Elena Gual is a Spanish artist whose work presents a strikingly contemporary approach to the traditional genre of portraiture, focused primarily on female subjects. A graduate of the Florence Academy of Art - as well as Central Saint Martins and the Royal Academy in London, where she now lives and works - her distinctive style is founded on her classical training, as reflected in the strong attention to light, colour and composition in her paintings.

 

Gual paints vibrant portraits of female figures encountered through her travels. Passionate about their stories and issues such as female equality, her work is a celebration of the aesthetic, spiritual and emotional beauty of women. ‘While drawing inspiration from my travels, I began to understand how women are often treated with so much inequality across many countries,’ Gual says. ‘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.'

 

Gual’s palette knife technique – a highly unique method of painting that began after she developed an allergy to turpentine – renders each of her subjects with a strongly human dimension. Her process spans numerous mediums: often working from photographic material, Gual begins with a charcoal drawing before she starts to apply thick strokes of impasto onto the canvas with a spatula. Waiting for each layer to dry before she can continue, the result is a sculptural textural effect that brings her subjects to life.