22 Nov 2012
Elena Garcia de la Fuente is an artist who conjures with paint. She takes a simple family group in a familiar setting and makes it into something magical. The pictures have a stillness and a strange quality of silence as if we are seeing the last moment of one life before something dramatic happens to change things forever. The tranquillity is deceptive; it is the time between one tick of the clock and the next. It is a world waiting. This drama is heightened not with ferocious brush work but by extraordinary detail. The sunlight itself in these bright compositions is subversive. Parents walk, children play, friends talk, the world about them is beautiful, but it seems to be that last happy moment before ‘boo.’
Similarly with her portraits Elena works a strange magic. When I saw the picture of her father I thought I knew him although we’d never met. She connects by capturing that one moment, that one expression that is that person and she puts it down in paint; the edge of a smile, the tiny physical moment of one mood moving to another. I’d love to see her do a series of people on the cusp of sneezing. Elena’s portraits, like her group paintings, have intimacy and humour. You feel this is a painter who likes people, but only when they are being themselves. Not for her phoney status and stiff upper lip, her Prince Charles giggles – and he looks all the better for it.
Elena’s style is unique; I recognise her pictures as Elena’s instantly. I know of no other artist who paints like her. She hasn’t submerged her talent into a school or movement with a facile message. Elena has the courage to paint her own way and that comes through as an artist looking - not judging, listening - and not preaching.