Elena Njoabuzia Onwochei-Garcia’s installations of oil paintings on paper explore how the dynamics between people are shaped by what appears to be real and the possibilities of fiction. My interest in this disjunction is inspired by the mestiza experience. The sense of never being aligned, being confronted with an unauthorised fictional self, and those conflicting moments of an existence “in-between“ reflects the reality of being mestiza. She works to enact a form of M.Lugone’s “world-travelling” to overcome forms of arrogant perception that produce ignorance about others.

The space of seeing is a grounding principle of Onwochei-Garcia’s practice: the paper paintings extend and restrict that space. With a focus on disrupting the spectator’s privilege, embodied in the space for observing, her installation aim is to accustom its viewer to the feeling of existing in the “in-between”. By turning paintings into structures, that refuse to display themselves and frustrate the looking process as you have to twist, turn and rotate to see them, she intends to upset the privilege of spectating.

Onwochei-Garcia entangles psychological, literary and historical analysis of literature to play out refuted experiences and challenge the idea of a singular narrative. The characters in the paintings are created by collaging her drawings of art historical, film and popular images. The layers of paint and narratives intertwine myths and maybes––stories emerge and retreat.

Elena Njoabuzia Onwochei-Garcia (Spanish-British), figurative painter and installation artist, recently completed her MFA at the Glasgow School of Art. Onwochei-Garcia was selected as a Bloomberg New Contemporary (2023), shortlisted for Robert Walters UK New Artist 2023 and was awarded the RSA John Kinross Scholarship and the Leverhulme Master of Fine Art Bursary. Her recent exhibitions include New Contemporaries 2023 (Camden Art Centre, 2024 and Grundy Art Gallery, 2023), Puzzling (New Glasgow Society, 2023), UK New Artist (Saatchi Gallery, 2023) Addendum (No.20 Arts Gallery, 2023), Short Lapses (Saltspace, 2023), Royal British Society of Artists Rising Stars (ROSL, 2022), Painting our Past: The African Diaspora in England (Corbridge Museum and The Africa Centre in London, 2021). 

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