In artist Ellie Hoskins’s work, a playful and naive mixed media practice is complicated by layers of subtle references. Through diary pages, fine-lined sketches, collages, and sculptures, Hoskins weaves her inspirations into her work. The result is a stream-of-consciousness that, like a Tumblr feed, wanders off the screen, wavering between deeply personal and universal.
Hoskins’s appropriated images use cut-out stills from Hollywood films like Frances Ha, The Truman Show, and Little Miss Sunshine, as well as a photo of Polish performance artist Zbigniew Warpechowski’s 1971 work Drawing in the Corner. In this piece, Warpechowski is seen squeezed into the corner of a gallery space, awkwardly reaching up behind him to draw haphazard black strokes on the white walls. In one sense, he is positioning himself as a work of art, marking his territory within the art institution. On the other hand, the work draws attention to Warpechowski’s embodiment, suggesting perhaps the futility of an artist attempting to immerse themselves fully into a work.
On the page opposite the Warpechowski photo, Hoskins has scrawled what looks like a spider. This image mirrors the spidery lines scratched on the gallery wall; it also brings to mind Louise Bourgeois’s 1994 work Spider. There are nods to Bourgeois throughout Hoskins’s work: an oversized sculpture of a limp, bruised-looking hand recalls Bourgeois’ frequent use of hands as motifs, as well as works like her Single II which feature suspended, disproportionate bodies.
As in Bourgeois’s work (the artist Sarah Lucas is another appropriate reference), a mundane, almost childlike body horror is a key focus for Hoskins. And yet, for work that deals so often with bodies, Hoskins’s art feels curiously intangible, more like records of half-remembered nightmares than an effort to convey any sense of embodiment. Her colorful, abstract drawings suggest deformed cell structure diagrams, and her human figures are contorted, stretched out or scaled down in uncomfortable ways, sometimes with indistinguishable faces, bird-like limbs, missing features.
Viewed as a collection on her portfolio website, Hoskins’s body of work forms the disparate sort of self-portrait often constituted elsewhere online by image-based blogs and Instagram feeds—found items from other artists combine with Hoskins’s own work to form one chaotic whole.