Damian Elwes

DamianElwes-Sourceofthe Amazon-detail-2B-SMDamian's piece, "Source of the Amazon," is being proposed for the Griffith Park I-5 Freeway Sound Wall project.  

“So much life begins at the source of a river. This painting describes a major source of the Amazon River that exists in a cloud forest on a volcano, called Puracé, in southern Colombia. Each year, for one month, the rain clouds evaporate in the sunlight and thousands of exotic plants begin to flower. By chance, the source is close to the crater of this active volcano. When it erupts, the beautiful ecosystem around the source is obliterated. But the rain is constant, the river continues to come up from the ground, and life begins again. It is the kind of ecosystem that existed before humanity and that might exist millions of years from now.”

“When I painted this in 1998, I was thinking about our vulnerability in the face of global warming, deforestation and other man-made disasters.”

“Source of the Amazon” was exhibited at Bergamot Station, Santa Monica in 1999 and in London in 2010.


Artist Story:

Damian Elwes lives and works in Santa Monica, California. His paintings explore themes such as the cycle of life, creativity and the interconnectivity between all things. Damian was born in London into a family of artists. His father and grandfather were portrait painters. His ability in mathematics helped to gain him a place at Harvard University. There he took an interest in poetry and theater. As a graduation present, his playwriting professor gave him a palette knife that had once belonged to Henri Matisse. After college, he went to New York and was fascinated by the graffiti that was all over the streets. He bought a crate of spray paint and covered the interior and roof of an abandoned building on West 55th Street with imagery. Within a year, his paintings were being exhibited alongside those of Jean Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring at the Robert Fraser Gallery in the UK.

Damian went to live in Paris where he began making paintings of the studios of fellow artists. His interest in ancient and contemporary methods of art making then took him to Italy, Morocco, and Colombia. He built a house on the edge of a rainforest in southern Colombia, and he moved there with his wife, Lewanne.  During the next seven years, he created vast installations about the natural world. Currently, he lives in Santa Monica with his wife and two children, and he is working on a new series of paintings about coral reefs.




cynthia hirschhornart