London-based British-French artist Emma Neuberg is a painter and installation artist. Best known for her abstract paintings that are likened to Joan Mitchell and Joan Snyder, her work radiates an effervescent aura in stretched and draped canvases capturing the cultures in which she works.
The tension between abuse and escapism drives Neuberg’s vision. The meta-narrative in her work represents the thwarted voice in society and focuses on those caught in oppressive, abusive cultures. Neuberg’s concerns include the consequential effects of culturally-obstructed access and opportunities and the ensuing and cumulative effects of these. She reveals, exposes and explodes the mute, suppressed spaces where cultural obstruction compounds exclusion, exploitation, ambivalence, assumption, projection, assault, dismissal, denial, murder, invisibility, poverty and the physical and mental health consequences of these: the overlapping vertices of intersectionality. Neuberg is currently working on a project called Metabolizing Abuse supported by the Speranza Foundation in Los Angeles and uses color, spontaneous mark-making and digital pattern writ large to describe these states.
Her works are in the public collections of ChelseaSpace, London, (UK), Central Saint Martins’ College of Art & Design, London, (UK), Peloponnese Folklore Foundation, Nafplion, (Greece) and the private collections of Grayson Perry, London, (UK), Simon Wilson London, (UK), FKP Art Collection, Athens, (Greece), and Molly Barnes, Los Angeles, (USA).
The artist describes her paintings as activating works. They present a cognitive, gestural process that culminates in color-rich canvases that emit a powdery glow with blended colors and vibratory effects. She uses an unique painting technique that she developed whilst at the Royal College of Art in London, in the late 1990s, and favors patterned and textured ground fabrics over traditional Dutch linen. She paints, prints and soaks cotton, paper and polyester to stretch, suspend, glow, reflect, radiate, animate and speak in volumes.
Saff Williams, curator at Studio 7 Projects, host to Frieze Academy London, wrote of Neuberg’s solo show, Drapes, at Aldgate Tower, East London, in 2018:
“Drapes is an immersive forest of twenty fabric folds patterned with brightly bold and textured foliage, bringing the outside world in. Totems to the natural world, this installation subtly breathes in the space as the geometric artworks softly flutter in the breeze and move the viewer’s eye from the artworks’ surface to their abstracted depths.”
Neuberg’s most recent solo show, Emma Neuberg: Memory of Colour, took place at The Forge, Craft Central UK, in East London in 2019. Curated by Helen Kemp (Somerset House), the British charity presented an immense, site-specific installation of her most famous work to date, Drape, measuring 13 x 6 x 68 feet (4m x 2m x 21m) set alongside large pastels and oil paintings dating 2014 – 19. Shown together for the first time, the works communicate a searing, luminescent glow and radiant statement of intent against oppression, cronyism and denial in the steely blue shadows of the Victorian ship-building yard.
From 1995, Neuberg studied at the the Royal College of Art, London, and in 2000 was awarded a PhD in Printing Methods for Synthetic Materials. At the RCA, she worked alongside Ron Arad, Julien MacDonald, Alice Temperley and Vivienne Westwood in the School of Materials and has worked with color and print technologies ever since. Neuberg enjoys several technical awards from TechTextil (Germany), Textile Institute (UK) and National Endowment for the Science Technology and Arts (UK) for her innovations with color and fabric. Her London studio features as the backdrop for the HBO/BBC series Civilizations (a remake of Kenneth Clarke’s BBC TV original) for its color section presented by Philip Ball, author of the seminal Bright Earth: Art and the Invention of Color.
In 2000, she was awarded a Sir Winston Churchill Lifetime Fellowship (UK) for her contribution to Industrial Print Technologies for the Arts. In 2012, she was selected for the Young Masters’ Art Prize UK by the Cynthia Corbett Gallery in London and, in 2016, was named one of Britain’s New Fabric Designers by Becky Sunshine for The Observer Magazine and The Guardian.
Since 2000, she has been a visiting lecturer at Central Saint Martins, Chelsea College of Art & Design, Royal College of Art, Russell Group and the V&A Museum.
Her first group show in the UK, Artists as Rugmakers, was with Ben Nicholson, Winifred Nicholson, Tim Nicholson, Louisa Creed, Kaffe Fassett, Roderic Hill and EQ Nicholson. The UK touring exhibition, in 1994 – 95, heralded the synthesis of British Modernism and textiles in the first and only show of its kind.
Building upon her combined creative, pedagogic and industrial vision, Neuberg is also Founding Director of Textiles Hub London, a collective of international resident artists and designers working with materials in diverse and exciting ways.
In 2020, she was recipient of the prestigious Arts Council England Development Award for Painting into Textiles, a project affording opportunities to develop new large installations and, in 2020 and 2021, she is a Lincoln City Fellow in Los Angeles for her latest gesamtkunstwerk project.
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Photo credit: C. Schek