Elinor Stanley

Elinor Stanley

exhibition dates:
5 Oct
15 Oct

Under the sway of emotions, we are like buildings whose every door has been torn out. As they pass, they rearrange the inner furniture of our minds, overthrowing any order we might have imposed on our thoughts. All concepts, even those we deemed the grave stand most stable, are stripped bare and revealed in their transience. Yet, emotions, like the wind, can only be detected by the wake of their passage.They seem to have no form, nor a body of their own. This is why, perhaps, their capture can feel futile; a mission that might easily end in embarrassment for those who dare pursue it.

Elinor Stanley attempts this perilous hunt, laying her traps in the high-pitched colours of her paintings and in the sensuous pleasure of her brushstrokes. Surrounded by abstract fields of colour, her figures weave a net of tenderness, cruelty, and humour. They look at each other, and are gazed upon in return, exchanging roles in the recital of gazes.Their bodies expand and contract, replicating in their painted flesh what happens within the intimate theatre of our emotions. A loving glance is enoughto single out a detail and expand it beyond its confines. A moment of forgetfulness is sufficient to make things wither and disappear.

In the paintings presented in the exhibition Tropo, Elinor Stanley puts on stage our daily life at the height of its intensity. It is no one’s life in particular. Anyone and everyone could hide beneath the locks of brown hair of the female characters, or behind the swollen heads of her male counterparts. Each of us is, in turn, the object and the subject of the gaze, performing and experiencing the transformations that are brought about by the desire of the other. By looking at someone, we carve them out of the world. Where there used to be only an indistinct landscape, our intent gazing brings forth the presence of “someone”. When we are looked at, we ourselves are created.

Because a certain kind of gaze is like a voice that utters the magic word of creation: “you”. Looking at each other, the figures in Elinor Stanley’s paintings appear to treat each other as“you,” and in that instant the entire melodrama of our lives unfolds. Perhaps, no one said more lyrically than Sandor Marai, the great Hungarian novelist, with words that could almost be heard emanating from the paintings collected in Tropo:

 “You” is a mighty word...whose reverberation fills the entire human universe, a painful word that forms and names, that enlivens identity and gives it a voice. … Do you fully understand the word? … [It] elevates you above your fellow mortals, distinguishes you from those whom in part you resemble; it hoists you up and slaps you on the back, it crowns you a king and dubs you a knight. It is a fearsome word. “You”, [she] writes, and the instant she writes the word you are ennobled. … “You”, she writes, and… she places on paper the only word that can hold the sentence, the syntax, together as though she had addressed the subject of it by its proper name. “You”... A mysterious word. ... And in so naming “you”,it is as if she were engaged in an act of creation, re-creating you.

written by Federico Campagna

curated by Angelica Jopling

Elinor Stanley studied at the Royal Academy Schools (2019-2023). Recent exhibitions include: “John Moores Painting Prize” (2023),The Walker Art Gallery,  Liverpool; “RA Schools Show 2023” (2023), Royal Academy of Arts, London and “Day by Day, Good Day” (2023), Union Pacific, London.