Date: March 27 • 2020
End date: April 30 • 2020

Elsa Chesnel

Figurative Abstractions

Charcoal, Pastels and Acrylics

Elsa Chesnel has always been seduced by charcoal. The black mess engulfs her as drawings emerge. Although charcoal is her medium of choice, its limitations pushed Chesnel to use acrylics to express herself in larger formats, experiment with colour and apply this approach to pastel figures on paper.

As her art grew and asserted itself, Chesnel realized that automatism guided her process. When creating, she loses herself in shape and mass, then she cleans up the image and finds meaning through line as she explores her thoughts. Whether creating abstract or figurative works, Chesnel’s pieces reach a stage where form becomes secondary after feeling and the two styles begin to merge; shapes become concrete and figures lose their structure in the realm of abstraction.

However, once a piece is complete, its meaning does not belong to the artist anymore. Chesnel succeeds when her creations trigger emotions in the heart of the viewer; when the work acquires a life of its own.

In many ways, Figurative Abstractions is Chesnel’s own amusing version of Rorschach’s inkblots.

Instagram: @elsachesnel

Behind the Artwork
Elsa Chesnel is a self-taught artist. She grew up in Provence, France and began exploring European art history. Later, she experimented with black and white photography and was captivated by the power of contrast.

When Elsa immigrated to Canada, she stopped creating art while she concentrated on administrative work. She was re-awakened to the power of art when a friend introduced her to beat poetry and American Abstract Expressionism and asked her “what if…”

Elsa returned to art with charcoal drawings, which have evolved into 8-foot acrylic paintings, maxing out the space she lives in. Since 2018, Elsa has exhibited her work in many solo and group shows in Greater Vancouver, and she is happily featured in private collections in Europe and North America.


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