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Matt Ellwood, Negotiations & Love Songs

Matt Ellwood Negotiations & Love Songs

Michael Lett
11 April – 7 March 2009
Preview Wednesday 11 March 6-8pm   


Michael Lett is pleased to present Negotiations & Love Songs, an exhibition of new work by Matt Ellwood.

Ellwood employs the vocabularies of child’s toys, lollies, soft-porn and 1970s era magazine advertising as abundant resources for appropriative art making. The two sculptures in Negotiations & Love Songs take the form of oversized figurines that at first appear as exact, albeit up-scaled, replicas of a Smurf and a Lego Ferrari driver, however, on closer inspection, the Smurf’s tail has been transplanted onto the front of his trousers and the Ferrari driver’s usually red helmet has been rendered a fleshy pink. Ellwood’s seemingly slight formal manipulations reveal characters newly laden with sexual innuendo and forefront an abiding tension between delinquency, cynicism and complicit pleasure.

These particularly masculine figures are complemented by a drawing that stretches the length of the gallery – a compendium of hairstyles of Playboy centerfolds from 1970-1979. Disembodied, and distinctively 70s in style, these hairstyles become icons for the era marked by relaxed censorship laws and the resulting Playboy boom-time, while also acting as a fittingly obsessive register of his own personal collection of magazines. Combining the mythical status of centerfolds in soft-porn’s heyday and the characters a boy would have grown up with in this decade, Ellwood sets up allegorical filters for a playful, but equally perverse, subversion of master discourses around desire and consumption.

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Ellwood was born in Wellington in 1973 and now lives and works in Auckland, New Zealand where he is a Senior Lecturer in Fine Arts at Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design. Since graduating from the University of Auckland’s Elam School of Fine Arts Masters program in 2003, Ellwood has maintained an exhibition schedule in New Zealand and Australia. In 2004 he was awarded the Wallace Trust Development Award and New York studio residency. Most recently he staged a two-person exhibition, Girls & Boys, with Steve Carr at Melbourne’s Silvershot Gallery. This is Ellwood’s third solo exhibition at Michael Lett, preceded by Pleasure, Satisfaction in 2005 and Tastes Good in 2006.

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