LA and London-based British-French artist Emma Neuberg is a painter and installation artist. 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 stretched and draped canvases and tapestries capturing the cultures in which she works.
Her work resides in the public collections of Central Saint Martins’ UAL Collection, London, (UK), ChelseaSpace Collection, 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).
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.”
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 color and vibratory effects. She uses an unique painting technique that she developed whilst at the Royal College of Art, London, in the late 1990s, and favors patterned and textured ground fabrics over traditional Dutch linen.
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 communicated a searing, luminescent glow and radiant statement of intent against oppression and corruption in the steely blue shades of the former Victorian ship-builder’s yard.
Her following show at Molly Barnes’ gallery in Los Angeles, due to open in 2020, that presents exciting new works on patterned canvas is postponed due to the pandemic.
The tensions between abuse and escapism drive Neuberg’s vision. The meta-narrative in her work addresses thwarted voices in society and focuses on those caught in oppressive and abusive cultures. Neuberg’s themes include the consequential effects of obstructed access, opportunities and existence and the ensuing, cumulative, vicious circles. She reveals and exposes the mute, suppressed spaces where cultural obstructions compound 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 elucidate these states and paints, prints and soaks cotton, linen and polyester to stretch, suspend, glow, reflect, radiate and speak.
Her first group show in the UK was alongside Ben Nicholson, Winifred Nicholson, Tim Nicholson, Louisa Creed, Kaffe Fassett, Roderic Hill and EQ Nicholson. The UK touring exhibition, Artists as Rugmakers, 1994 – 95, heralded the synthesis of British Modernism and textiles in the first and only show to date of its kind.
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 Material studio and has worked with color and innovative 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 material. 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 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 V&A Museum.
Building upon her creative, pedagogic and industrial vision, Neuberg is the Founding Director of Textiles Hub London, a collective of international resident artists and designers working with materials in varied and exciting ways. In 2020, she was recipient of the prestigious Arts Council England Award for Painting into Textiles, a project affording opportunities to develop new large installations and, in 2020 – 21, she is a Lincoln City Fellow in Los Angeles for her latest gesamtkunstwerk project.
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Photo credit: C. Schek