Elise Ansel joins the Young Masters Tour

Young Masters is proud to announce that an exciting new artist will be joining the tour, Elise Ansel! Check out an interview with Ansel and an example of one of her beautiful works!

Image, Elise Ansel, Dance, 2012, oil on linen, 21×31 inches, courtesy Cadogan Contemporary

Image, Elise Ansel, Dance, 2012, oil on linen, 21×31 inches, courtesy Cadogan Contemporary

Interview with Ansel:

Can you explain to us what your work is about?

I make abstract paintings that are derived from Renaissance and Baroque depictions of bacchanals and figures in the landscape. I interpret the “master works” through the lens of gestural abstraction. I use painterly notation and shorthand as a means of translating the masterworks into a contemporary pictorial language. I do this in order both to see the masterworks more clearly and to re-present the master works to a contemporary audience for re-consideration. I am interested in the relevance of these masterpieces paintings to our time. I view the art historical cannon as an archive of imagery that can be used for subjective purposes. The master works become stepping stones for my own visual improvisations. The source material is obscured to varying degrees by means of a range of techniques. The obfuscation of the source not only becomes a metaphor for the veil time draws across memory but also becomes the point of departure for the creation of a new and original picture. I am interested in the relevance of the handcrafted aspect of Renaissance paintings to the present, a time wherein the dominant means of visual communication in both the commercial and the fine arts is mechanical. “The medium is the message.” Also, I am interested in re-inventing and reclaiming paintings that were created at a time women were seen as objects rather than primary actors or creators. Finally, the source material allows me to explore the type of luminosity that can be achieved with colors made from mineral pigments rather than chemicals, dyes or light emitting diodes.

What is it about the Young Masters project that you are most interested in?

I am interested in contributing to a visual conversation with other contemporary artists whose work is inspired by the work of the Old Masters.

Which artist/s are you most inspired by?


Can you tell us something about your background?

My background is in both visual art and comparative literature. When I studied Comparative Literature at Brown University, I was introduced to James Joyce’s Ulysses. I was inspired by the way Joyce reworked a classic piece of literature and from it created a contemporary masterpiece. I wanted to see if I could do the same thing in the Visual Arts. My encounter with Joyce’s Ulysses was the inception of my current body of work.

My paintings are informed by the idea of intertextuality. Coined by Julia Kristeva in 1966, intertextuality refers to an acknowledged process wherein new texts, bearing independent meanings, are transposed from pre-existing texts. Intertextuality points to the fact that, although closely intertwined, both texts bear a different and intrinsic ‘identity.’ My paintings examine the ways in which intertextuality, an accepted and proven practice in the literary arts, can be applied to the visual arts.

What inspired you to become an artist?

Great works of literature, art and music awakened within me the desire to participate in that dialogue.

If you weren’t an artist what would you be?

A writer

What is your greatest achievement as an artist to date?


What are your plans for the future?

To continue to paint

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