Charles Moffett is pleased to present Energy Broth, a solo exhibition of new paintings by Atlanta-born, New York-based artist Maggie Ellis. The exhibition marks the painter's third solo show with the gallery and her first presentation in New York since fall 2021. Gathering together 10 new oil paintings, the gallery's show follows Ellis's first solo museum exhibition The Ride, presented earlier this year at SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA.

Energy Broth embodies a lawless world all its own, inviting us to step into a space where anything goes but never letting us drift too far off the ground. Ellis' new series of paintings delve into the tautly pitched fusion of mania, rapture, and angst embodied in the phenomenon of the crowd, the seemingly unbelievable existence of the individuals that collectively comprise the mass. Bringing an unafraid, empirical approach to her practice, Ellis aims her penetrative eye on the world that surrounds her, from the absurd or comic to the tragic and ominous. She commands her stylistic repertoire of images and mark making to suit each composition, often deploying multiple techniques within a single canvas, ranging from photorealistic precision and heavy paint smears to optically mixing brush strokes.

While her immediate inspirations spring from the multitudinal lives of the city she now calls home, particularly the often frenetic, jarring nature of downtown Manhattan's sidewalks, Ellis delicately balances the contemporary with the historic. The paintings present familiar scenes of city-dwellers, whether barreling down a parkway or queuing outside a club. For her complexly stacked portrayals of interlocking figures, she looks back to the frescoes of Piero della Francesca. In the individuals' exaggerated forms, dramatic movements, and tumultuous interplay, one sees references to 16th century Northern Renaissance painters such as Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Hieronymus Bosch. Ellis evolves the humor and horror of her art historical predecessors, yet explores how those energies manifest in her contemporary environment.

Each painting is grounded by carefully drawn figures, all infused with a distinctive personality and clear articulation of how they spatially and emotionally relate to one another. Ellis pulls from myriad sources to inspire each figure - from a TikTok video of a contortionist to scenes from the 1979 The Amityville Horror to Susan Sarandon as Louise from 1991's Thelma & Louise to a dog she sees walking down her block. By starting with such exacting figures, the artist introduces room for a highly instinctive and inventive approach to color, texture and light. Hair may be electric neon, skin an extraterrestrial green, a face dissolving into dappled light emanating from within. The captivating potency of Ellis's realm lies in both its immediate sense of the familiar and mundane and its undeniable rejection of our earthly logic in favor  of an otherworldly magic.