Born and raised in Canada, Elly Smallwood graduated from the drawing and painting program at the Ontatio College of Art and Design in 2011. Being finantially challenged following her graduation, she begun watering down her paint to save up on the cost of supplies. Her work has evolved over the years to explore the human body, sexuality, its link to nature, mythology and much more. Now known for her large scale oil paintings, over half a million people follow her on Instagram, where she often use her platform for charity. She has exhibited her work in various countries, namely Canada, Russia, Germany and the United States, and has also given workshops.
Acrylic on boxing gloves
“Gloves” brings the viewer into two of Smallwood’s interests: boxing and the female figure. The naked bodies are facing each other, seated in flowers on the ground. The warmth of the body heavily contrasts its surrounding. While the artist made sure to highlight the red tones of the skin in places such as the cheeks, hands and nipples, she also pushed the vegetation’s hue to frame her figures. Using dark outlines in some areas to reinforce this idea, the woman is shown resting on the gloves. A dialogue between the support and the media takes place because of their distinctive nature: the artist carved a spot for its subject of predilection, the female figure, while the object that belongs to another domain welcomes it in harmony.
“Cross” depicts two figures boxing. As the one on the left strikes, its arm becomes an arrow that instantly guides the view’s eye to the impact. The ripples of the skin are captured by smaller raw brush strokes. The composition of the piece culminates to this energetic punch that weighs on the upper left corner of the painting. The rough strokes match the content of the piece and freeze this battle in time.