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Bret Easton Ellis
via @deanwest / Instagram

Bret Easton Ellis rips into LA with new art exhibition

The cult author has teamed up with artist Alex Israel for a special show at the Gagosian

Bret Easton Ellis has teamed up with artist Alex Israel for a new, LA-centric art exhibition at the Gagosian Beverly Hills.

The project, simply titled “Alex Israel/Bret Easton Ellis”, see’s the two creatives combine their mutual love for the sun-soaked city of angels: fusing Ellis’s poignant prose onto a series of stereotypical stock photos.

Featuring balmy, sunlit palm trees and soft skies, the shots look scarily like the dreamy motivational posts that clog up most people’s social feeds. On closer look, though, the cult author’s trademark cynicism begins to crash through the cliches. “I am going to be a very different kind of star,” reads one canvas. “The Hollywood Hills strangler was wearing Kundalini Hustle nail polish”, reads another. 

Dropping references to plastic surgery, Uber drivers, and the Chateau Marmont, the images feel a million miles away from Insta’s world of ‘pseudo-profound bullshit’. And, given that these kinds of posts have been linked to low intelligence, it’s easy to brush this show off as a bit of a piss-take. However, Ellis has revealed that his disdain for the city has settled over the years, and that the show is actually more of a twisted tribute. “I started writing sentences I thought were evocative, an extension of the characters I usually write about,” he told The Guardian. “They were dark at first, but Alex’s sensibility would merge with mine and they changed.”

“I don’t have a negative view of LA, I love the city,” added Ellis, who’s work often revisits the amorality of its residents. “I saw a darkness here that I was attracted to as a writer, as an observer, for my fiction. I was more pessimistic as an adolescent in the late 1970s and early 1980s, which informed my work. If I was writing about it today, it would be different.”

The show is currently showing at the Gagosian Beverly Hils until April 23rd. See a selection of the work below: