Self Educated Swedish artist living in Stockholm, born 1979. Emma is mostly known for her colorful portraits and paintings in large format inspired by the Street Art Genre. Her first solo exhibition outside Sweden was held at the Shoreditch Town Hall in London, February 2013. Half the exhibition was sold before opening reception. In April 2013 the painting "Dijle", sold to a private collector in Luxemburg, was handpicked and featured by curator Rebecka Wilson at Saatchi Gallery Online. During 2013, Emmas paintings have been sold all over Europe.
Interview by Francesca Wilkins, London Impressions March 2013
How do you choose who to paint?
I don’t know exactly… All I know is that I love the human face. You can read so much about a person by simply looking at them closely… what they’ve been though, everything. I love the challenge of finding a specific detail in a person’s face which tells me something about their personality. I don’t really plan who I’m going to paint, I’ll be walking down the street and I’ll fall in love with someone’s characteristics: I love ears, big noses, eyes, and faces with a lot of character. It’s usually much more interesting to paint someone who isn’t “perfect”. And if they are, I’ll often make a change somewhere, to make them more real to me. I’m not interested in painting images which look like photographs. I want to express people’s personality, or even their soul, through the colours I see when I look at them.
A few of your subjects had a very glamorous look to them, but others had, for me, more honest, more intense expressions… how do you get your subjects to sit for you like that?
I used to work exclusively with live models sitting for me, until I realised how exhausting it was for the both of us. Nowadays I only work from photographs, and I’m quite picky about how they should be. I give each of my subjects a list of my requirements, the most important being that they stare straight into the camera, and look absolutely natural. Getting people to feel comfortable is the most challenging thing, without them trying to look cute or cool. In photographs where they’re trying too hard, I feel that, in a way, people’s personalities die. One girl really left an impression on me, I was so certain that she was going to send me a pretty picture with makeup layered on her face, posing and pouting for the camera… But when I received her photograph she was so amazingly beautiful: she had taken a picture of herself one morning, without any makeup, and you could see that she had just woken up. She almost looked older than she did in reality. I was really surprised by the honesty of her photograph, and I’m sure this is the reason for which I love her portrait so much.
Do you think that the concept of individual identity has changed in recent times, because of social networks? Could this have an impact on art, in particular when it comes to portraits?
I’m convinced that today’s endless opportunities of open publishing have changed the approach we have towards appearances. Through social networks and such, people – especially attention-seeking youths – can show off their entire life to anyone who’s interested. Just like that, without thinking. I’m not sure how this affects society’s idea of portrait art, but what I have noticed is that many of my portraits are used as profile pictures on Facebook or Instagram… Maybe because now that it’s so easy to publish your own images, it has become a bit boring to show the “exact” you. By displaying a painting instead of a photograph, you might feel like you’re showing a different side to yourself, as it were, an opportunity to be more mysterious."…Read More