Ella Kruglyanskaya was born in 1978 in Latvia and currently lives and works in New York City. Kruglyanskaya completed their MFA at Yale School of Art in 2006. They had solo exhibitions at Tate Liverpool; Tramway, Glasgow; Thomas Dane Gallery, London; and The Power Station, Dallas, Texas. Kruglyanskaya was also included in group exhibitions at Murray Guy, New York; Aishti Foundation, Beirut; and White Cube Bermondsey, London.
The paintings of Ella Kruglyanskaya depict an enduring enquiry into relationships between women that is at once familiar and refreshing. The friendships, conflicts and moments of sharing that occur between Kruglyanskaya’s exaggerated female figures are rendered so convincingly, one might not initially acknowledge their painterly qualities. And for all the intimacies of these figures, the artist’s hand is still very much present, evidenced in the weighty and dynamic movement of paint over the canvas that produces figures bound by and held in washes, splatters, shapes, lines and blocks of saturated colour.
Kruglyanskaya’s practice emerges from both a tradition and keen understanding of diverse movements ranging from German Expressionism and Pop art, while seemingly borrowing gestural lines and forms reminiscent of 1970s fashion illustration. The latter reference most explicit in the flatness of bodies on planes, the voluptuous hips, and the distinctive facial poses set among bold patterns and sketched grids. These formal elements are challenged by the sheer scale of the paintings – Kruglyanskaya’s works tower above the viewer, and have been described by the artist as ‘cinematic’ – pulling them towards a monumentalism of sorts.
The viewer must navigate several acts of looking when encountering Kruglyanskaya’s work. On a micro-scale, we can occupy ourselves within the interior architecture of these paintings; reveling in swathes of colour, texture and overstated female forms that seem ready to burst from the four sides in which they are housed. This leads us to situate both object, figure, and painted act within the space of a gallery, and more widely, in a society where women represent themselves, and where, more rarely, femininity is celebrated on the canvas. The formal qualities and processes that Kruglyanskaya employs in her painting act to situate her hyper-feminised bodies, ornamented scenes of friendship, conflict, and work in a world of women. This holds a certain radicalism when set within the long canon of art history that has so often relegated women to an object merely to be looked at and rarely permitted to be doing the looking.
Kruglyanskaya’s presence occurs not only in her revelling in this world of well-dressed, well-heeled and wide-hipped women, but also in the presence of preparatory sketches and drawings that litter the paintings as other objects of the painting itself. Krugylanskaya presents to us a world where women converse, confide and conflict, with her own hand more than extant, and offers to us a world where we can bear witness to groupings, re-groupings, and perhaps, invitations.