Known for her striking female portraits, this series of twelve new paintings sees Spanish artist Elena Gual draw on her vibrant palette and distinctive textural style to capture the emotional depth of her figures. Offering a colourful reflection on the inner lives and stories of her female subjects, Gual invigorates the tradition of portraiture and its powerful potential to communicate and connect.
With works variously titled Resilience, Self-Love and Awakening, Gual’s painting is centred around emotional experiences that are inherently female and yet resonate universally with the viewer. Born in Spain and based in London, with time spent living in Africa and India, her work engages with the myriad realities of being a woman worldwide – as both reflected in her subjects and her own artistic identity. Applying her uniform signature style to different portraits, Gual’s work equalises the experiences of these women, inviting the viewer to be embraced by the emotional realities expressed in her painting. This new series also sees Gual introduce multiple figures into individual works, who together become representative of a single emotional dynamic.
Trained as a painter at the Florence Academy of Art, followed by courses at Central Saint Martin’s and the Royal Academy in London, Gual developed her unique palette knife technique after developing an allergy to turpentine. Her process remains grounded in the principles of her classical training, with each of her portraits demonstrating a strong attention to colour, light and composition. These techniques combine to form an almost sculptural textural effect, further animating the inner lives of her subjects and underscored by her graphic instinct for the emotional possibilities of colour.
‘While drawing inspiration from my travels, I began to understand how women are often treated with so much inequality across many countries,’ says Gual. ‘My goal is to focus on these women, highlight their shapes, beauty and persona; I want to evoke their aura and I strive for the viewer to appreciate them and their emotions as much as I do.”