Rising talent Elena Gual is best known for her figurative paintings of women that celebrate their beauty and promote gender equality. Gual applies thick strokes of impasto onto her canvases with a spatula, creating highly textured renderings of skin, hair, and clothing. A graduate of the Florence Academy of Art, Gual aims to transform classical approaches to anatomy, composition, and light into her own style. Also a self-taught photographer, Gual often creates paintings from her own photographs, exploring the relationship between the two disciplines. In Awakening (2021), five women are shown standing close together and leaning forward so that they are supported by the back of the person in front of them; they are dressed in grey and black with bright orange eyeshadow on their eyelids. The comportment of the figures is nearly identical with the exception of the central subject, who stares directly at the viewer while the other women’s eyes are closed shut.