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I always derive great pleasure from discovering an artist, not because they are not well-known of course, but because my immense peregrinations in the world of painting has not yet allowed me to comment on their talent.

Although a self-taught painter, Eliane PRADEL benefited from the presence and advice of the great Jef FRIBOULET from Fécamp, and I must admit that Eliane PRADEL has made the best use of this, creating a personal style characterised by the energy and expressive force of this most valuable mentor.

With this artist, nothing is more essential than the liveliness of the works' structures that absorb material and colour by melting them into generous and original creations. Over numerous Salons and personal exhibitions, E. PRADEL has made a name for herself amongst the public of art-lovers, and the many awards she has won further confirm her surprising, unique and daring style that allows her to build with panache on a perfectly defined foundation. Eliane PRADEL then injects energy into the work with an impatient, throbbing and evocative palette knife, blurring reality with her use of colour and further expressing vitality, or deeper feelings, even rendering emotions palpable.

 

André RUELLAN, art critic

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The inner face

 

As a self-taught painter, Eliane Pradel’s approach stems from an intense need for sharing and expression. She lives and works in a village in the Pays de Caux, in Normandy. Far from the hustle and bustle of the city, she indulges to her heart’s delight in her painting, a passion that has excited her from an early age.

"As a kid, I used to pilfer tins of shoe polish and would have fun painting whatever I could get my hands on. Mostly bits of paper and cardboard." This unexpected anecdote illustrates Eliane Pradel’s feisty temperament. According to astrology, she is made of fire, placing great importance on "human nature", one of her themes which recurs the most. It was only much later, in fact, that her painting started taking a serious turn, when she met Jef Friboulet, the most famous and popular expressionist in the region. Imbued with human warmth, this generous artist encouraged the young woman despite her deep-seated self-doubt. She tentatively showed him her portrait of two nuns, painted from a touching childhood memory. Once he had detailed the subject, Friboulet trusted to his instinct and offered her a lithograph, extracting from her the promise that she would not keep back this sort of work to herself any more.

Spurred by the aura of the master and the friendly authority he deployed to inspire all those he came in contact with, Eliane Pradel agreed to work the local galleries. Having had very few lessons, apart from those dispensed by the nuns in Pavilly during her long-ago summer holidays in Villequier and a year of training in her village, Eliane put in time, advice and hard work and listened to advice to gain acceptance among her peers, then have awards bestowed on her. She was to be seen at the Salon de l'Ayac (Yvetot), in Fécamp, Elbeuf, Rouen, Le Havre and Bernay, to name but a few venues.

As she forged ahead, Eliane Pradel made the most of advice from Roger Douville, the sculptor from the Pays de Caux and Jean-Louis Le Moal, an artist who is as strict as he is discreet, but with a sure-fire painter’s instinct. An avid reader, of poetry in particular, Eliane Pradel seems above all to take a great interest in the intimate, somewhat secret side of things. She blithely introduces a significant dose of imagination, as in this enchanting series on the theme of water, featuring algae that resemble peacocks’ feathers. Using a brush and a knife, she opted for oil and canvas rather than paper.

"I love people”, Eliane Pradel cheerfully repeats. “I love analysing what makes them tick and I strive to represent this in spontaneous brushstrokes. I mostly draw my inspiration from the emotions I feel. But I never work from live models. I seek to convey and fathom states of mind. I’m also excited about portraying movement, like in my series on the depths of the sea." The painter, who often gives gives paradoxical titles, sometimes with puns (Les algues du feu; Tête de nu) will no doubt continue to hone her quest. "I project myself in my paintings,” she explained. “They first appear in my head before taking shape on the canvas. I often project myself in the people I paint or draw on childhood memories. I consider myself more a painter of emotions than of portraits. Behind each face, I try to depict the movements of the soul."

 

Interview by Luis Porquet, art critic