A one week solo show at our rather intimate East London art space known as Cultivate, Vyner Street, Fleshed opens this coming Thursday September 19th. .
On the eve of the show Emma shared some thoughts on her work and such. I started off by asking what the women in the series of eleven paintings meant to a slightly uncomfortable artist – an artist who, if the truth is known, would rather not answer any questions about her paintings ….
The women in my paintings are ‘everywomen’, to me they are what it feels like to be female, they are alive, ordinary, feeling, thinking, expressive women, with a flow of emotion, touch, flesh, body through the flow of paint…
Do you know these women, where do the images come from?
I don’t know these women personally but I feel I know each of them in their painted form, feeling their emotion and imagining their thoughts. They’re all painted from photographs; I was interested in trying to capture a moment in time in paint, a fleeting feeling of unknown thought, where mind and body join together, and our notion of self can disappear. The images are painted from particular sourced photographs which I thought best reflected my own imaginings. Really have to say here this is so difficult – this is really not only what the paintings are about – I know this is what they literally look like but they are about so many more things to me…. I was discussing this yesterday in fact, and felt most comfortable being able to say out loud that really my paintings are just very personal explorations, that I am trying to convey what it feels like to be a woman amongst a whole heap of other things….
Is it important that you don’t know these women, that they are anonymous to you, the painter, and to us, the viewers? Do you anticipate (I almost said expect) us to find different things, different meanings, to have different interpretations, reactions?
Yes, I really hope everyone has their own reaction and interpretation to the paintings, in fact I don’t think it’s possible to make a statement of what anyone should see, I can only comment on what I see and was trying to convey by painting them. Living with and painting these paintings over the last year I have always (and still do) discover new things in them, their meanings change to me on a daily basis, they can be interpreted in so many ways. Similarly that I can’t make a statement on what anyone should see in the paintings, it is also interesting to me that I don’t know these women – aren’t we all ultimately unknown, mis-understood and alone?
To some extent I do think we are all unknown, to really get a full understanding of anyone is pretty hard and it’s all too easy to be mis-understood. I don’t fear people will mis-understand me however I suppose am fearful that people will mis-understand my work, or just dismiss it without question. We all want a reaction from our work, be it good or bad, it’s interesting to see but the worse reaction is for there just not to be one.
This new body of work, I think, it is fair to say, is your most ambitious, and accomplished todate, are you excited by the way your art is developing? What lead to you embarking on this series of paintings?
Thanks! And yes, I am excited by my art, and art in general. If I wasn’t excited by the development of my own art, and the act of creating it, then I couldn’t continue to make it. I am certainly enjoying the self-discovery via the exploration of my ideas on canvas, although I am still trying to work out my practice and ideas fully. This particular series of paintings developed quite naturally out of work I was doing a couple of years back, I was excited by the prospect of creating these over-sized oil paintings, delving into the paint, the flesh, the emotions – I feel like I know each of them individually, to me they all alive. However these paintings also have to be a reflection of my own understanding (and discovery?) of self and self as woman.
Emma Harvey’s solo show Fleshed opens on Thursday evening (6-9 pm) September 19th at Cultivate, Vyner Street. The show is open Friday 20th September until Sunday 22nd from 11.30am until 6pm or by appointment until Wednesday 25th September.