Writing & Publications

Wendy Elia

Paintings 2004 - 2016


Full colour catalogue now available on Amazon   


Introduction 'Myth-Making and Myth-Breaking: Wendy Elia and the Constitutive Other' written by Anna McNay - Art Writer and Editor


Essay - 'Migrant Histories and Art' written by Dr. Marie-Anne Mancio - Art Historian and Writer


A catalogue of paintings by Wendy Elia covering a decade of her work, with essays by Anna McNay and Dr. Marie-Anne Mancio which explore the content of the paintings.

January 2017


Published 18/01/2017 on studiointernational.com

Strange Worlds: The Vision of Angela Carter


To mark the 25th anniversary of Carter’s death, this exhibition brings together works that influenced the writer and works inspired by her, creating a visceral, violent and, at times, unpalatable celebration of magic realism and fairyland pornography


RWA, Bristol

10 December 2016 – 19 March 2017


By Anna McNay


Click here to read review on studiointernational.com >

Published on December 12, 2016 by Helena Raymond-Hayling and Jordan Barker

‘Pulsing with fire, energy, blood and sex’ – ‘Strange Worlds: The Vision of Angela Carter’ at RWA


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Histories in the Age of Confusion


Wendy Elia’s Histories in the Age of Confusion is a series of life-size portraits of women tied to the artist through friendship or familial connections. These paintings, and the smaller accompanying prints, explore issues of genetics, ethnicity, sexual politics, and what it means to be British at this juncture in the twenty-first century. But at the series’ heart lies the figure of the migrant.


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Hung, Drawn, and Reported


It is still with us, this naïve belief in the truth of the photograph. As I write, skeptics are clamoring for photographic proof of Osama bin Laden’s execution, as if this evidence could not be scanned (scammed), photoshopped, (super) imposed, as if an event can only occur if the camera bears witness.


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Painting by Wendy Elia


Wendy Elia works in series that explore the futile quest for truth in the digital age. Her interrogation of different modes of representation (from old Master paintings to black and white movies to contemporary images culled from 24-hour news channels) creates disconcerting narratives, loaded with symbols, that problematise a singular viewing position.


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It will happen when you least expect it.

By Dr. Marie-Anne Mancio


Wendy Elia works in series that explore the futile quest for truth. It Will Happen When You Least Expect It is both a threat and a promise. Referring equally to meeting one’s soul mate or facing one’s death, it collates some of the images invading our consciousness. Portable paintings are arranged into arbitrary, non-hierarchical groupings: here a triptych, there a solitary canvas...


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Discussions with Nichola Aindow


The point is, the paintings, acting as a mirror into the subject, have stripped us of a certain amount of control over the signifiers which we attach ourselves to, in order to prop the idea of ourselves up with...


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What is Truth?
By Kirsty Hall


"What is truth" said jesting Pilate and would not stay for an answer". This quotation from Bacon (Philosopher, not the painter) in Elia's painting "What is truth?" asks this and other unsettling questions. "Tell it as it is" continues this theme but shifts the field of enquiry from the textual to the visual allegory.


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What is Truth?
By Marie-Anne Mancio


Contemporary art's claim to be beyond metanarratives is frequently corrupted by new narratives of its own making (the irrelevance of figurative painting is a current favourite). In What is Truth! W. Elia proposes three alternative tongue-in-cheek solutions to what Derrida has called the truth in painting. Adopting different pictorial languages for each, Elia deploys postmodernist tactic in a call for renewed artistic responsibility to Tell Is As It Is!


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Half Naked
By Marie-Anne Mancio 2008


Given the (ab)use of the female nude as subject matter within painting, it’s legitimate to ask whether its representation is too problematic, too burdened with connotations of sexual objectification and the male gaze. These questions and an investigation of the female gaze lie at the core of Wendy Elia's practice. Her paintings of naked and half naked women, including a pre-op transsexual man, are almost life-size. Narratives are hinted at through objects (a champagne cork, a stormy sky), rooms, or titles (The Visit) reminding us these subjects are always more than mere lumps of flesh. Staring back at us, refusing to be passive, they confront us with our own voyeurism. As exemplified by Maxime's large, male feet squeezed into high-heeled shoes, these images are never comfortable.

