At first glance, Elly Liyana Ruslan’s work comes off as a soft serve swirl of youthful naivety and muted colors. Her illustrations and paintings usually depict portraits, picturesque settings, and animals. The artist states that her work is “fragments of her personal thoughts and memories combined together to form a reflection of something intimate yet openly displayed.” Like a Wes Anderson film, her work is stunning, but, as with The Royal Tenenbaums, darkness looms beneath a pretty picture surface.
Ruslan was born in 1987 in Singapore; in her latest work, the relationships portrayed build complexity. People are posed with animals, but for what purpose? Is she contextualizing Eisenstein’s use of montage? Is it meant to represent the battle of man versus nature, or is it merely meant to make for a pleasant aesthetic? The mirror image is also a repeating subject throughout the artist’s work; are the images of twins or multiple parts of one personality? Her piece ‘Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing’ might give us a hint as to what she is trying to get at. Perhaps, the artist is trying to turn us all into skeptics… Many of the themes of the artist’s new work has carried over from the past, nature, the double image, and portraits. Her earlier illustrations, however, have a stripped down quality and she also has a lovely series of defacements.
There’s one clue left Ruslan places on her site that allows outsiders to peak into the mind of the artist:
“The satisfaction she gets from creating art is knowing that a part of her exists in the work… And if you look at them close enough, you’ll find her story.”