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Picasso, Her Dalmatian, as a Muse for the Next Show

29/04/2013 14:51 BST | Updated 29/06/2013 10:12 BST

Picasso's Pack is the next solo show by Elinor Evans opening at the Signal Gallery in Shoreditch, London, on the 16th of May. Evans recreates domestic scenes and uses animal masks to explore the way we interact in groups, or packs as she says. It reminds us of The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie film by the Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel. In one scene, at a dinner party, they discovered that there is an audience watching them centre stage in a theatre. They become the watched ones rather than the watchers. Elinor's new show makes you feel like that: a spectator of ourselves.

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As Elinor Evans says:

"In this series of paintings I´ve engaged with my muse, Picasso, my Dalmation, to investigate the ancestors of the species ¨canus lupus familiarus¨ , that is, The Wolf and The Jackal. I´ve taken a new approach by making the masks in the paintings of the wolves and the jackals by hand. This adds a primitive touch to the paintings."
Konrad Lorenz, the well-known, animal behaviourist, has also influenced these paintings. He gives an account, in `Man Meets Dog`, of the first encounters of primitive human species with the Wolf and the Jackal and how they came to show the first signs of domestication. He describes how the golden Jackal (Canis aureus) may have been the first canine to attach itself to man in pre-historic times. And it may even have been a lone child who, while her parents were out hunting, hearing the whimpering of an abandoned jackal cub in the wild, adopted him and became his surrogate mother. In her new works, Elinor explores these relationships - with the human characters adopting their canine roles by wearing masks. The effect is stunningly playful and definitely disquieting. Many of the works make reference to earlier portraiture, particularly to that of the eighteenth century. The formality of some of the compositions, combined with her wonderfully confident and spontaneous brushwork and the mysterious masks, creates totally unique and fascinating results.

When I asked Chris Garlick, the Signal Gallery co-director, how they got interested in Elinor's works and invited her to exhibit at the gallery, he says:

"We discovered Elinor's work at an art fair about five years ago. Two stunning pieces occupied a prime spot near the Champagne Bar. They could be seen from everywhere. Her wonderfully free and and confident use of colour shone through. The bold figures, both formal and sexily informal, were beautifully alive. Most of all we responded to the spontaneous confidence of her brushwork. One could instantly feel that Elinor was a very special artist who had created a figurative style for the 21st Century that is potent and approachable".

Elinor has shown extensively in London, in her native Wales and in Spain where she now lives. Her work is to be found in the collections of a number of important collectors. She has won a number of prestigious awards, including Fine Art Award at the National Eisteddfod in Wales. This will be her second solo show at Signal Gallery.

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The Pack After The Hunt by Elinor Evans