of what’s really important. What else can we do but keep our heads up, our eyes open and dance boldly through the storm.”
Combining his background in graphic design and illustration with vivid but often melancholic images of the female form, Eelus is a key figure in the contemporary urban art scene.
Dance Boldly Through The Storm runs from Thursday 12 - Saturday 28 October at Lawrence Alkin Gallery, 42 New Compton Street London WC2H 8DA www.lawrencealkingallery.com @lagalleryart