Elsie's Homepage @Parnasse.com
Born in 1956 in Nevers, France of French and American painter parents, mother Andree Descharnes, Beaux Arts trained classical still life painter, father Alfred Russell, professor of art and abstract expressionist "The Club" member - who rebelled and later became a figurative painter of Hellenistic Hells, chaotic falling figures interacting with Euclidean solids in landscapes based on the topologies of black holes and existentialist limbos.
Elsie was raised and schooled in America, France, Spain and Italy and vowed in the sacred groves of Diana to become an artist while living in Italy on the shores of Lake Nemi. This was at a time when art and god were quite dead and the myths, mere shadows. Finding neither instruction nor understanding, but only ridicule and cynical prejudice, Elsie embarked on a course of self- study, learning the way of the old masters through deduction and observation and researching the beliefs of pre-Christian cultures, whom she believes were right all along. She was encouraged by her parents who were both master artists and enlightened philosophically and by Salvador Dali, a good friend of her family's.
Elsie Russell is one half of the art/activist collaborative, IdEAL ORDER and with her spouse Jeff Harrington have employed techniques including telepathy, graffiti art and mail art in their joint anarchist work.
The goddess of the earth, the mother of us all, stands on her planet which is cradled by the three-headed dragon of universal energy. She bestows upon Pan, god of wild nature, the mysterious secret of music which is symbolized in the reeds behind him and from which he fashions the pan flute, its haunting sound echoing throughout the untamed world. Also master of the untamed world and musical messenger for Gaia is Jimi Hendrix, shown here in exaltation. Behind him, standing guard to his queen is the Green Man - ancient European deity of the virgin forest. His menacing eye warns humanity of the terrible consequences which will befall our world if we don't honor him and the vegetation of the planet. Attending Gaia is the Cretan Snake Goddess - goddess of the life force - the Zoe of Ancient Greece, the Tao of the Chinese, the Yoga Kundalini (serpent power of India). She holds and hypnotizes the left and right powers of energy - right brain/left brain, feminine/masculine, night/day - maintaining the equilibrium needed for growth. Staggering onto the scene is the first and last god, Dionysus, god of intoxication, chaos, ecstacy but also of freedom and spontaneity.
The Return of Dionysus - 1987-89, oil on linen, 48x60
Dionysus, god of the vine of freedom, ecstacy, passion returned from his wanderings to a feast in preparation. He is accompanied by his trusty companions, Ariadne, his love, Silenus, his drunken teacher and the various satyrs and maenads who follow him in carefree abandon on his never-ending journeys through the countryside of Arcady.
Skull and Boots, II - 1990, oil on canvas, 16x20
This allegorical vanitas is a mediation on life and the walk towards death, the vanity of youth and health, the pain and frustration of illness and the cry for help, the hope in the white wing of the handkerchief and the skull facing towards the future, the boots ready to march steadily onward.
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