Born: Glynneath. S Wales
Newport College of Art & Design
BA Fine Art
PGCE University College Cardiff
MA Fine Art UWIC
Brecknock Museum and Art Gallery
Wrexham Arts Centre
NMGW Turner House Gallery, Penarth
National Library of Wales
University of Glamorgan
Royal Cambrian Academy
Newport Museum and Art Gallery
Fane Arts Centre
Oriel Henry Thomas Camarthen College of Art
Swansea Arts Workshop
Llantarnum Grange, Gwent
Wyeside Gallery, Builth Wells
Theatr Clwyd, Mold
Cynon Valley Museum & Art Gallery
Oriel, Welsh Arts Council Gallery, Cardiff
West Wales ArtsAssociation Gallery
The School of Art, University of Wales, Aberystwyth
Also exhibited in Group Exhibitions
throughout the UK and Abroad
(France, Belgium, Germany, Lithuania & USA)
Ken Elias was once the subject of an essay -
'Et in Arcadia Ego'. The title seems deeply ironic. What can the landscapes of Poussin have in common with a depiction of the intimacies of working-class life in a former mining settlement?. Yet Elias himself has referred to "the Arcadia of my fifties childhood".
His' temple', as it was for many of his generation who grew up in the Fifties, was the cinema at the local Miners' Welfare Institute, where his Aunt Katy, the subject of many of his paintings, was an usherette. This recalled history is depicted in a painting 'Blue Skies: the Art Deco cinema is seen in close detail and against a distant, idealised landscape with cypress trees. The 'real' landscape has behind it the artificial blue sky, shown within the rectangle of a cinema screen and from the real sky come dozens of folded paper aeroplanes, symbolising childhood, warmth and generally a caring adult to make them.
Elias' work is not simply nostalgia, it contains a slightly corrosive quality and more than a little chill. There is also the curious electricity of their metaphysical dimension, which conspires to suggest that they are not a depiction of real-life at all but life as it is uneasily dreamed. The works are dense and intense; his working method has remained substantially the same since the Sixties: hard-edged images, a species of Pop painting with much use of masking tape. Wesselman and Caulfield come to mind but so do Chagall and de Chirico. But that is not all: a Magic Realist sensibility has been suggested by one critic. And the works are complex, with deep psychological undertones; they possess a freshness and a directness and simplicity of design which takes great nerve. His sensibility has much in common with the best Outsider art.
Hugh Adams 'Imaging Wales: Contemporary Arts Context'
'In Search of a Landscape'
''Getting Ready (i)'
'Getting Ready (ii)'
'But Some Dust and a Shadow'