Artist Talk with Emki

By Amit Kanfi 

19 May, 2022

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'Big momma', 2022

Acrylic spray paint charcoal chalk and oil pastel on cotton canvas 

100x100x3.5cm

Tell us about yourself. 

 

I’m 28, live and work in Wallasey, just over the river from Liverpool. It’s a small town and it’s quite slow paced, not much changes. I like to keep things simple, less distractions. 

    

Where did your passion for art begin?

 

It began when I was young, drawing next to my dad while he was working on his architectural drawings. I drew from cartoons like most kids, but I liked to mix them together and make new ones. I was obsessed with making them battle, having a cause for them to fight for. I felt a moral agency within what I was doing and I think I’ve carried that into my practice, in both subtle and obvious ways as I’ve grown.  I didn’t start painting until I was around 15 and haven’t really stopped since. 

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How would you describe your work to someone?

It’s simple but in its simplicity it draws the eye to the subjects, the icons, and forces me to find a meaning.The white backdrop to my work is a conscious decision as it isolates these forms  directing further focus toward the subject. 

I want to express the emergence of these figures as personified fragments of my perceived self: The good parts,  the bad parts, the dreams and the fears. I want to mythologise them and bring them into the same plane of coexistence, a representation of my inner world.

 

The figures, marks, colours - they all become tangible within the space.

'Awakened spirit armour' , 2021

Acrylic spray paint oil bar and chalk on cotton canvas 

122x92x2cm

What are you currently working on?

 

I’m currently working on some larger scale paintings. I’m trying to create a shift in my works, having worked quite small for a while now. I feel it’s the next necessary step to take as I need the drama that a larger format  provides. 

      

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'My manifolding spirit armour mk2: raijin mode', 2022

Acrylic and spray paint on canvas 

120x100x3.5cm

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'My manifolding spirit armour', 2022

Acrylic and spray paint on canvas 

122x92x2cm

When you start a new work or project, do you plan what you’re going to create or do you improvise? 

 

I make some loose sketches and ideas for my larger works but there’s never a completed concept before I set about actually doing it.. 

I’d say my practice is disorganised and chaotic. I start lots of shit and if I get frustrated I’ll start new stuff, then return when I notice that something needs addressing or something clicks visually. It’s all very impulsive. 

I must have a busy studio. I need to be able to move between ideas constantly. I can’t sit and paint one painting for days, it’s draining. Too much focus on one idea can dull your vision, you fail to recognise the qualities it may already have. 

 

    

Can you highlight some of your influences and discuss how your influences have made an impact on you and your practice?

When I was at uni I met an artist called Mikkel Ullah who had the most revolutionary and profound effect on me and my practice. We made quite a few collaborative pieces, often completing them in one sitting. This way of working, with quickness, immediacy and unadulterated colour has laid the foundations for what I wanted out of my own practice. She simplified things for me and allowed me to see that,  in very simple things, great things can be seen.

I would have to say that, in the contemporary setting, Robert Nava has had the most profound effect on me. I feel like he is a generational talent and one that has really stirred up the art world. He has given new life to artists, and a platform to explore their own personal mythologies and also instil a bit of magic into the art scene.

I feel other artists like Bel Fullana, Phillip Geraldo and Jordy Kerwick are cementing this new manner of figuration in art history.

 

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What are your plans for the remainder of this year?

 

Paint and Draw. I would like to enter some exhibitions and perhaps go on some residencies. We will see. But right now I’d rather spend my time working on new stuff in my studio, that’s where my focus is right now.

'Warding armour', 2022

Acrylic spray paint and charcoal on canvas 

100x75x4cm