Saatchi Yates

Elena Garrigolas

1st November - 17th December

Saatchi Yates presents a debut solo exhibition by Spanish artist Elena Garrigolas. The presentation will include 17 new works depicting an eclectic array of visceral and bewildering imagery. Taking inspiration from dreamscapes, internet culture, and personal experience, Garrigolas twists banal scenes into outlandish and confronting self-portraits.

Growing up in a religious family and attending Catholic school, Garrigolas was encouraged to suppress her feelings and ignore the physical embodiment of her being. In retaliation to this upbringing, Garrigolas’ practice confronts traumatic experiences and personal vulnerabilities. Her surrealist subjects include anthropomorphic characters that explore themes around motherhood, ageing and beauty. Inspired by a historical trajectory of feminist artists such as Frida Khalo, Miriam Cahn, Nancy Spero and Paula Rego, Garrigolas uses self-portraiture and absurd satirical scenes, to explore darker themes of personal pain. Describing humour as a ‘defence mechanism’, Garrigolas’ creative practice allows her to explore deeply personal issues without being vulnerable.

“I talk about the pain and trauma of my own body. I come from a religious family, I went to an all girls Catholic school. They teach you not to desire your body, to hide it, like it doesn’t exist. Every- thing I paint is an attempt to deal with this. In real life, I don’t have control over how I am perceived, or how I perceive myself. When I paint, I can choose what to show, and it’s a way of healing.” - Elena Garrigolas.

Garrigolas's practice is undeniably inspired by the intensity of Francisco Goya’s disturbing images. In conversation with Maria Dragoi, Garrigolas cites Goya as a major influence in her work, whose Catholic beginnings and royal portraiture turned towards the dark and macabre, that was led by personal struggles and geopolitical happenings. Further to historical references, Garrigolas’ work explores contemporary internet culture, specifically the current crazed interest in memes. Much like the humorous memes posted and circulated anonymously online, Garrigolas creates intense snapshots, purpose-fully ambiguous in meaning in order to explore issues more privately, like a visual diary.

“My generation is also always online, and what you find online is very strange - however, something I like is that I think our humour hasn’t changed. I love the marginalia in medieval manuscripts, they’re filled with hybrid creatures or genitalia with faces - it’s the same kind of thing you see with people photoshopping ridiculous collages. It feels like a really nice full-circle moment. History repeats itself. I want memes to be incorporated more into art - when I feel sad I don’t want to look at hyperrealistic things, I want to look at strange things online.” - Elena Garrigolas.