Elena and Michel Gran present two unique features in contemporary trompe-l'oeil painting. Firstly, they work together on the same canvas. This idiosyncrasy has fascinated the public who are eager to understand how this may be possible between two artists. Symbiosis is so perfect that once a painting is completed, they can not say for sure who painted what part. Secondly, and of singular importance, is their distinctive interpretation of trompe l'oeil. Technically brilliant their skill and adeptness is self-evident.
However, unlike other skilled practitioners of the genre, who replicate onto canvas a faithful translation of their model, the Grans, in contrast, take the concept onto a completely different level - of intellectual prowess and philosophical discourse borne out of their profound understanding of historical reference. These attributes, combined with a vision and imagination rich in metaphor which transcend the norm, engage the observer in an unrelenting beguiling game of fantasy and illusion.
Elena was born in St. Petersburg in 1942 into a family of painters and architects. She trained at the Academy of Theatre, Music and Cinematography St Petersburg within the Faculty of Arts.
Michel was born in Moscow 1941, the son of a theatrical artist. He trained at the same Academy as Elena where they met and in 1964 subsequently married.
On graduating they embarked on a joint professional career as theatre set designers and book illustrators. They became collectors of furniture and objets d'art, in particular of unusual shapes, which because of their intrinsic historical character often appear in their paintings. Progressively, the representation of the inanimate and depiction of the object, significantly the playing card, became the dominant theme in their work which ultimately led to their first canvases in 1979/80.
In 1981, Elena and Michel moved to Paris. During the past 20 years they have had 16 solo exhibitions throughout France, Germany, Italy and England and also have participated in group exhibitions, among which the famous Salon d'Automne and the Salon des Independants of which they are members. Throughout this period they have completed 182 works including those in this exhibition, a reassuring and noteworthy point for collectors.
A large number of their works belong to important private collections in the UK, mainland Europe, Japan, Australia, Canada and the United States. One example is usually not enough, most collectors have a minimum of three, several have many more
The Grans are represented in public collections in Germany and Italy and in 1996, the Louvre Museum purchased a work entitled Red and Black for the French National Museum of Cards.
Elena and Michel Gran
Oil on canvas
54 x 73 cm (21.5 x 29 in)