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Visual AIDS is pleased to announce the release of Darrel Ellis, the most comprehensive account of the artist’s work to date. The book is available for preorder on the Visual AIDS store ($49.95).

Darrel Ellis (1958–1992) was a mixed-media artist known for his experimental approach to painting and photography, exploring the relation between surface, memory, and lyric self-representation. As a budding artist, Ellis discovered an archive of photographs made by his late father, who died tragically at the hands of the police only a month prior to Ellis’s birth. These images—snapshots of his father’s life in Harlem and the Bronx during the 1950s—provided a connection to the man he never had the chance to meet.

Over the next ten years Ellis turned to these photographs for inspiration and transformed them through projection, deconstruction, and repetition. Ellis’s depictions of family members both living and deceased are odes to time immemorial and the notion of how we come to know ourselves through desire and distortion. His commitment to the self-portrait was no less inspired, particularly after his experiences of being photographed by Robert Mapplethorpe and Peter Hujar. Ellis used these portraits as material for his own paintings in creative acts of representational reclamation. Ellis was on the cusp of major recognition when, at the age of thirty-three, his life was cut short by AIDS.

About the Book

The monograph includes over 80 plates that chart Ellis’s development from figurative painting to photographic experimentation and his later interest in self portraiture. Essays by Derek Conrad Murray, Steven G. Fullwood and Tiana Reid offer critical perspectives on the work, and artists Sadie Barnette, Alanna Fields, S*an D. Henry-Smith, and Paul Mpagi Sepuya reflect with Ariel Goldberg on the enduring resonance of Ellis’ images. A richly illustrated chronology, featuring never before seen excerpts from the artist’s journals and an examination of the artist’s unique photographic process provide new insights into Ellis’ life and work.

Book Launch

Visual AIDS will host a book launch for Darrel Ellis at Candice Madey Gallery on Saturday, October 23rd at 3pm. Artists Allen Frame and Alanna Fields will speak about Ellis’s experimental approach to painting and photography, and a small selection of Ellis's work will be on display during the event. Capacity at the gallery is limited because of social distancing protocols, and the event will also be livestreamed and recorded. Please see here for more information and to RSVP.