Taymour Grahne Projects is pleased to present Love - Love, a solo exhibition by Brooklyn-based artist Shaun Ellison, opening on July 16 between 4-7 pm at the Artist Room space (52 Lonsdale Road) as part of a joint opening across our 3 spaces.
As a young boy, when I didn’t have anyone to play tennis with, I turned to the wall. There was a wall in the backyard of the house I was raised in but it was tricky because the ground was covered in grass. The wall I used more frequently was in the garage of our house. Now, living in Brooklyn, I have returned to the wall, an accessible place I go to when I need a workout and to clear my mind. I’ve come to experience the wall as its own landscape of simple geometry, cracks, paint marks, and graffiti.
Against the wall, you’re equally matched. As hard as you hit the ball, it will come back at the same pace.
Last fall, I was going through a challenging time and locations such as Fort Greene and Washington Park were the places that grounded me. Watching tennis with my bare feet in the grass and being surrounded by rustling trees was deeply soothing in my time of need. These parks became spaces of community and friendship in which I could engage in ritual and regain a sense of balance. I painted Washington Park and Fort Greene Park as a way of paying homage to these moments.
In other paintings inspired by the ATP tour, I reflected on the Grand Slams (the four major tournaments in a given year). I thought about the depth of men's tennis, what goes on, on the back courts, especially in regards to the lesser-known players.
Medvedev, the number 1 in the world, recently lost to Van Rijthoven, ranked 200 in the world. This is a sport where nothing is guaranteed.
Korda vs Moutet, Australian Open, a second-round match–an epic five-set battle that I felt captured what it takes to play at the highest level; how harsh it is to be on the losing end of a marathon match that is decided by a few given points.
Nadal vs Federer 2008 Wimbledon Final. Despite my more comical depiction of the match, it was a moment of intense severity for both players. I thought about how tennis can feel like life or death. I thought about the players' entourage that dedicated their lives to this single moment. Particular matches won or lost can make or break players' careers. I wanted to recognize the nuance in this extremity and memorialize both the ascension of victory and the tragedy of defeat.
How does one handle loss or victory? Can we meet in both places with similar merit? What kind of practices are set up for overcoming our adversities? Where does one find nourishment and solace? What does it look like to live a balanced life?
All these questions come to me at a time when I am regaining my passion for playing competitively, but with a new spirit. I now recognize the loneliness and crushing weight I felt playing as a junior on the international circuit. These days, I am simply learning to play.
Shaun Ellison is a South African artist, living and working in Brooklyn, New York. Ellison studied at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, School of Visual Arts and NY Studio School. Ellison’s recent exhibitions include La Loma Projects, Kers Gallery (Amsterdam), Anna Zorina Gallery (NY) and Taymour Grahne Projects (London). Previous exhibitions include Ober Gallery (Kent, USA), Galleri Kant (Copenhagen) and Zero Zero (Los Angeles).