Emma’s Bio: Lebanese artist Born 1983, Emma studied fine art at Lebanese University. Recently Zico House hosted her exhibition at its third floor… She Participated in many collective exhibitions Sursok museum, Unesco Palace, CCF, Goethe Institute, Chahine Gallery, MSCC, T-Marbouta,…Emma main interest is the human figure, she likes to enter her work with certain uncertainties, or in her words “I’m more interested in the process that takes place. It’s very enjoyable and surprising how ugly a painting can look before later stages of refinement when it evolves, matures and shifts toward unpredictable results.”
LR: Emma How did you get interested in art? I know you are studying art at the Lebanese University.
EH: True, but before that, I studied accounting.
LR: Accounting! really! How come?
EH: I got my degree in accounting 9 years ago, and now its somewhere at home. Coming to think of it, accounting seems rather an odd choice, but it helped me to be more certain of my current choices. I am going for another degree in art.
LR: When did you finish university?
EH: This year I finished. I am considering having my master’s degree in the year to come.
LR: Who do you consider to be some of your favorite artists?
EH: Too Many and diverse to mention them all, I love Rambrandt, Basquiat, Hockney, Schiele, Bacon,…
LR: Would you consider these to have inspired you in any way?
EH: Of course, my work is a product of who I am, including the art works I love. My inspiration could be a book, a movie, or a silly daily accident… However what really inspires me is that surprising grandeur and distortion of human figure, captured forever, in a photo as a moment passes by. My Sources and subject matter are often based on old family albums, newspaper photographs or film stills for instance.
LR: You know Emma, your paintings have a character as if they are still sketches. This is a character that I am extremely attracted to in a painting. I myself have been trying to achieve this in many my recent work, that is why I like you paintings so much. I think that this character provides a sense of liberty, what do you think?
EH: True enough, though a lot of work goes into the painting, yet it maintains this character; it is kind of done, but not finished.
LR: What about the script you insert into your paintings?
EH: Some paintings induce words, others don’t. Same thing with titles; Some paintings remain untitled, others get a hold of their own titles along.
LR: Do you write in English or Arabic on your paintings?
EH: Mainly English, Perhaps because it carries no visual heritage I find it easier to write with and more fluid. Sometimes the idea comes in English, and to translate would make it lose something.
LR: What about the medium that you paint with?
EH: I love playing with mixed media, each medium has its own character and conveys different feelings. Oils and Acrylics as well… I feel that acrylic is easier to use and manipulate. Oils, though I am addicted to the smell, take a lot of time to dry, and I have very little patience.
LR: What about the subject of your painting.
EH: My key interest is mainly the human figure. Lately, I began investigating the part of the body that most characterizes the individual, the face and intimacy of the eye. Whether fixing their penetrating gaze on the viewer, who feels compelled to return the look, closed as in sleep, open or blind; the eyes are always a visionary organ, one that can be directed both inward and outward, But must be given help to see. My portraits in my latest exhibition literally close their eyes allowing endless speculation about what is going on in their heads.
LR: You know, I had a sketch series about sleeping once. I used to commute from Manhattan to Queens, and I used to take train 7. Train 7 goes from Manhatten to Queens, stops, and goes back. People who worked night shifts, would get to Port Authority, sleeping on the subway, and they would not wake up, and then go back in the loop.
EH: Such a relationship as you are describing was my concern, where the observer no longer has the privilege of a central point of view. Instead he is being excluded or functioning as a mere bystander.
It all started from an old photo of my mother. That was the trigger for that set. As I progressed, the facial expressions grew softer, and the compositions were stripped from distracting details into bare, more transparent and translucent ones.
LR: What about the size of your paintings?
EH: Whatever I have available. The larger the better, because I have more space to enjoy and experiment.
LR: What about your upcoming projects?
EH: I have plans to participate in some collective exhibitions… Other than that I started experimenting new approaches at a larger scale.
LR: How large?
EH: About 2 meters x 3 meters, on many different surfaces. These are tending more to the crafts category in terms of its overall spirit; fabric, threads and so on…
LR: How do you finance your work?
EH: Although art in Lebanon is -to some extent- not an appreciated choice, I find the very act of painting rather rewarding.
Lately I started working in some sort of an art lounge which is fun, but unfortunately takes lots of my energy and time. Hopefully with persistence and luck I might be able to finance my work individually.
LR: Emma, thank you very much for your time.
EH: Thanks Maroun, and Best of luck for LebRecord.