Eli Thorne is an Oakland based artist. He was born in Harrogate, England, and raised in Santa Cruz, California. He received his BFA in Art Practice from UC Berkeley and later received his MFA from Mills College. Eli's art practice is an exploration of adolescent and adult male identity in a contemporary masculine culture. As a trans man, his work aims to reconcile and negotiate his own sense of and relationship to masculinity. His work has shown in a variety of spaces in the Bay Area; Southern Exposure, Double Strength for Gallery 16, Incline Gallery and Royal Nonesuch Gallery.
Eli Thorne’s paintings represent a rich imaginative world filled with symbols and allegory that incorporate both autobiographical and fabricated narratives. Using his personal experiences as a trans man, his work explores the notion of a lost boyhood, expressing regrets, fears, and nostalgia for a time in his life he never had.
Thorne’s works are often depictions of natural landscapes wherein masculine and androgynous superhero-like figures, powerful animals, and emblems of contemporary trans life all occupy a fantastical space. The compositions of his paintings are driven by intuition rather than logic, and evoke sentiments of love, tenderness, death, energy, force, and power all at once. A mythological character acting as a queer ancestor/oracle appears numerous times, suggesting the work is part of an overall parable. Viewed as a whole, this body of work is representative of Thorne’s psychological and spiritual process of reconciling what his own boyhood could have been like.