Three.Two.One. Hooks-Epstein 2017

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Artist's Statement

These paintings, the latest in a long series of portraits of domestic objects, were made during the period preceding and just after the recent presidential election. As with most artists’ work, the paintings reflect both the outside world and the artist’s inner world.

Because of my education in the study of literature and because of my life-long love of reading fiction, metaphor and narrative have a role in my paintings.

The still lifes are images for contemplation, for meditation, and are, perhaps, little grenades. The bowls or eggs or plums are the everyday stuff of our pantries and of our daily lives, which is why I keep returning to them as subjects for my paintings. They are familiar beyond seeing. They are fragile.

I am interested in the notions of beauty, the extraordinariness of the ordinary, and the transitory nature of and inevitability of loss inherent in everything.

Small worlds do exist in details. Large worlds, too. “Attention must be paid,” as Arthur Miller told us. In a recent New Yorker Magazine profile Rebecca Mead wrote about this exchange, while visiting the Frick Museum with the director Kenneth Lonergan (his most recent film is Manchester by the Sea): “Lonergan turned to a Degas painting of a ballet rehearsal. He marvelled at the artist’s lifelong obsession with the female form. ‘All these shapes of ballerinas,’ he said. ‘Woman in the tub washing her hair. Woman getting out of the tub. Woman tying up her hair. Woman being given a bath. Woman having a bath. Ballerinas, ballerinas, ballerinas.’ He paused. ‘If I could get that interested in something, and stay interested in it for my whole life, that would be wonderful. I wouldn’t have to worry about being creative again.’”

Just so. I have been interested in these objects for a lifetime of painting.

Ellen Berman
February 2017