Wendy Elia

Wendy Elia RWA is a highly successful and unapologetic painter. A finalist in the National Portrait Gallery London BP portrait award no less than 4 times, she has won many awards and commissions from prestigious institutions such as the Pollock-Krasner Foundation and has been widely exhibited and collected.

Best known for her huge oils on canvas, purposefully matching the grandeur of the old masters/mistresses, Elia’s unshakeable works, that are technically executed and packed with symbolism and academia, continue to engage up to the highest level.

Elia notably works in series, intoxicated by her subject until she has personally exhausted it both mentally and physically on the canvas, often only to return to it and begin again years later.

Her subjects are mostly her friends and acquaintances, or familiar images from film, art or history. Elia studies them on a level beyond themselves making them tools for discussion. Often naked but not studies of the flesh, the works strip people of their personality leaving the viewer to question their own reactions. The onlooker is made awkward by their personal preconceptions and stereotypes, their subjective narrative. Her paintings of women become unflinching feminist portrayals by nature and not design.

“….the work is generally about identities and how we perceive them and indeed might invent and manipulate them. I have no interest in capturing someone’s ‘inner personality’ or character….”

Utilising a classical style and often subject matter to comment on contemporary society and the cyclical nature of historical and political events and themes. The familiarity of iconic images acknowledged simply and readily by the viewer, through Elia’s seemingly effortless skill at reproducing sections of complex classical oil paintings, portraits and film stills, trick us into the reassurance of recognition as we depict the subjects. However, Wendy Elia has a lot more to say than simply paying homage.

Often unapologetically unsettling, yet disturbingly beautifully executed, her works become scenes that completely engross us in often complex or uncomfortable narratives.  By appropriating politically and emotionally charged images from classical art history and placing them into a contemporary art context, Elia creates a brand new dialogue commenting on our times and highlighting that the long passage of time only serves to prove the fallacy of progress.

Wendy Elia’s huge portfolio will continue to throw up questions well after our time.

View Wendy Elia’s latest solo show Just Saying! HERE

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