Diana Ellinger makes Frankenstein paintings. Her process-driven work is a patchwork of methodologies and modes of thinking that weave together pockets of repurposed abstract expressionism with her own constructed painterly systems. Anti-compositional strategies – use of ready-made marks, arbitrary colour combinations and erasure, combined with the subconscious working of gestural art – make Ellinger’s paintings necessarily complicated monsters.
Ellinger wants to re-do gestural art; a bodily up-cycle but with new parts, stand-ins and pre-fabricated bits. Her paintings work themselves out. Their process makes them. Deep layering affords the viewer a kind of archaeological dig through entangled strokes obliterated and then revealed. Buried marks scar the surface, reappearing layers later. This is where the ready-made elements – poured paint, found marks – make a compositional play.
Colour is important. Ellinger works with a collection of mixed colours that she names – bored grey, garage pink, so on – each with its weight, personality and function. Slippages in their make-up sneak into the work, another type of automatism that leans heavily on memory. Ellinger employs this unpredictability through the application of paint and its removal, through crude shapes and the bumpiness of layered paint. In I’m not moving towards you, the marks are backlit by a ground reminiscent of a Joan Miro dreamscape, or the light of a mobile screen. Brushwork hovers above the surface and then submerge. Gestural, bodily movements appear in the mark-making but other hard-edged artefacts complicate the picture. The surface is patched, re-loved and worked-over, it tells the story of its making. Its abject beauty comes alive.
Diana Ellinger lives and works in Canberra with her little family of five. Before painting she was a graphic designer and illustrator. Currently she is an MPhil candidate at ANU university, her higher degree research builds upon established notions of abstraction. Ellinger has shown multiple times at the Canberra Contemporary Art Space in Manuka and contributed to the group show GROUNDED at Gallery Jones, Ripponlea in 2023.