Elena Bria is, to a certain degree, a surprise! Unexpected, and yet. The fact that she is one of the contemporary artists is obvious. Born in 1992 in Chisinau, Elena Bria graduated in 2011 from the Igor Vieru Fine Arts High School in Chisinau and the Ilya Repin Academy of Fine Arts in Saint Petersburg, where she studied between 2012 and 2018. She had solo exhibitions in Chisinau, Bucharest and participated in collective exhibitions in the USA, Russia, Great Britain and Italy.
So, an artist of the present. And yet looking at her works we can ask ourselves: is this contemporary art? Elena Bria seems to be speaking to us from the past. Her style, strongly marked by the St. Petersburg school is boldly preserved, almost defiantly, in patterns that seemed completely abandoned. Elena Bria does not believe in ambiguous representations. She does not “leave” us alone in front of her work. It does not challenge us to have or invent emotions and understandings that we cannot support or prove.
Elena Bria is clear, explicit, coherent. Her subjects and technique free us from the effort of inventing shapes, colors and, above all, meanings in our minds. They are all there, in every work, waiting and welcoming us familiarly, restfully. In her case, the famous question “what did the artist mean?” becomes useless. The viewer knows what Elena Bria wanted to say, because the artist leaves no room for doubt. Her portraits are alive, they are present, they join us in the exercise of contemplation. And the objects in the still life works provoke us to moments of meditation.
And yet, is what she does contemporary art? Elena Bria will tell us simply: it’s ART! The phrase “contemporary art” does not, in fact, indicate anything specific. And that’s precisely why it can encompass generously and perhaps demandingly, many styles and approaches. In this apparently chaotic setting, Elena Bria chose order. It seeks innovation within the classical canon, not in its denial. It preserves, but also refines, subjects that many would see as anachronistic. Asked by us how it relates to contemporary art, Elena Bria answered: “Contemporary art can be considered any artistic expression whose author is a contemporary person. I consider the technique and manner in which I paint a continuation of realism, the foundations which were laid by such painters as Ilya Repin, John Singer Sargent, Mariano Fortuny, Joaquin Sorolla and others.”
Her originality does not lie in the invention of concepts or techniques, but in the actual, contemporary, way in which she sits within the old themes and methods, continuing in a contemporary key a long tradition.