LA and London-based British-French artist Emma Neuberg is a painter and installation artist. She specializes in painting with print, a technique she developed at the Royal College of Art from 1995 to 2000. She is best known for abstract, gestural paintings that have been likened to Joan Mitchell and Joan Snyder. Her work radiates an effervescent, superflat aura that captures a sense of the environments in which it is created in LA and the Cotswolds.
Neuberg’s recent show Emma Neuberg: Memory of Colour took place Spring 2019 at The Forge, Craft Central UK, in East London. Curated by Helen Kemp, the Somerset House-based curator, the gallery presented an immense, site-specific installation of Drape measuring 68ft x 13ft x 6ft (21m x 4m x 2m) set alongside large pastels and oil paintings from 2014 – 19. Together the works radiated a brilliant, illuminating glow in the steely blue shades of the former Victorian ship-building yard.
Saff Williams, curator at Studio 7 Projects, host to Frieze Academy London, wrote of Neuberg’s previous 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 describes her paintings as ‘activating works’ that represent a cognitive, gestural process that culminates in color-rich, unprimed canvases emitting a powdery glow, blended color with graphic and spacial effects. The scale and dynamism in her work are attributed to her personal experience, architectural vision, formative training in Sculpture and European Art History and a childhood in Greece, England and France. The relationship between abuse and imaginative escape underlie her creative drive and motivation.
Neuberg’s meta-narrative resonates with the thwarted voice in society and focuses on the mainstream, culturally-impeded voice of those caught in oppressive and abusive cultures. Her themes include the consequential effects of obstructed access, opportunities and existence and the ensuing vicious circles. She addresses the suppressed spaces where obstruction compounds exclusion, projection, exploitation, ambivalence, assumption, assault, dismissal, invisibility, poverty and the physical and mental health consequences of these.
Neuberg uses color, form and spontaneous mark-making to describe these states. She paints, prints and soaks cotton, linen and polyester canvases to stretch, suspend, reflect and glow.
Her first group show was the Great British touring exhibition, Artists as Rugmakers (1994), synthesizing British Modernism with textiles and exhibiting with Winifred Nicholson, EQ Nicholson, Tim Nicholson, Louisa Creed, Kaffe Fassett, Roderic Hill and Ben Nicholson. During the 1980s, Tim Nicholson was one of Neuberg’s step-father figures and supported her artistic development.
From 1995, Neuberg studied at the the Royal College of Art, London, and in 2000 gained a studio-based PhD in Sustainable Printing Methods for Synthetic Materials. There she worked alongside Andrew Logan, Ron Arad, Julien MacDonald, Alice Temperley, Anna Sui and Vivienne Westwood and has worked with colour and printing technologies ever since.
Neuberg enjoys several awards from TechTextil (Germany), Textile Institute (UK) and National Endowment for the Science Technology and Arts (UK) for her innovations with colour. Her studio features as the backdrop for the HBO/BBC series Civilizations (a remake of Kenneth Clarke’s BBC TV original) for its colour section presented by Philip Ball, author of Bright Earth: Art and the Invention of Colour. Since 2000, she has taught at University of the Arts London, the Royal College of Art and in the Digital Design Department at the V&A Museum, London, delivering bespoke courses that translate exhibits into contemporary artefacts through digital tools, archival resources and imagination.
In 2012, she was selected for the Young Masters’ Art Prize UK and was named one of Britain’s “New Fabric Designers” by Becky Sunshine for The Observer Magazine and The Guardian in 2016. Neuberg is also founding director of Textiles Hub London, an international collective of artists and designers based in London working with textiles.
In 2000, she was awarded a Sir Winston Churchill Lifetime Fellowship for her contribution to Industrial Printing Technologies for the Arts, UK. In 2019 – 20, she became an honored recipient of an Arts Council UK DYCP Award for Painting into Textiles, a new project affording the opportunity to develop techniques and experimentation for large-scale installations.
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Photo credit: C. Schek