Born Raleigh, NC, 1971 Lives and works in Brooklyn, NY
David Ellis is an artist born into a family immersed in music. In his youth Ellis had little patience with piano lessons or reading sheet music. Instead he absorbed everything on The Super Mix, a Saturday night radio program broadcast from the nearby Fort Bragg military base. Each week a new cassette tape of emerging New York hip-hop found its way into the life of a child growing up in a log house in North Carolina. By the time Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5 released The Message, Ellis was writing rhymes and banging out beats with his friends on the desks at school. Things have since become much louder.
Ellis’ work continues to interpret music and sound. His paintings are often recorded in a form of digital time-lapse animation Ellis calls motion painting. Like jazz, these works provide Ellis with an opportunity to combine ideas with collaborators or work solo within a form that promotes improvisation and spontaneity. For a recent commission the artist painted a truck from sunup to sundown over five consecutive days. Ellis often stages events when exhibiting his motion paintings, inviting musicians, performers, and sound artists to interpret the work live. His motion painting, Paint on Trucks in a World in Need of Love was recently exhibited at MoMA.
Ellis’ paintings are frequently improvised. He works directly on the walls of spaces that remain open to the public during installation and shares the making of the work with viewers. The experience is much like a band playing in front of a passing audience.
Ellis further explores sound with kinetic installations that produce analogue sequences in rhythm.