Los Angeles and London-based British-French artist Emma Neuberg is a painter and installation artist. She is best known for her abstract paintings that have been likened to Joan Mitchell and Joan Snyder. Her work radiates an effervescent, super-flat aura in large, stretched and draped canvases capturing the cultures in which she works. The themes in her work focus on the thwarted voice in society and its experiential effects.
She describes her paintings as activating works. They represent a cognitive, gestural process that culminates in color-rich, unprimed canvases that emit a powdery glow with blended colors and vibratory power. She uses an unique painting process, printing paint, that she developed whilst in the Textiles Department at the Royal College of Art, London, in the late 1990s. The scale and dynamic in her work are attributed to her formative training in Sculpture and European Art History and her childhood in Greece, France and the UK.
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 gallery 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 communicated a searing, luminescent glow and radiant statement of intent in the steely blue shades of the former Victorian ship-builder’s yard.
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.”
A relationship between abuse and escapism underlie her vision, impetus and drive. The meta-narrative in her work addresses the thwarted voice in society and focuses on the impeded voice of those caught in oppressive and abusive cultures. Neuberg’s themes include the consequential effects of obstructed access, opportunities and existence and the ensuing vicious, cultural circles. She reveals and exposes mute, suppressed spaces where cultural obstruction compounds exclusion, exploitation, ambivalence, assumption, projection, assault, dismissal, denial, 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, move and glow.
In 2020, she is an honored recipient of an Arts Council England DYCP Award for Painting into Textiles, a project affording the opportunity to develop techniques and experimentation for large-scale installations.
Her first group show was the Great British touring exhibition, Artists as Rugmakers (1994), with Ben Nicholson, Winifred Nicholson, Tim Nicholson, Louisa Creed, Kaffe Fassett, Roderic Hill and EQ Nicholson. The exhibition heralded the synthesis of British Modernism and textiles in the first show of its kind. During the 1980s, Tim Nicholson was a stepfather figure to the artist and supported her young, artistic development.
From 1995, Neuberg studied at the the Royal College of Art, London, and in 2000 gained a PhD in Sustainable Printing Methods for Synthetic Materials. There she worked alongside Ron Arad, Julien MacDonald, Alice Temperley and Vivienne Westwood and has worked with color and print 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 color and materials. Her 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.
Since 2000, she has been a visiting lecturer at University of the Arts London, the Royal College of Art, the Russell Group and the V&A Museum (London). In 2012, she was selected for the Young Masters’ Art Prize UK and, in 2016, was named one of Britain’s New Fabric Designers by Becky Sunshine for The Observer Magazine and The Guardian online.
Neuberg is the Founding Director of Textiles Hub London, an international collective of artists and designers who work with textiles. In 2000, she was awarded a Sir Winston Churchill Lifetime Fellowship (UK) for her contribution to Industrial Print Technologies for the Arts.
In 2020 – 21, she is a Lincoln City Fellow in Southern California for her latest gesamtkunstwerk project that translates hope into large-scale, immersive environments.
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Photo credit: C. Schek