I first saw Elliot Green’s work years ago — towards the end of the last century, in fact – when he painted strange, rubbery figures doing incomprehensible things; they were whimsical and sinister, which is one reason why I liked them. Years went by and I didn’t come across any of Green’s work. And then BLAM, I saw two of his paintings this past summer in a group show, Objecty, at Tibor de Nagy, which I reviewed. What I like about his paintings is that they come out of left field— meaning his own history – and they are unapologetic about their celebration of sensual beauty.
Green is a wizard with paint – he applies it in different ways, scrapes and pulls it up, all seemingly without effort. He can have the grooved brushstroke hold two colors, become dry as it is pulled across the surface, or stay lush and yummy. The brushstrokes become things that slip away from our ability to name them, even when he titles a painting “Green Helmet” (2015). He can evoke a landscape where four different kinds of weather are going on at the same time — it is like the island of Hawaii, which has the greatest concentration of different climates (from frigid to torrid, and rainy to dry) in one geographic area. The striking thing about Green’s work is the restraint running through it, as evidence the thin layers of paint, and the premier coup approach they convey.
Written by John Yau