Emma Coyle | Issue Seven Interview

Emma Coyle | London

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your work?

I was educated in Dublin Ireland, and after a short stay in NYC I lived in Dublin for a few years before moving to London in 2006. I have always enjoyed the process of making and have a strong interest in learning as much as possible about art history, art forms and other artists. Over the last 16 years in particular my work has greatly progressed and I now work in painting, installations, print and photography.

What set you off as an artist?

I think it was just that interest in the process of making art.

Tell us about the themes you pursue in your work

My current photography deals with abstraction and negative space where as my abstract painting installations deal in minimalism and the breaking down of images.

My figurative Pop paintings are about taking my interest and knowledge of first wave 1950’s American Pop art and using this as a starting point to create paintings of a more contemporary view.

What art do you most identify with ? any specific influences or research areas?

I cannot say that I identify with one particular art form at this stage. My interest in first wave Pop artists like Claus Oldenberg and James Rosenquist came nearly 20 years ago. But from traveling each year, continually reading about art history and current artist news, and visiting exhibitions each month over so many years, my interests in different art forms and artists have grown. I travel to Scandinavia each year and have a strong interest in 19th Century artists such as Pader Balke, Harold Sohlberg, Pekka Halone and Akseli Gallen-Kallela. But I also particularly like contemporary artists James Turrell, Michael Heizer, Mary Corse and Lisa Brice just to name a small few. I follow a lot of galleries in London and keep on mailing lists of international galleries which feeds my interest in individual artists.

Is there something you couldn't live without in your studio? what is your most essential tool?

Probably my notebooks. As an artist we are always thinking, you never can completely ‘turn off’, so it is very important to be able to even just scribble down anything quickly to review later. It is particularly important to me when I am working ahead of time on a new installation piece. The process for these pieces takes months of thought and preparation before materials put together to work with.

Tell us how you organise, plan, and prioritise your work

For the last three years I seem to be working on particular work according to the time of year. My building of abstract installation work seems to work best from during February/March as I cannot do any other work while these are being made. I tend to focus on my photography work from May-October when the light is the best. I have been growing specific flowing plants for the last two years which I use for my photography work. And with using a Polaroid and 1930’s original Soho London camera I need as much light as possible to have heavy contrasts in the images. I have only started a new body of woodblock printing this summer and have been producing everything outdoors, I will see where this leads towards the end of the year. My figurative Pop paintings are in constant progression from April to the following January. For my figurative work I am constantly collecting images from print magazines, whether I am working on an on-going series of paintings or not. Every few years I carefully select and group images together to start working on a series of drawings. I work with groups of drawings for months at a time to manipulate the image, and then continue through to painting.

How do you navigate the art world?

Keeping up to date on current art news internationally is very easy with artnews.com as it covers everything. And then locally in London just getting out and going to see art is so important. You cannot capture an exhibitions atmosphere online, it just doesn’t work.

Describe the trajectory of your career as an artist so far

I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to be a household name as an artists. I am a very private person so people just knowing my art is all I have ever work towards. The only social media I use in LinkedIn. It has been a steady success of shows and publicity since moving to London 13 years ago. Of course it is hard work and the most important element is always the work itself.

Professionally, what is your goal?

When you reach a certain point after a substantial number of years working within art, when the work you are producing is strong and you are working on your own terms, then you have reach a huge level of success artistically and professionally. But to build on that each year is important. I have been focusing on America for the past year and will continue to work towards building an audience there too.

Are there any upcoming exhibitions or projects in the works?

I have been extremely busy this year already with project shows online and in galleries. I currently have work in two online exhibitions. I have Pop paintings in Israeli Art Market’s summer show and this week I received an Honorary Mention Award from America’s J.Mane Gallery for my abstract installation ‘Linear Abstraction’ which is included in their current ‘Abstraction 2019’ show.

In my studio I am continuing with painting and print work and in September after 16 years I will be back printing photographs in my own darkroom.

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