Teasing the personas of Renaissance portraiture, with the wonderful and uncanny semblances of life, Ellie Kammer’s paintings submit to an intermediary state – one that confuses reality with dream.
Sparing, uncomfortable, and disarming. Kammer is proving to be one of Adelaide’s most interesting emerging artists. Drawing inspiration from the old masters, her obsessions began with Sorolla, Caravaggio and Rembrandt, occupying a style known as ‘figurative expressionism’. Kammer makes up for her lack of schooling by participating in an online academy. Meanwhile practical studies such as reading deepen her awareness of past and present artists. “I’m dangerously in love with Jenny Saville. I try not to get obsessed with artists, because their style ends up creeping its way into my work and I lose originality. I’m also madly in love with Alex Kanevsky, Ben Quilty, Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud to name just a few,” says Kammer.
Ellie Kammer, Len (2016)
Exploring the human condition is one of Kammer’s favourite pastimes and features heavily through her works. “I can’t really help it. Last year I was diagnosed with endometriosis and I am still finding it hard to come to terms with it, adjusting my lifestyle according to the disease’s needs than my own. At the moment my focus is to raise awareness about this crisis and what better way to do it than through the delicious medium of oil paint.”
Ellie Kammer with her work Endometriosis (in progress)
Kammer’s struggle with the chronic disease, which causes infertility, swelling and bleeding in the lower abdomen, also presents itself in her works. “This expressive style I’ve been experimenting with lately demands a bit of madness and rule breaking. At the same time though, I work to a deadline and with some very expensive materials, so I can’t afford the time or money to allow myself to go wild on the canvas and risk ruining the image. Though there may be the impression of looseness in the application or technique, every stroke is considered.” The artist describes herself as being anxious, overanalysing, and uncomfortable but as soon as work resumes, “nothing in life matters and no area of the painting is unconquerable.”
Ellie Kammer, Endometriosis (in progress) (detail)
The piano, tattooing, languages and writing are also important to the artist. Though they may not affect the themes of her work directly, she swears she can’t “make it to the zone” without them. Working out of home, Kammer intends on relocating to her sister’s soon-to-open café and art hub, Karma & Crow. The artist is excited about the prospects of working in the creative environment that her sister’s venue will bring. “I used to want to be alone, but I’m finding that surrounding myself with other peoples’ positive artistic energy is great fuel to get busy.” Though she admits her current studio room is very different. “I like the idea of being organised but five minutes later it’s all over the floor, palette, and desk. I’m hopeless, but then so was Bacon, and he was celebrated for his madness.”
Ellie Kammer, Study of a Mother (2014)
Growing as an artist, Kammer’s ambivalent sentiments towards her work have changed. After heavy involvement in local group and solo shows, Kammer will head to Los Angeles next year for an artist residency with Australian hyperrealist painter, Robin Eley. Meanwhile in August of this year, the painter will exhibit new works at Floating Goose Studios as part of the annual SALA. ellie-kammer.squarespace.com facebook.com instagram.com