My artistic practice is and always has been based on the creation of fictive characters who perform distilled psychological, social, and experiential narratives in painting tableaux, drawing, and painting-based installation. Central themes that have occupied my work have included issues of desire and sexuality, gender identity, intimacy, and relationships to self and other. Over the past number of years I have worked in thematic series, beginning each with a conceptual framework and then allowing an intuitive and improvisational layered painting process to determine the eventual form and content of the work. In this way, my process has the quality and sensation of being a director, writer, casting agent, costume and set designer, for a compressed and indeterminate film or fiction that occupies a single field yet remains unfolding.
Previous bodies of work include an immersive, multi-media, painting-based installation Peep: Beyond the Eye of the Beholder which addressed issues of power dynamics in the possessive gaze; Stories of Girls which examined female adolescent socio-psycho-sexual identity; Psycho-Dramas in Paint; and the open-ended Dystopic Romances and Optimistic Dysfunction series. Ongoing in my work has been the constructed `Frankensteinian’ figure, or invented B-movie actress/actor as the central performer, and `desire for something’ as the central motif.
My recent work has elaborated these explorations into issues of social dynamics and `healthy’ functioning, moving from an individual psychological framework to a more collective psychic space. Love, alienation, and free association is the title of a suite of recent paintings and drawings that explores notions of personal and social need, estrangement, and intimacy. Originating from a conceptual matrix that includes research into individual and collective psychology, neuroscience, theatre, film and television drama, the imagery in the paintings and drawings follows an open, free associative model – one considered around evocations and indirect connections presented as a form of conversation about trauma, emotional life and love. In this recent suite of works, distilled, character-driven psychodramas in painting are counterbalanced by my loose and notational approach to drawing, where the eraser and pencil chase liminal subtexts and glimpsed and fleeting insights and serve to counterbalance the densely wrought painting melodramas.
Exhibition Statement for LOVE, ALIENATION, AND FREE ASSOCIATION at FOFA Gallery, Montreal,
September 4 - October 12, 2012
LOVE, ALIENATION, AND FREE ASSOCIATION is the title of a suite of recent paintings and drawings that explores issues and notions of personal and social need, estrangement, and intimacy. Originating from a conceptual matrix that includes research into individual and collective psychology, neuroscience, theatre, film and television drama, the imagery in the paintings follows an open, free associative model – one considered around evocations and indirect connections presented as a form of conversation about existential and experiential questions.
Griffiths’ long term artistic practice is based on the creation of invented characters in painted tableaux, drawing and installation. The works are character-driven, relating to literary, stage or screen fictions that privilege an indepth character exploration. Thematic strains in her work have foregrounded gender identity, sexuality, desire and psychology. Over the past number of years she has worked in thematic series, beginning each with a conceptual framework and then allowing the layered painting processes to determine the eventual form and content of the work.
In this recent suite of works, distilled, character-driven psychodramas are counterbalanced by small geometric abstractions and loose, notational drawing. The relationship is as visual and mental interstices between the dense and wrought melodrama, and instinctive, non-verbal language of purely visual association.
Exhibition Statement for New works on obsessive themes at Katharine Mulherine Contemporary Art Projects, September 30 - October 24, 2010
Visual fictions and distilled theatre represents a selection of recent paintings and drawings developed as ideas towards a large-scale cycle of paintings, drawings and installation work. Using imagery from film, literature and popular culture as a point of departure, Griffiths' most recent character-driven visual fictions set up a distilled and suspended theatre of the absurd. Locked into a perpetual state of suspension these `action spaces' reflect on questions of personal and social identity, and the search for meaningful experience and connection in the everyday.
Eliza Griffiths practice is centered on an exploration of psycho-socio-sexual themes through the creation of character-driven visual fictions in painting and drawing. Like made-up B-movie actors, her subjects perform indeterminate, immobile, campy distillations of identity, emotional life, and existential questions.
Griffiths was born in London, UK, and immigrated to Canada at the age of eight. She studied Studio Art at Concordia University and did graduate studies in Art History at Carleton University. Griffiths’ work has been exhibited throughout Canada and internationally including Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Centre (Buffalo); Mercer Union (Toronto); the Saidye Bronfman Center (Montreal); the Dunlop Art Gallery (Regina); Platform Gallery (London, UK); the Art Gallery of Alberta; APEXart (NY,NY). Her work has been featured in Canadian Art Magazine; Border Crossings; C-Magazine; NYArts Magazine among others and has been extensively collectedboth privately and publicly including the Canada Council Art Bank and the Art Gallery of Ontario. Griffiths lives and works in Montreal where she is an Associate Professor of Studio Arts at Concordia University.