Spotlight

Feature Provocative, London-based painter Elsa Rouy

Championed by Ellie Pennick
Visual Arts
The Wick - The Cherry Popped As My Ears Did, 2021 by Elsa Rouy
Above  The Cherry Popped As My Ears Did, 2021 by Elsa Rouy
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The Wick - Elsa Rouy
Above  Elsa Rouy
Interview
Elsa Rouy
Photography
Courtesy of Guts Gallery and Marc Hibbert/Dazed and Confused
04 January 2022
Interview
Elsa Rouy
Photography
Courtesy of Guts Gallery and Marc Hibbert/Dazed and Confused
04 January 2022
As a working-class, queer Northerner with no art background, gallerist Ellie Pennick felt alienated and frustrated at the politics of the arts education system and lack of opportunities available. To fuel progressive change, she founded Guts Gallery in 2019 to champion underrepresented voices and challenge the traditional art gallery model.
In October 2020, Ellie Pennick and Guts Gallery presented the debut solo show, and first of three exhibitions, of London-based artist Elsa Rouy, after they connected in an unexpected way.

Pennick says: “Elsa and I met unconventionally on the dating app Hinge. We matched and chatted but never went on a date. I looked her up on Instagram and saw her work, and it all started from there. We always joke and say we are each other’s best match. Romantically we would be terrible,” she laughs, “but, as a gallerist and artist our relationship is brilliant.”

Rouy creates art with a female gaze, exploring female sexual expression and the imperfect-self, from her own experiences and those of others. Her large-scale paintings often include hedonistic grotesque scenes of monstrous women with their sexual organs revealed, and bodily fluids to expose the unsavoury parts of being human that are considered taboo.

“What I love about working with Elsa is that I am never shocked, she keeps getting better and better and pushes her practice. She refuses to be comfortable or paint to please others,” says Pennick.

“My influences are mainly derived from my lived experiences,” says Rouy. “Not literally, but from a more emotional/mental standpoint. Mainly my relationship with myself, then my relationships with others, but sometimes observed relationships between others. A strong current influence is my positioning in society as a queer ‘woman’ and my awkwardness with situating myself within this. Using myself and my practice as a tool to extract and mock preconceived ideas of what it is and what it should be to be a woman, or more pointedly, me. I think it’s a theme that many people can find an affinity to and relate to my work.”

Pennick agrees: “Elsa is pure talent. Her voice is needed in the art world, creating a dialogue about queerness, identity, and human connection. She is unapologetically herself, and I 100% believe she is one of the most talented artists of her generation.”

Following a series of exhibitions throughout 2021, Rouy and Guts Gallery have already scheduled the artist’s third solo show, coming May 2022. In the meantime, be sure to follow her Instagram for updates on her plans for the year.

About the champion

The Wick - Feature Provocative, London-based painter Elsa Rouy

Director and founder of Guts Gallery, Ellie Pennick is one of the youngest gallerists navigating the art world today. Unable to accept her place into the Royal College of Art to study a master’s degree in sculpting due to limited funds, she founded Guts to tackle how young talent is being failed by the elitist art world. Founded on principles of equality, it champions emerging Black, POC, queer, and working-class artists.

Photography by Marc Hibbert for Dazed and Confused.

“[Elsa’s] voice is needed in the art world, creating a dialogue about queerness, identity, and human connection.”

Place of Birth

Kent, UK.

Education

BA (Hons) in Painting at Camberwell College of Arts, University of the Arts London.

Awards, Accolades

‘Cacotopia 06’ group show at Annka Kultys Gallery from 15 January – 12 February 2022.

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