- artist statement -
Elena Njoabuzia Onwochei-Garcia’s practice of large-scale installations of oil paint- ings explores how the dynamics between people are shaped by what appears to be real and the possibilities of fiction. The immersive triptychs implicate the viewers and their bodies into the setting in order to emphasise and discomfort the connection between the spectator, painting, and subject. Once situated within the walls of washi paper the spectator is caught within a network of relations which are defined by histories that interfere with and charge their interactions. The arrangement of her works simulates the psychological landscape of the painting’s narrative and her distortion of the visual field makes the viewer’s relationship to the painting perceptible as their observation becomes based on movement.
Her work is inspired by the practice of researching history: understanding how sub- jectivity creates contradictions in the narration of events. She draws on psychological, literary and historical analysis of fiction to construct and play out refuted experiences. The compositions, photomontages and entanglements of historical and popular images and narratives, focus on the elements affecting the character’s behaviours. The layers of paint and narratives intertwine fables and falsehoods - allegories emerge and retreat.
- biography -
Onwochei-Garcia (Spanish-British) is a figurative painter and installation artist based in the UK. Elena completed a Figurative Oil Painting Diploma in Rome whilst reading History and Art History BA at Durham University. She has featured in group exhibi- tions Short Lapses, Long Rolls, in Saltspace Glasgow, Royal British Society of Artists Rising Starts of 2022, English Heritage’s national exhibition, Painting our Past: The African Diaspora in England, at the Corbridge Museum and The Africa Centre in Lon- don 2021, and Quantos A4 cabem no Á-Quatro in Barreiro, Lisbon, 2020, amongst others. Onwochei-Garcia was recently shortlisted for the Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2023 and is the 2021 recipient of the Leverhulme Master of Fine Art Bursary.
- Testimonials -
“Painting our Past is a cleverly conceived, multi-site exhibition through which English Heritage aims to highlight little-known black figures associated with the more than 400 properties in its care.” - Jane Ure-Smith, Prospero, The Economist, 6 July 2021
“I was compelled to speak about mothers in honour of Elena Onwochei- Garcia’s delectable paintings—their dominating dance of figures and limbs and faces—their tableaux of women and gargoyles and daughters and monsters. In Elena’s painting we are confronted by an entanglement of myths and maybes, shadows emerging into the story and retreating again, never not quite true. Layers work like skins, taut over bodies and years and versions we have heard but cannot fully align” - Kate Holford, art writer, co-founder of Stillpoint Magazine, 2023.
Brown, Mark. ‘Paintings Reveal Hidden Histories of Africans in England | Art | The Guardian’. Accessed 28 May 2023. https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2021/jun/09/paintings-reveal-hidden-histories-of-africans-in-england.
Campbell, Joel. ‘Exhibition: The African Diaspora in England’. Voice Online, 9 June 2021. https://www.voice-online.co.uk/entertainment/2021/06/09/exhibition-the-african-diaspora-in-england/.
Gigante, Francisca, and Francisco Teles da Gama. ‘Star Portraits". FITA Magazine Vol. III — Fita’. Accessed 28 May 2023. https://friendsinthearts.net/FITA-Magazine-Vol-III.