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Ethan Cornell
Brooklyn, NY
Neighborhood: Red Hook

ARTIST STATEMENT: The two central and complimentary aspects of my work are fictional narrative and drawing from life: on the one hand a prolonged act of invention, balanced on the other by constant observation of the real. The story I tell is mythical, influenced by works such as the Ramayana mural in Bangkok’s Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the great statue of Laocoön in the Vatican, the narrative religious paintings of mediæval Flanders, and the science fiction that flavoured my childhood; the result is a mix, frankly indiscriminate, of high and low forms. In this space I find the freedom to tackle the very largest issues: the menace of death and the battle for survival, represented by direct physical strife between characters; desire, represented by the carnal act of sex, of course, but also through indulgence in forms of luxuriance that demand the use or exploitation of nature; sensuality and the need for love, represented through the individual object of beauty, generally isolated against a ground of gold or silver leaf – as we might metaphorically say it often is in the mind of the beholder. To balance the otherworldly aspect of my story, I am in daily pursuit of the real and the concrete through drawing from direct observation. This “non-narrative” practice helps me relate what I do to (and inject the material sense of) our physical surroundings, which are, at base, the context for all our other aspects, necessary to give what I create the weight of both visual and emotional plausibility. The corporeal and its representation are vital to practically every facet of my art: aesthetic, narrative, and emotional. This concern with the physical is further expressed in the construction of the articles on which the painting or drawing occurs. My aim is to extend the narrative beyond the flat surface of the image; many works have been specifically conceived as objects in themselves, with the further purpose of acting as a kind of relic: as palladions, perhaps, or shrines. While copper foil usually serves as the mark-making surface, I also use found objects such as tarpaper, pressed tin, old wood, or rusted iron for the attractive sensuality of their textures as well as for the sense of age and history they impart. Frames or boxes are also built using found material. The finished works do double duty, illustrating a narrative of which they themselves are a part, much in the way an artefact pulled from a dig recounts the history of which it is a remnant. This observation of the work’s extended physical presence has become central to my process, designed to join subject and medium in such a way that I may continually inflate their relations until they fit my purpose.

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  • Heroes
    Oil on Copper.

  • Untitled

  • Nature is a One-eyed Bitch
    Oil and gold leaf on copper forming metal, mounted on found panel.

  • Jealous
    Oil on copper forming metal, boxed in found tin wallpaper, hinges and safety glass.

  • In the Kitchen
    Oil on copper forming metal, boxed in found tin and wood, lit with fluorescent light.

  • The Wedding Gift
    Oil on copper forming metal, mounted on found formica, framed with found wood.

  • Selector
    Oil and gold leaf on copper forming metal

  • Charmer
    Oil and gold leaf on copper forming metal.

  • Beast-in-the-Garden
    Oil and gold leaf on copper forming metal.

  • Brooklyn Mistral
    Oil on cardboard.

  • From "Badly Remembered Textbooks" series
    Graphite on Paper.

647 Fulton Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217


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