Elsa Rouy


Ephialtes.  Noun, a nightmare.

GNYP is excited to present Ephialtes; an exhibition of new works by London-based artist Elsa Rouy. 

Ephialtes delves into the idea of the incubus; a folkloric demon figure that disturbs and violates the sleep of an unsuspecting dreamer. Rouy uses this demonic ‘incubus’ figure, cited in early medical history as the main cause of nightmares and sleep paralysis, to explore themes around the grotesque body, psychology and sexuality.  

In Ephialtes, Rouy’s works inhabit the realm of the nightmarish and the abject. Throughout the show, human forms are contorted and wrenched into misshapen, grotesque forms. Rouy’s figures are manic and frenzied; they enter into a warped corporeality and teeter on the unknowable border between life and death. Throughout Ephialtes, it is unsure whether the figures on display are the victims of the nightmare or the ones enacting it. In one sense, the shapes of the figures remind the viewer of the violent tossing and turning of a person experiencing a particularly disturbing or traumatic dream. At the same time, these distorted bodies could quite easily be the haunting conjurations of an overactive sleeping mind; terrifying the unfortunate dreamer.

Elsa Rouy creates works of intense psychological depth. Through painting, she attempts to get to the heart of her own personal experience. With a queer lens she pulls from art history, objectifying and using the body as a tool to stage confused and conflicting narratives. Ephialtes touches on the fragility and power of the body to visually display compelling and complex emotional landscapes. 

Jamie Hope