Ellannah Sadkin Returns To New York For First Solo Exhbition

Ellannah Sadkin’s bold abstract paintings speak for themselves – borrowing familiar line and shape from cartoon characters to explore emotions in her own psyche. But the shy New York Brit was destined for greatness, following a lineage of creative powerhouses that have influenced her over the years. Her father was the late Alex Sadkin, a successful music producer that worked largely with Grace Jones, Bob Marley, James Brown and Duran Duran to name a few – in fact Nick Rhodes from Duran Duran is her godfather. Sadkin studied under the tutelage of two big name artists – KAWS and Ben Eine, who inspired her art making.

But despite these notable names that surround her, Sadkin has decided to make her own path. She secluded herself in a cabin in Woodstock for nearly three years to focus on perfecting a body of paintings, that she is now sharing in her first New York solo exhibition, Toonology, at The Pivot Gallery on October 27. We sat down with the young artist to get the back-story on her inspirations and influences.

When did you decide to make a career of art making?

I have always been artistic. I never saw being an artist as a viable career path- it didn’t really make sense to me. My grandfather lived and worked as an artist but I know he struggled his whole life. When I was 23 I had just dropped out of art school, realizing that graphic design was not for me, and trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life. It was then that my godfather (Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes) was flipping though my sketch-book and said I should make a go at being a professional artist. As soon as I started painting everyday my world fell into place. I knew then that this is what I had to do.

You grew up between New York and the UK, what are some fond memories that shaped your creative side?

Everything downtown used to be covered in graffiti, which as a kid was amazing stimulation. The first time I saw a friend doing graffiti I thought “What the hell is he doing?” but it left a real imprint on my mind.  I used to go and sit and watch some of the more eccentric homeless dudes in Washington square park with great fascination when I was young. I remember the guy who dressed as a cave man talking to another guy dressed as a wizard and was thinking this is real living. I wasfascinated by New York. England on the other hand was not so interesting. They didn’t even celebrate Halloween they thought it was devil stuff. When I went back the kids all thought I was a weirdo. I didn’t care.

You’ve spent the last three years in semi-isolation in Woodstock to work on your art work. Do you think solitude is the way to develop creativity?

By cutting myself off for nearly three years I got a lot of work done and felt the most creative I’ve ever been. There is nothing going on in Woodstock so you have to work. Im happier in NYC as I have more of a life. I appreciate everyone who walks past me on the street, they seem so full of life.

Has your dad’s musical career influenced your paintings?

My dad’s career influenced me in the fact that he was one of the hardest working guys in the business and he was a genius and a really nice guy. He the best role model anyone can ask for. I have no actual memories of him but I hear stories from other people which make me realize how blessed I am to be part of him. He was an oceanographer before he became a producer, I heard that he played a shark in one of the James Bond films. He had to swim about with a fin on his back. I found a some diary pages that James Brown had written in my dad’s files. James Brown had written that only my dad really understood him. His stories make me realize how important it is to have stories of your own- to really experience life.

Can you tell us a bit about your show, Toonology?

Toonology is my first solo show in New York. It’s a mix of work I’ve made over the last few years where I’ve been exploring comic abstraction and how it relates to my own inner workings. I have found cartoons a great way to explore aspects of myself and the human psyche. I believe the only way society works is because we all hide behind these 2d representations of ourselves.

For more information on the upcoming showcase, please visit http://www.ellannahsadkin.com

Words by Lori Zimmer