A solo exhibition by Elena Gual

Grove Square Galleries announced Aura (26 August – 24 September), a forthcoming solo exhibition of paintings by contemporary Spanish artist Elena Gual. Known for her striking female portraits, this series of twelve new paintings sees Gual draw on her vibrant palette and distinctive textural style to capture the emotional depth of her figures. Her work offers a colourful reflection on the inner lives and stories of her female subjects, invigorating the tradition of portraiture and its 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.

Elena Gual, Chelsea (2021). Oil on canvas. 130 x 97 cm.

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, also informed by the Impressionist style.

Elena Gual, Reflections 1, (2021). Oil on canvas. 65 x 53 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Grove Square Galleries.

Working initially from photographic material, Gual begins with a charcoal drawing before she starts to apply thick strokes of impasto onto the canvas with a spatula. Often working from oils created herself, this dedicated process requires Gual to wait for the layers of paint to dry before she can continue. The result is an almost sculptural textural effect that further animates the inner lives of her subjects. This is underscored by her graphic instinct for the emotional possibilities of colour, often inspired by her surroundings – from the sea of Mallorca to seasonal reflections.

‘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.’