Elly Smallwood is a Toronto-based Canadian artist, famous for unique and intensively personal paintings that represent an exploration of her mind and the people that surround her. In her works, she tries to push the boundaries, leave the comfort zone, and in some way show the twisted version of herself, especially in regards to her body. Although her style is described as primarily figurative, she doesn’t let that to hold her back, so she creates whatever she feels at the moment. The focus of her works is mostly on the body itself, with the priority given to the face. There is a variety of themes such as sexuality, alienation, and intense emotion that emerge throughout her art, but in some cases, it is not strange to her to depict whatever fascinates her at the time.
Elly Smallwood’s Education and Creation Process
The artist was born in 1989 in Ottawa, Canada. In 2011 Smallwood graduated drawing and painting at the Ontario College of Art and Design. She never has a carefully composed concept in front of her, but rather intuition and ideas that end up as remarkable pieces. There are no words to describe the process of making because this exploration goes through the language of paint. In her earlier works, the author used to begin with a photograph and a few sketches, which she then translated to canvases. Lately, she paints directly onto canvas, letting the spontaneity and roughness to overcome the surface.
The author used to begin with photograph and a few sketches
Style and Influences
The influence in the artist’s artworks comes from the world she lives in. She often depicts subjects like female sexuality, LGBTQ sex, and fetishes, as they are part of her life. Her art is the reflection of her fascination with the humanity and her environment that she tries to capture in her art. Bold and messy brush strokes, alongside strong, rough and multi-layered oil colors, are used to give physical form, and to explore the distortion of the face through movement in her portraits. The painter gives an advantage to larger pieces as they contain dominant power and have the aggressive look, which is more appealing to the audience. Of course, from time to time she makes smaller, intimate and very personal pieces.
The painter gives advantage to larger pieces as they contain dominant power and have aggressive look
Directions for the Future
She also likes tattooing, as it is a special type of drawing that doesn’t leave much room for errors. The artist she admires most is Lucian Freud, because of the connection between the painter and the subject, which can be seen in his pieces. Her plans are to make abstract and strange things while still dedicated to the face and figure. Artist’s work is showed all around the world like at the Massey Lyuben Gallery in New York, the Hermann & Audrey or the Project Gallery in Toronto.
She is represented by the Galerie Benjamin Eck.
The artist lives and works in Toronto, Canada
Featured image: Elly Smallwood – in front of her artwork – photo courtesy of Galerie Benjamin Eck
All images used for illustrative purposes only
|2017||Winter Collective||Massey Lyuben Gallery, New York, USA||Group|
|2016||Winter Collective||Massey Lyuben Gallery, New York, USA||Group|
|2016||The Beauty I Hide||Hermann & Audrey, Toronto, Canada||Solo|
|2015||Embodiment||Artscape Youngplace, Toronto, Canada||Solo|
|2014||Small Works||Navillus Gallery, Toronto, Canada||Solo|
|2014||Bare||Goodfellas Gallery, Toronto, Canada||Solo|
|2013||Contemporary Countenance||Creatures Creating Gallery, Toronto, Canada||Group|
|2013||Heads Up||Cube Gallery, Ottawa, Canada||Solo|
|2012||The Christmas Group Show||Gallery Hittite, Toronto, Canada||Group|
|2012||The Gutterbird Exhibition||Hashtag Gallery, Toronto, Canada||Group|
|2011||Beyond Certainty– Flaws of Form||Propeller Gallery, Toronto, Canada||Solo|
|2011||The Show Off||OCAD, Toronto, Canada||Group|
|2010||OCAD 14th Annual Figure Show||OCAD, Toronto, Canada||Group|
|2010||Nuit Blanche Double Rainbow||Xpace, Toronto, Canada||Group|
|2010||The Next Big Thing||OCAD Student Gallery, Toronto, Canada||Group|