Elliot Jack Stew graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2018 with a Fine Art first class honours degree and has exhibited throughout London; most notably in ‘SURGE 2018’, Somerset House, and his work has been selected for Auction with ‘AucArt’. Elliot is also a co-founder of the ‘Collective Cuba Project’ residency in Havana, Cuba.
For me the act of painting is very physical, there is something engaging about every action having a definitive consequence. Every decision is a continuation of the last and all the mistakes and triumphs happened, and have permanence. For me there are clear parallels between creating a painting and living life. Being diagnosed as HIV positive in the 1st year of my degree shaped who I am. I have since focussed on the issues around a HIV positive existence, the weight of the situation has allowed my practise to challenge my position as an artist surrounded by the social stigma concerning HIV.
I use painting as a vessel to discuss the sentimentality and impracticality of life, my paintings are a narration of the world we live in and how we alter as we travel along; diaristic in nature my practise becomes a tool for self-reflection. I collect images and through combining these collected images with painting I am able to re-invent their narratives and allow these images to challenge the mythology surrounding contemporary HIV and question our understanding of sickness.
I don’t consider my work to be social activism, the paintings are not a call to arms and any statements made are rooted in personal experience. Through creating autobiographically, I am able to capture intimacies and utilise the medium of paint to present them as stories.
My current practice addresses the developing narrative of the AIDS epidemic, where historic and current debates are revised through a constantly shifting political, social and technological landscape. My painting practice investigates the switch between the private and the public; how an individual’s unique personal narrative can simultaneously occupy a space of a collective feeling and ownership painting as an activity becomes a way to embrace failure, contingency and unpredictability. Through this I present the possibility of both an exposed awkwardness, yet intimacy with a viewer.