Give It All You Got: A Moving Body of Work from Chris DAZE Ellis
Chris DAZE Ellis' paintings seem to be born out a dream. His trainyards, subways and graffiti history are seeped into each work, but the way he executes it reminds us of how we deal with our own memories. Some works are crystal clear landscapes of a NYC of the past, while some are blurred with very little figurative representation coming from beneath the spray. It's as if DAZE is remembering some parts of his past with an utter clarity, and some of his past life is fading away. The result is a stunning new show, Give It All You Got, on view now at PPOW in NYC.
There seems to be a new focus on the early years of graffiti culture, as we have seen in countless retrospectives but also an upcoming Phillips auction, 1970s / Graffiti / Today. DAZE is right here in that mix, with a series of works encapsulate that greater conversation between nostaligia and contemporary vision. Graffiti is often spoke of in the past tense, not just because its greatest pieces are often buffed and disappear rather quickly, but because of how we often think of the places it is painted. NYC has changed dramatically, as has so many cities over the last 50 years, but what the pandemic showed us was that graffiti was quickly alive as the cities slept. DAZE's faded and bold revelations capture that mood; of what was but actually what is beginning to be born again.
Maybe that is why there is such a new emphasis on graffiti in the art again, where we saw Pat Phillips explore graffiti's language and the new NOGA book, that what we see in our cities today is a boom of rebellious nature of graff culture. Seeing DAZE's work is a reminder of how our cities have evolved, but how an art from born in NY is a mirror to the city's evolution as well. —Evan Pricco