Elliott Green is a painter living in Athens NY. He has had solo exhibitions at D’Amelio Terras, New York; Postmasters, New York; Krannert Art Museum, Champaign, IL; Fawbush Gallery, New York; Hirschl & Adler Modern, New York and more. Recently he had a one-person show at the John Davis Gallery in Hudson NY. He has collaborated on works and exhibitions under the Team SHaG moniker with Amy Sillman and David Humphrey.


There has always been an implication of collage in your work but there is no actual collage. Frequently there is a feeling of parts (of figures or of landscape) being pieced together. With your apparently spontaneous brush work one would think that the result would be continuity while many moments of discontinuity exist in your paintings. Can you talk about this opposition in the paintings?


When I first started painting in my early twenties, I had been studying playwriting, and was enthusiastic about combining several painting styles on the same canvas, like Picabia, but with more communication between the parts or players. My interest in conveying more than one point of view was probably born out of my own feelings of being inconsistent or personally discontinuous.

I cultivated a range of expressive gestures with the purpose of describing characterization and emotion with paint: I invented painting tools and experimented with countless application methods. When invoking the many-voiced vision, there is the risk of producing a cacophonous madhouse, so to avoid that, I found ways to connect the parts, facilitate transitions, show relationships, and to locate all this activity in the same environment.


Elliott Green, Batweed, 2015, Oil on linen, 76" x 54"

Elliott Green, Batweed, 2015, Oil on linen, 76″ x 54″

As for collage, I don’t directly use outside material, not even for reference, I don’t even work from drawings–everything is generated from my head and travels through my arm and happens unplanned directly on the canvas. I do use dozens of brushes and tools, often holding several in my left hand at once. To encourage discovery, I might use colors I don’t personally like and seek out other colors that interact with them to bring out their best natures. By the time you add the variables of brush motion and speed, opacity and viscosity, the possibilities for stylistic variety are endless, and emerge almost effortlessly.

In the paintings I’ve been making in the last five years, the “Scenic Abstractions,” the attitude of a shape is indicated by its edges; how well it gets on with its neighbors and its surrounding environment is knowable by the texture of its borders–if it is rough or refined, feathered, blended, or hard-edged. It also reveals its nature and circumstances if it overlaps or has auras or attracts or repels, which can be displayed in a kind of body language of leaning in or away.


Elliott Green, Sex with Colors Outdoors, 2009-15, Oil on linen

Elliott Green, Sex with Colors Outdoors, 2009-15, Oil on linen

Then finally I edit, adding and subtracting, searching for unlikely relationships that will meld together to make an elegance like the best kind of poetry. I view the painting from a distance to survey the overall composition, which can sometimes be made more unified with bridging gestures that reach over to attach separate zones of activity. Ideally, the final result is a good mix of stylistic variety coexisting in a cohesive harmonic whole that has found its meaning and essential personality: this is certain to happen eventually, though it might take years.


Elliott Green, Furnace Mountain, 2013, Oil on linen, 36" x 60"

Elliott Green, Furnace Mountain, 2013, Oil on linen, 36″ x 60″


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