©Marie-Anne Mancio 2008

Half Naked
By Nichola Jane Aindow


"Philosophy is revealed not by good sense but by paradox." Giles DeLeuze

Exposed breasts and vaginas, women being looked at, women gazing out inviting the viewer to come and look, all this at first glance, that moment where visual stimulus finds a position to settle itself within the mind. But, something is different, something is wrong..


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My interest in your work springs from the extremes it represents in how people view their identities and this is something that is bound up in the sporting psyche - capturing the complexity of extremes?" The curator had picked up a revealing notion i think; “How people view their identities”. You are also on the mark with the Cartesian split in reference to this, and if you don’t know much about this, then of course, stay away. However, what the pictures can allow you to discuss are this very division of 1. Image,: both experienced (by the subject) and perceived again by the subject but this time with a hope of “becoming) 2. The difference between the above two = imaginary construct of the sitter. This is the point where Wendy interjects. With the cut of the brush, the subject becomes exposed. 3. Which allows us to consider: an opportunity to perceiving the subject as a vessel, through the image (the painted one) 4. which (and this is the interesting point for me here in relation to your work, is that you have allowed the sitters(us, nicky, Alex, ) a glimpse into a cold mirror where, devoid of sexuality, life, perhaps, and in effect the desired image of ourselves (as for example great sports people representing dynamism, mastery and power) we see the inverse of our desire, perhaps the deathly image of that we are trying so hard to avoid with our original identities. The point is, the paintings, acting as a mirror into the subject, have stripped us of a certain amount of control over the signifiers which we attach ourselves to, in order to prop the idea of ourselves up with. In capturing the vulnerability (which works well in discussing the extreme opposite of such sporting ideals) you have created an exposure on the symbolic prosthesis that is “the sporting psyche”,. The sporting psyche exercises such obsession with greatness in order to counter the very thing Wendy reveals (and the sitters have thus in fact ALLOWed Wendy to capture). This allowing, for me, invokes another dimension regarding the sensation of vulnerability. The willingness to look into the cold mirror, the heartless mirror that offers an image no less of one’s own death, (a death in life). It creates a sense of melancholy, desiring something that one does not really know what has gone missing. Also, an uncomfortable sensation (in relation to the extreme opposites of the sporting psyche of strength and its opposite vulnerability) is the un-nerving sensation of impotent images of strength. It represents the failed promise, disappointment, castration, anxiety and again death, all through the unrelenting reflection of the cold mirror. (I have made the “cold mirror” up by the way). Again these are singular aspects which maybe you could open and explore with an area that you feel happier discussing. I have chosen to stick to the point that the curator (the chief dude) makes, that which it seems he/she is inviting you to discuss. The main element I have picked up here is the seemingly visible, yet crucially and always invisible, divide between the experience of our own image and the one external to us which we reach for to try to align ourselves to. I feel your pictures float around the boundaries of the two layers, as they are superimposed upon one another. The two images, of course never truly align and there is always that awkward disavowal of the knowledge that “I know, but all the same” ( I will veil myself with the image, no less, for it serves a purpose. The mirror shows us that the veil serves a purpose, and so the nakedness is not the sitters, it is therefore ourselves (this I feel I have mentioned before. You in fact provide a cold mirror for everyone by situating us in the middle of the link between image and meaning. Lost. Forever. Death, darling, death.

Observer Article

By Patrick Hughes


"There is a splendidly ambitious painting by Wendy Elia in an exhibition of her work at Portland Design Associates, 90-92 Great Portland Street, London W1 (until 14 November). Her 'A Dance to the Music of Time' is a big canvas starring, I imagine, herself in a cadium green tutu against some ultramarine skies, asking what is in the picture that is in the painting, and what is in the room where the floorboards are up and the wooden ibises are everywhere. The disaster of the Turner Prize is that this kind of personal vision has no place."

Sunday 6th December, 1992


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