(Outdoor) Orphans (2018-2020)

Sculptures from discarded paintings


The Orphan series is about loneliness and overproduction. In the Orphans we see how relatives deal with the legacy of their loved one. Ellens collected old paintings from deceased people to give them a new life. Through funeral directors and thrift stores, he managed to lay his hands on works that had become "orphaned" after their owner died. They did not end up in the living rooms with the sons or daughters, but the heir could not get it over their heart to throw away the painting either.

All these disregarded paintings that contain both the energy of the artist  as well as the attachment of the deceased owner ended up in damp basements, longing for a new owner who has not been showing up. It was precisely this dilemma that led Ellens to pull these works out of their damned corners and give them a new shape.

As orphans in an orphanage continue to hope that someone will come over who appreciates them and takes care of them, so these paintings kept hoping for a second life while stored at the many thrift shops around the country.

Apparently there is something within us that continues to long for a certain form of nostalgia, reconciliation with the past and care for our next of kin. The spirituality of the shape of the Orphans, and the timelessness (and musty smell :-) of the used material evoke this and give a feeling of resignation and inner silence to the public.


In 2020 the artist worked on preparing the Orphans for outdoor exhibitions, leading to five new sculptures a.k.a. Outdoor Orphans. One is currently in a private collection, another one is displayed at the Groene Afslag (Laren, NL). The three others are ready to be shipped abroad early 2021. 


The Orphan series was on display at the World Trade Center in Amsterdam from Januari 11th until March 31st 2018 and 10-14 October at the Bijlmer Bajes in Amsterdam during Big Art . April and May 2019 the Orphan series was on display in the group show House for sale in Apeldoorn. On display at Watou Kunstenfestival (Belgium)from June 29th 2019 onwards. On display at Play in Zaanstad from January 2020 onwards.  


Currently on display at Sculpture in the City 2021 in London (UK): https://www.sculptureinthecity.org.uk/artworks/orphans/




Limited edition Orphan C-prints (40x40cm) now available in the shop