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Elena Degenhardt (b. 1977 in Siberia) is a German portrait and landscape artist, based in Düsseldorf. Classically trained in art in Russia, she got back to it in 2015, after a career in teaching and translating, attending art classes with Jo Hall, Gareth Reid and Jesmond Vassallo. Full-time artist since 2017, Elena is a Signature Member of the Pastel Society of America, Associate Member of the SGFA, Associate Artist of the Unison Colour, Member of the renowned group PoetsArtists (USA) and Pastel Guild of Europe. She has exhibited in curated and juried exhibitions with PoetsArtists, The Royal Society of Marine Artists and The Society of Graphic Fine Art, UK, La Société Nationale des Beaux Arts, France, The Pastel Society of America and The International Association of Pastel Societies, USA, among others; receiving ‚Outstanding Pastel’ BoldBrush awards twice.
Her work is published in Yearbook ‘Arte y Libertad’ (Galeria Artelibre in collaboration with the museum MEAM, Spain), Leonardo Art Guide 2020, PoetsArtists Magazine, Pratique Des Arts and Artists&Illustrators and available through 33 Contemporary Gallery on Artsy, Abend Gallery, USA, The Tonic Gallery, UK, and Christine X Art Gallery, Malta. Elena’s multicultural and multilingual experience has influenced her artistic choice of themes, such as lost identities, displacement, human fears, memory and time. She works in realistic tradition with an impressionistic touch, mainly in soft pastels but also in other media, en plein air and in her studio, from life but also using her own photo references, sketches, memory and imagination.
“Water is my favourite element, while human form, mind and psyche fascinate me. The intricate patterns of water surface reflections symbolise the ever-changing multidimensionality of the human psyche. Like the sea, our mind holds unreachable depths, both fascinating and frightening. Sea is a universal womb, cradle and tomb. Immersed in the sea waters, I feel most deeply connected to the natural world and universe as well as to my inner self. I become weightless, relieved from the burden of unwanted memories, inadequate self-perception and fears. My physical contours dissolve. I become part of the never-ending life cycle. It’s healing and reassuring. To re-live this when I am not in the waters, I paint. My feelings flow into the painting and back. I literally pour my being into the piece. It’s a very personal process, which partially explains my choice of medium, soft pastels, that creates no barrier between an artwork and myself. “