David Lusk Gallery Memphis / 97 Tillman St. October 10, 2023 - November 18, 2023

Don Estes

This October David Lusk Gallery Memphis is pleased to present TALL TALES, SHORT STORIES by Don Estes. Exploring paintings he made years ago, Estes references abstractions in ancient writing styles inscribed on damp clay using a pointed tool.

Estes is recognized for harmonious, dimensional abstract paintings on panel of geological formations and the landscape of the American South. Varying the intensity of pigment and incorporating a wide range of textures, he layers dry pigment, pastel, and gesso in horizontal bands, distorting the sections’ boundaries with blurred, nebulous color and shapes.

TALL TALES, SHORT STORIES explores abstract qualities and complexities of cuneiform writing. Cuneiform, meaning “wedge-shaped,” defines a system of writing, one of the most widespread and historically significant, used in the ancient Middle East. He hones in on strong formal elements of ancient writing styles - line, shape, and form - to extract the visual qualities of texts. By creating a visual language with his paintings, Estes reflects on one of humans’ earliest forms of communication and recenters us to a more thoughtful way of connecting.

Revisiting work he made years ago, Estes maintains his perspective on environments, evoking the sensation of looking at cave walls or mountain facades, surrounding the viewer with elements of the earth. Titles such as ARTIFACT and DISCOVERY speak to the unearthed, mysterious qualities inherent to early writing forms and tablets in southern Mesopotamia and abstract Neanderthal cave paintings, such as those in the Andalusian Cave of Ardales. Estes’ sharp, rough marks in the dry textures and waving rows of small blocks of paint mirror the carved and painted abstractions.

Don Estes received his BFA and MFA from the University of Memphis. Estes has participated in exhibitions in Boston, New York, Nashville, Austin, and Amsterdam. His work is in the collections of Duncan Williams, Inc., Memphis; Harvest Group, LLC, Memphis; Iberia Bank Memphis Headquarters; NSA Corporate Headquarters, Collierville, TN; Memphis Brooks Museum of Art; Mercury Investment Management, Memphis; NexAir, Memphis; Regions Insurance, Memphis; and Wunderlich Securities, Memphis, among others. He was an original founder of Number: A Quarterly of the Visual Arts, as well as a pioneer of the South Main Arts District. His Second Floor Contemporary Gallery (1999-2005) was an important non-commercial art space for new work by regional and national artists.

David Lusk Gallery is located at 97 Tillman St in Memphis, TN. Gallery hours are Tu - Sa 10a - 5p. For more information or images, please contact Lees Romano at lees@davidluskgallery.com or 615-780-9990

Image: Artifact, mixed media on panel, 36x42, 2023