Raheem Nelson

From The Elm to The Empire: The Inspirations

Jorge Colombo, David Hockney, and Edward Hopper were my main inspirations behind the creation of this book. The layout is loosely inspired by Jorge’s artbook of iPhone paintings, New York. In it he captured his perspective of the city. I was inspired to capture New Haven and New York since I travel back and forth between the two places.

Also I used many different experimental styles to achieve my vision. Jorge and I spoke at length about my progress when I curated From The Elm to The Empire. He was instrumental and provides me with a great jumping off point.

Being inspired by David Hockney wasn’t really a conscious decision. I think his vibrant sense of color found it’s way into my work late in the project. I visited Pace Gallery in NYC to see his iPad work on gigantic canvases. I think my landscape paintings became looser and more gestural after that. 

My art manager Barbara said two pieces in this book are reminiscent of Edward Hopper. Again, not intentional but after discovering his work a few years ago I can see the similarities. These two paintings were created in the same night at a billiards bar called Society. 

 The first was a painting of a shot of tequila and a pack of American Spirits cigarettes. I don’t smoke but there is something interesting about the way their branded. The color of the box played off the lemon in the glass of tequila. The second was a painting of the pool table and the football game that was being shown on the big screen above. 

 They’re called American Spirit and Society respectively and they capture the feeling of the entire project. I want you, the viewer to feel how I felt in that moment. Everything from the loud music in my ears to the fragments of conversation buzzing around me as I worked on these paintings. It’s all there if you look for it. 

 From The Elm to The Empire will be available to purchase on Lulu.com on April 13th. 

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