Eric Elliott


at James Harris


Eric Elliott’s renderings of his downtown Seattle studio are remarkably varied despite a narrow range of subject matter, color and paint handling. Favoring gray tones built up of cadmium red, yellow and blue, Elliott creates interior views, still lifes of potted plants, and studio setups with chairs, paint cans and tables. His second solo show (all works 2009) presented seven oils on canvas ranging from 22 to 54 inches to a side, plus two oils on paper.

The smaller works on canvas, like Ficus #2 and Photinia #4, have the densest paint surfaces, with the former being the more abstract: nothing is visible beyond the centered profusion of leaves. In the latter, a patchwork of horizontal strokes reveals a glass-potted plant, a bottle and a cup.

In the Studio, StudioObjects and Studio all exemplify the 34-year-old artist’s method. Moody and hushed, they approximate the blurriness of a distant view, though their subject is the close quarters of the studio. Several plants are repeated from painting to painting, but there is nevertheless a sense of freshness and unique painterly attack in each canvas.

The bright light behind the potted photinia plant in Studio Objects hints at an epiphany or revelation. The orderly composition of cylindrical vases, cups and paint cans in Studio may recall Morandi, but Elliott’s square windowpanes and chair backs add a greater degree of geometric abstraction to the ensemble. A study in white-on-white tones, Studio features the most crowded composition and the palest light.

In the Studio shows the artist seated, his hands resting in his lap. Surrounded by all the objects displayed in the other paintings, he is under a deep blue shadow, contemplating the tools of his trade. He may also be imagining paintings yet to be executed beyond this impressive, accomplished grouping.

Photo: Eric Elliott: Studio Objects, 2009, oil on canvas, 48 by 46 inches; at James Harris.