The playfulness of Tregoning’s subject matter, drawn from everyday observation and the sensuality of nostalgia and memory, masks the subtextual gravitas her paintings and illustrations are frequently shot through with. Weighty existential and anthropological questions -- about identity and belonging, performance and display -- are found posed in seemingly the lightest of spaces.
Her Selfies series (2017), for example, warps the conventional artist-muse dynamic: by vesting representational responsibility to the sitter, Tregoning makes a captivating point not only about the assumptions we as viewers bring to bear on the artwork, but also about those much more fundamental techniques of arrangement we use to quite literally construct our selves.
While Tregoning’s portraits have been historically rendered in broad, tender brushstrokes, more recent work has seen the artist turn to the microscopic. The series Hirsute (2017), a collection of micro-studies into the flowering trend of men wearing beards, grapples with images of patriarchy, of masculinity and machoism in somewhat satirical miniature format. It is in the liminal space between the beautiful and the playful, the light and the sensuous, that Tregoning’s work encounters the complex elements of personhood.
Born in Mauritius and educated in the UK, Shelly Tregoning received a BA in Fine Art from Falmouth University in 2011. Her work has been featured in the Discerning Eye, the National Open Art Competition, RWA and the Threadneedle Prize Exhibition. She lives and works in Cornwall.