Elaine Woo

Intense, focused meditations on portraiture

Article by Jasper Hamill | 16 Apr 2006
Exploring the luminous, emotive potentiality of colour, tone and texture, Elaine Woo's paintings, hung in the dilapidated EmergeD space on Bell Street, are intense, focused meditations on portraiture. Lonely, contemplative figures, sipping a drink or gazing out of the painting, look dissolute, solitary, against backdrops of vibrantly connotative colour, sometimes echoing the grim, existential black of a Francis Bacon portrait. One of the figures, lit by an ethereal light that gives one side of his face a ghostly pallor, sits lonely with a glass, like an Edward Hopper painting, whilst in another the same figure, seemingly squeezed onto the canvas, is backed by a wooden yellow which makes it seem as if he's inside a coffin. Unafriad of grim or potentially disturbing work, Woo's paintings are psychologically penetrating and almost voyeuristic in their glimpses of interior worlds or evocation of mood. Dark, sexual, beautiful and sad, her figures and the spaces they inhabit are fascinatingly pensive. [Jasper Hamill]

EmergeD, Glasgow until April 4.