ELENA GUAL - AND THE POWER OF HER ENIGMATIC FEMALE PORTRAITS
Art and photography by Elena Gual.
Known for her expressive palette knife techniques and inimitable contemporary paintings, Elena Gual creates a powerful abstract series of female portraits. We spoke to the talented emerging artist about her heritage, her painting approach and her advice to anyone striving to stay creative
Words: Aleksandra Georgieva
Art and Photography: Elena Gual
03 November 2020
In the current climate the human condition is put to a test and art becomes an antidote to our everyday struggles. The symbiotic relationship between art and a progressive state of mind has never been on display in a more vivid way than it has been in the past few months. While many artists currently struggle to practice their crafts, it becomes undeniable that humans need creativity more than anything to survive times of uncertainty. On the path to becoming the next big artist, Elena Gual is the name that is bound to shine brighter with every inimitable painting she crafts.
London-based, Elena Gual is a Spanish contemporary portrait artist, whose unique palette knife paintings reflect a distinctive style while telling the stories of a diversity of women that have inspired her life and travels. Before joining a course in the Royal Academy in London, Elena’s classical training took her to Saint Martin’s School of Art. She had also graduated from the Florence Academy of Art where she spent three years mastering the academic drawing approaches of some of the greatest Renaissance painters in history. Elena’s education introduced her to the classical understandings of light, colours, composition, skin tones, cultures and anatomy, which she transformed through contemporary approaches into the key themes in her own inimitable style of painting.
“I like to say that my style is a mix of eras and centuries mixed in one to fit in the one we are currently living.”
Elena Gual for NOMADSofORIGIN Magazine
Elena Gual’s talent stretches beyond the classical narrative of art as a craft that fills life with beautiful aesthetics. Her vibrant paintings put an emphasis on women's significance in our society regarding equality. At the same time, Elena’s entrepreneurial talent trails a path of inspiration for many dynamic young women to follow. Her influence appeals to over 185,000 social media followers, while her undeniable talent and hard work gathered the attention of the Grove Square Galleries. The artistic world is faced with unprecedent investors demand, much of which gravitates towards talented emerging artists, whose work’s value is set to increase in the next five years. Elena Gual’s value at investment level sets her at the forefront of global collectors’ interest.
Known for her expressive palette knife techniques, adding unique texture to the otherwise inimitable contemporary paintings, Elena Gual creates powerful abstract series of enigmatic female portraits. We spoke to the talented emerging artist about her heritage, her painting approach and her advice to anyone striving to stay creative today.
NOMADSofORIGIN: Your paintings have a unique style. How did you develop such an original approach to painting, and do you find it challenging to maintain originality?
Elena: I studied at the Florence Academy of Art for three years, where I learned the techniques of the Old Masters in Classical paintings, my intention was never to become a realistic painter, but apply these techniques learnt in my future work. Once I graduated, I went back home, where I decided to experiment while carrying on with my classical portrait commissions, so I could make an income at the same time. While doing this I was still painting with brushes, but one day I had developed an allergic reaction to white spirit (a solvent used with brushes to paint with and to clean them with) which led me to think of other ways to paint without the use of it, so it was then when I started using palette knives. I was painting with the technique I knew but only substituting one material for another.
Originality was easily reached as this was very knew for me, therefore I carried on experimenting until reaching a form that connected with me, nowadays I find it very difficult to carry on with being creative, but I try to go to different contemporary art courses that help me learn how to think in new ways to carry on developing my own style.
NOMADSofORIGIN: What inspires your paintings?
Elena: Since a very young age Impressionists are definitely the artists that have mostly inspired me from becoming one to my most recent style of art. But I find that what led me to choose my main topic was travelling. I have been lucky enough to meet really strong women from all over the world, who had a very big impact in my work.
NOMADSofORIGIN: You moved from Spain to the UK to gain more artistic knowledge and exposure. How do you think England helped you grow as an artist?
Elena: My hometown has a beautiful history and great artists have enriched themselves from its nature, however I felt I had to get out of my comfort zone and get to know the art market as well as being able to attend more art courses. London's art scene is so diverse and full of possibilities that as an emerging artist I could not have thought of a better option. I now still work in the city, at Grove Square Galleries.
NOMADSofORIGIN: What do you implement in your work that comes from your Spanish roots?
Elena: I feel that my Spanish character is well reflected in every painting, the use of loud colours and bold palette knife strokes are a true representation of my culture, as well as my input on making every painting passionate for the viewer.
NOMADSofORIGIN: Congratulations on your collaboration with the Grove Square Gallery! Considering today’s unprecedent times and how much you have achieved as an artist, what is your advice to the people who strive to be creative today?
Elena: Thank you, I am so lucky I got to end up working with them! I had been working by myself for four years before starting with any gallery, so my best advice would be for artist not to give up after many no´s before achieving one of their goals, it takes time to achieve this, but with a lot of work and following what you really want it is only a matter of time for you to reach them.
NOMADSofORIGIN: You are a self-taught photographer. How do you experience the connection between photography and painting and how do you think the two co-exist in today’s world of art and social media?
Elena: It got to a point in my career that I had to decide which photograph was worth reflecting onto a painting and which was enough as it was. There are pictures that I even constantly decide to join, or to paint from 3 at a time, so the portrait that comes out in my canvas it's not as static as in a photograph and it has more depth to it.
In today's world there are way more photographers and way more painters, it is harder to stand out, therefore I feel that artists working in this field can draw attention by showing emotion and reflecting it in what they do, we have to look for a way to make people stop for a few seconds at our piece, and today that is one of the hardest things to achieve, making the audience pause.
NOMADSofORIGIN: You say that you build on the techniques of classic painters and academic work to create your own unique approach and representation of anatomy, composition, and light. How would you describe your own style?
Elena: I like to say that my style is a mix of eras and centuries mixed in one to fit in the one we are currently living. A Renaissance drawing with colours and textures from the Impressionists with a contemporary approach.
NOMADSofORIGIN: How long does it take to complete a painting?
Elena: Every painting takes me a different timing to complete, I could take from 3 weeks to complete a small one to only four days to do a big one or vice versa, this is because of the struggles I could come upon with while doing the piece but the most time consuming is the process behind each piece, the idea, composition or choice of colours.
NOMADSofORIGIN: Do you accept commissions, or all your work is sold on demand?
Elena: I rarely do, currently I try to connect with the viewer by my own choice of topic.
NOMADSofORIGIN: Thank you for this interview! Is there something that you would like to add?
Elena: Thank you so much for your interest in my art, it means a lot that your magazine wanted to have me as part of it.
Photography: Aura House
Photography: Aura House
View the paintings online
See below some of the portraits we love. Follow Elena on social media.
NOMADSofORIGIN x Elena Gual