The paintings in ‘Everything is’ signal a widening of perspective for Sydney artist James Ettelson as he translates everyday experience into a tightly-knit tapestry of marks, motifs and colour. ‘It’s seeing the world through my eyes,’ says the artist, who ciphers inspiration from family, friends, landscape, love and loss – and everything in between.
Having spent much of his childhood travelling with his parents, Ettelson honed the art of looking; of ingesting experience and imprinting it on his mind’s eye. This valency of perception is symbolised in the series by a recurring eye motif, which peers out from each canvas with unblinking vigour. Playing with the notion of the gaze, these ubiquitous eyes reflect our own. They are also portals to another realm; a world of patterned pixels and colourful glitches. Yet while Ettelson meditates on his personal journey, the non-representational detail of the works nurtures a multitude of readings: the viewer may imagine lights flashing in a buzzing metropolis, cellular structures under a microscope or the tonalities, timbres and textures of a jazz composition. Herein lies the intrigue of Ettelson’s visual rhetoric; that it manages to conjure, simultaneously, a vast spectrum of imagery. This is prefaced by the title of the show, ‘Everything Is’, which is both truncated statement and open-ended question for the viewer to complete based on their own experience and imagination.
Employing acrylic, spray paint, stenciling and layering, Ettelson builds each canvas without preconception, tapping into the intuitive channel between head and hand, imagination and realisation. The paintings are at once raw and refined, intuitive and highly constructed, and at the heart of this dichotomous style is a quest for harmony. ‘I’m searching for the balance between everything’, says the artist, who sees his works as exercises in equilibrium via undiluted self-expression.
Together, the works in ‘Everything Is’ form a multifaceted prism of personal experience whilst also offering the viewer polychromatic platforms for their own imaginings – a place where everything is...
James Ettelson has exhibited throughout Sydney and has been featured in several notable publications, including Monster Children (2014), Real Living Magazine (2014), Brace Magazine (2014) and Stab Magazine (2012). He has recently completed a collaboration with boutique Australian surf brand, McTavish, for their art board series. His work is held in private collections in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and the USA, as well as in the public collection of Ovolo Hotel, Woolloomooloo.