Chris “Daze” Ellis’ New York paintings hark back to his graffiti artist past
He started out as a graffiti artist, painting trains when he was a teenager, during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Christopher Ellis, who gained notoriety under his street name “Daze,” has since become a studio artist and is now exhibiting his colorful, riveting paintings at the Museum of the City of New York.
In a new show titled “The City Is My Muse” and curated by Sean Corcoran, Curator of Prints and Photographs at the City Museum, Ellis showcases powerful, visually captivating paintings of iconic New York locations, including Times Square, Coney Island, the subway system and the Staten Island Ferry. What sets Ellis’ paintings apart is the very evident influence that graffiti art has on his work: bold strokes that overwhelm the canvas, much like graffiti overwhelms city streets, and a constant feeling of motion, as if Ellis is capturing an ephemeral moment in time that has already disappeared from a city’s memory.
“Daze’s paintings are unique in their fusion of street style and easel painting,” says Corcoran. “His paintings are imbued with the memory of the New York of his youth, but remain unbound by nostalgia.”
“The City Is My Muse” is on view until May 1 at the Museum of the City of New York.