Thursday, 24 October 2013

Watch Out Lads it's Ella Guru, She's Moving Like No Other Gal Do.

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"Now, here she comes, walkin', lookin' like a zoo,  Hello, moon, hello, moon,  Hi, Ella, high Ella Guru,  She knows all the colors that nature do,  High Ella, high Ella Guru."
- Don Van Vliett
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The name comes courtesy of Captain Beefheart's 1969 album 'Trout Mask Replica.' The female of the same name comes from Ohio, is an artist and musician and is part of the Stuckism movement. Her real name is Ella Drauglis and she was born in 1966.

The lady has dabbled; not that she dabbles in art, but she has walked the walk, lived a life. She did the whole art school thing, attending Columbus College of Art and Design from '84 to '86 but left when faced with what she described as "all that conceptual crap." She did however, get the Visual Arts Award when she graduated from Ohio University . She has been to Africa and India, lived a quasi-Islamic lifestyle in Islington ,London  and  also been a belly dancer and stripper.  She even worked in a fetish club where she spanked men. Tories no doubt who really deserve a good kicking rather than spanking. (So do all the other parties and their party members.)  And, not to miss a trick she is a musician, appeared on John Peel's radio show and been in bands such as the delightfully named Mambo Taxi and the less inventive, Voodoo Queens. Not so much a dabbler I guess but more someone willing to experience life to the fullest. It shows in her art.

Stuckism is an odd one; at least, I think so. I share many of their opinions as found in their manifesto. I too like art you can hang on your wall or place on the mantle or in some corner of the living room. Not so sure I think they are that serious when they state the only real artists are those who paint. What about collages? Or sculptors  Or filmmakers? Still, I see their manifesto now includes those others too. 

What this group disliked was the ego-driven art currently selling bucket loads. They prefer what is commonly known as figurative art. Stuckism is much like punk who tried to take music back to its roots. I confess that seeing bundles of hay lying in the Whitechapel Gallery didn't elicit the correct response from me when I asked what the bunny food was for only to be told it was art. Art my arse. It is this taking conceptual art to extremes both Stuckism and I dislike. On that, I am 100% with them. I presume that surrealism and Dadaism are exempt from Stuckism's scorn? They too show the real world even if by an absurd viewpoint...

Ella Guru though is something else. Her art captures her life thus far lived, perfectly.



The art is as camp as a row of tents. It hums with life as it reveals living in a City with smoke filled lungs, ale filled bellies and music not heard on the radio and which resides somewhere between the cracked pavements, the alleys and tarnished facades. It is the cosmopolitan underbelly found in places like Brick Lane and Camden, Shoreditch  and Greenwich.and even dodgy Deptford. You can feel the energy throbbing from the above artwork. It is positively crackling with electricity. Real life captured.

'Quentin Crisp'
Ella's work strikes me has to have a sense of fun, of seeing life not in the manner suggested by fashion magazines but as it is with all its comical frailties. Fat people actually touch and communicate with skinny people, short people, black, white, brown and gods help us, those of different sexual persuasions mingling together and not causing offence. Well, I never. Would you Adam and  Eve it?. It also has what seems a sense of muted respect for the likes of Leonardo de Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and Titian.  The painting featured above if of legendary Quentin Crisp who, after meeting Ella, described her was weird -pot and kettle methinks. Besides, what is weird?


Among my personal favourites are those paintings featuring musicians. I guess it has something to do with my still being in awe of such people a little enamoured by those gifted individuals. There is nothing quite like a low dug basement bar that has a rickety stair leading down to where the band plays. The odd smells of beer and nicotine greet you along with some incredible sounds. People crowded round in a hole in the ground as music pumps and weaves its Stygian magic.
I believe that those found frequenting these places are distinctly their own people and not two bob mannequins tarted up in the latest vogue. Not that I mind how people dress but that's the point. Everyone should be able to dress how they want without receiving sneers and snide comments. Here you find an acceptance of individuality and not a loud sniff of derision for not following the same trend. The colours of the paintings match the atmosphere - smoky saxaphone blue, double bass purple, violin vermilion.


The above is, I think, a self-portrait. It again shows that admiration for the old masters with its detail. There is a lush depth of colour reminiscent of that era. The following image is of Ella's husband which again, with its mix of rich colour and composition brings to mind the old school of painters. I also like the three-dimensional quality found in Ella's work. 


This is art before the concept of conceptualism. It is art given form from the eye to the hand for what the eye sees the hand captures - brush strokes laid upon the canvas. It is a time honoured craft first used thousands of years ago when mankind dwelt in caves. It is honest and true and as natural an extension of ourselves as using our fingers to break bread.  This art of Ella Guru is bloody marvellous.
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Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers then licks the Decals clean

1 comment:

Aurora Hylton said...

What a cool scene! Thanks for sharing it with us.