Elif Giray is a Turkish/Canadian, Toronto-based, self-taught abstract painter and collage artist. She was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She studied Psychology at Concordia University and then did her Master’s of Social Work at the University of Toronto. Although she has been working as a therapist since 2005, she continued to pursue her interest in making art.
Over the years, she took a few painting courses but learned mostly through trial and error and by studying the works of different artists such as Gerhard Richter and Jean-Paul Riopelle. She was influenced by the Automatiste movement and abstract impressionism which lends to her being experimental in her approach. She uses a range of mediums and techniques; with her paintings she works primarily with acrylic, acrylic mediums and with her collages, she uses a combination of watercolour, vintage photos, paint, paper and pastels. She explores memory, relationships, time and the ephemeral nature of life. She seeks balance and harmony between contrasting elements of colour, texture and movement.
In 2021, she had a group exhibition in Toronto, Ontario. You can find her art in numerous private and corporate collections.
In my work, I experiment with ideas, colour and texture. I seek to investigate the themes of memory, relationships and the passage of time. I cut and compose mostly small to medium sized collages using a combination of abandoned vintage photographs, old handwritten letters, decorative paper, everyday artifacts, watercolour and acrylic paint. My abstract paintings combine colours, molding medium and expressive palette knife strokes. Each discipline allows me to tackle similar themes but from a different lens; my collages allow me to explore in an up close and more concrete way and my paintings allow for more distance and abstraction, combining the micro and macro.
My work is always intuitive. I play around till I land on something that feels right, allowing my unconscious to lead the process. I am influenced by abstract expressionism and the automatism movement. I never have an idea of what exactly I'm going to make, the piece unfolds as I work. I’m going for a certain feel but I don't know it until I'm there.
I hope to evoke emotion, to stir feelings of wistfulness, reflection on relationships and the layers of a life lived. My wish is for viewers to make a connection to the felt sense of time passing and to their own memories.
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