Janiva Ellis creates dynamic paintings that use the formal themes of speed and transformation to explore the everyday experience and the fluid, fractured state of perception today. These images often examine cultural reckonings–idylls confronted with suppressed violence–that express the paradoxes of satire and sincerity in America. This exhibition marks the artist’s first solo museum exhibition, for which she has created a suite of new works during an extended residence in Miami.
Caricature is one of Ellis’s recurring motifs, which she uses in manifold forms, invoking angular histories of representation in American media. Figures are exaggerated, warped, and stretched, imbued with emotion, anxiety, and ambiguity. The result is an empathetic yet acerbic approach to a subject that is continually being unmasked. Landscape, specifically the art historical form of the pastoral, has made many appearances in Ellis’s work. Her settings reference American historical traditions and create a complex, even unintuitive narrative context. “The way a figure is painted in relationship to other figures or its environment can be as instructive to the narrative as the figure itself,” says the artist.
Janiva Ellis (b. 1987, Oakland, California) received a BFA from California College of the Arts, Oakland, in 2012. She recently exhibited her work at the 2019 Whitney Biennial, New York, and the 2018 New Museum Triennial: Songs for Sabotage, New York. In 2018 Ellis was awarded the Rema Hort Foundation Emerging Artist Grant and the Stanley Hollander Award. Her works are held in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Rubell Museum, Miami; and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami.
This exhibition is organized by ICA Miami and curated by Alex Gartenfeld, Artistic Director, and Stephanie Seidel, Curator.
Exhibitions at ICA Miami are generously supported by the Knight Contemporary Art Fund at The Miami Foundation.
Major support is provided by Andre Sakhai, Helen Kent-Nicoll and Edward J. Nicoll, and Ray Ellen and Allan Yarkin.