ART & DESIGN

Ellen Altfest’s Reality Check


Photographer: Vincent Dilio

Painter Ellen Altfest has a gift for detail. Her refined, hyper-realistic paintings of everyday objects—which can take her an entire year to create—demonstrate both incredible craftsmanship and her ability to see beauty in the minutia of life. Recently, Altfest has turned her attention to fabrics and textiles—resulting perhaps in her most intricate body of work yet. At an upcoming MK Gallery retrospective, Altfest contextualizes these new works with her early renderings of wild life and hairy swathes of skin. Here, a sneak peek.

Altfest’s eponymous show will be on view until May 31st at MK Gallery in London, mkgallery.org.

1
Photographer: Vincent Dilio

The artist reclines in her Brooklyn Studio.

2
Photographer: Vincent Dilio

“I like to be surrounded—almost cocooned in what I’m doing.”

3
Photographer: Vincent Dilio

I’ve always been drawn to textiles, but this is the first time I’ve painted them. The individual quality of each stitch fascinates me.”

4
Photographer: Vincent Dilio

“When I’m using a model I have to be really conscientious about who I choose to work with because we’ll spend six months or more together. This time—the guy was a musician. We got along well. ”

5
Photographer: Vincent Dilio

“I was looking for a very specific kind of studio space. I needed certain windows, certain light. I spotted this place while biking around.”

6
Photographer: Vincent Dilio

“The detail level on these garments is amazing but the heads were bothering me —I cut them off.”

7
Photographer: Vincent Dilio

“I used pins to help me map out the images otherwise it would be impossible to pick up where I left off. At the end, I paint them out”

8
Photographer: Vincent Dilio

“I only work in natural light, so in the summer, I can work for longer, but, in winter, I’m limited to short days.”

9
Photographer: Vincent Dilio

“Over time, my work has gotten smaller and more detailed. I think it’s come out of this desire to always dig deeper.”