Elly Hadjipateras: superb paintings on show at A+D Gallery, Marylebone
By James Brewer
Versatile London artist Elly Hadjipateras exerts soft power over all who stand before her paintings.
Whether expressed through loose or taut brushwork, her authority derives from her warm involvement with her subject matter. This sway reaches through a medley of divisions: people in unselfconscious poses, close portraiture, landscapes, horses, still life, coastlines, gardens and more.
A superb sampling of her most recent accomplishments has been on display at the intimate, welcoming A+D Gallery in Chiltern Street, London W1.
It is a wonder how anyone can be engaged with so many genres, but Elly’s gentleness of approach – even when depicting as ecstatic a phenomenon as Argentine tango – quietly draws in and seduces the viewer.
Her name will sound familiar to many in the maritime community, as will her maiden name of Lemos. Her appellations evoke some of the most successful entrepreneurs in Greek shipping. London-born Elly signs some of her paintings as E Lemos. She married into the Hadjipateras family, with which her antecedents share an indelible heritage from Oinousses, islands just off the northeast coast of Chios.
In her new collection of 30 paintings, she is roaming far from the Aegean, but what unites her work is not defined substance, it is her empathetic treatment of people and places who catch her attention. The serene colour, illumination of beauty and the snatch of the joyous moment are symbolic of her desire to spread well-being and tranquillity to all around her.
She tells how some years ago a dear aunt in the final stages of cancer found peace and respite from pain by seeing one of Elly’s paintings on the bedroom wall. This experience confirmed Elly in her mission to apply her skills for the benefit of others.
Gazing on her array of exceptionally practised compositions, it is remarkable to reflect on how – largely self-taught – she became an established painter in the face of dispiriting words from some of those who knew her earlier in life.
She started drawing and painting as a young child, even before she could write, but only scraped through her O-level examination in art. After studying English and Theatre at Warwick University, she says that she did nothing creative until her mid-twenties when she enrolled in a 12-month course at Chelsea School of Art, only to be told by a teacher that she would never be an artist. By that time, Elly had set her heart on that way of life, rather than vegetate in an office, and we can be thankful that she stuck to that resolution.
She began the new career by painting portraits of friends and family, to such admiration that others were keen to commission her. Ten years ago she decided to spread her wings. “I found painting to commission a bit stifling,” says Elly, and she went on to make full use of her newfound artistic freedom.
Among her many interests are the performances of dancers, where movement is everything and facial features are subordinate. In this sphere, two canvases are highlights of her mastery of loose painting, conveying a microcosm of information with (seemingly) simple brush strokes. In Red Dancers I, the canvas is almost aflame with the drama of total commitment, while with Red Dancers II – a glorious mannerist composition – the tension that is about to burst into exciting rhythms is palpable. The poetry and music magically flow and swirl in the mind of the viewer.
The spirit of the dance swept into her palette on a visit to Argentina, where she was enthralled by tango performance, prompting her to a series of ‘snapshots’ of the sensuous routine which intimates seductive embrace. Here, she clothes the dynamism in smoothly gliding line.
While in the great South American nation, her eye was fascinated by what she echoed in the title of one of her oil paintings, Horses of Argentina. In this, one notices not just the acute observation of the animals, but the scuff and coloration of the earth that complements them. A more reflective canvas emerged from her appreciation of the landscapes of the Andean province of Mendoza.
A fine example of her portraiture is entitled Yellow II, a young woman who has a slightly apprehensive look, and is attired in finery which is of the home-made variety but none the less charming. Mother and Child sees the woman feel tenderly for the toes of the little creature she is bringing up. Young Girl has the subject’s grace emphasised by the curve of her long, elegant neck (the physical evolution of this painting can be seen on Elly’s website).
Such understanding of the female form is taken a stage further in The Four Marys, executed in oil on canvas. While not a single face of the quartet is fully visible, their characters as devout and dutiful young women are evident.
Floral works include one triptych in pink and one in blue, acrylic on board, simple studies calling up the glories of spring. The season influences others of her oil paintings including Kenwood in Spring, in front of which she is pictured here.
Elly’s first solo exhibition was at the Hellenic Centre in London. She has been featured frequently in Art for Youth at the Royal College of Art, and shown with Lloyd’s Art Group of which she is a member, winning the Best Artist prize in 2009.
Among other distinctions, she won the Royal Talens award – out of hundreds of entries – for her painting Red Tree in the Artists and Illustrators Magazine 2017 Artist of the Year competition at the Mall Galleries.
Her website is www.ellyhadjipateras.com
Elly Hadjipateras, New Paintings, has been at A+D Gallery, 51 Chiltern Street, London W1, between May 21 and 26, 2018.