Emma Vidal is a talented young artist with a mesmerizing universe. Her practice borrows from ancient mythology and post-modern apocalyptic realms, taking the form of charcoal drawings and sculpture. The viewer gets captivated by the characters of Emma Vidal’s work, their will to survive and the vulnerability of the human body. “Art have to give new option, to disturb what usually surround us, in order to raise awareness and questionings” – shares the artist. Emma Vidal will be presenting her first Parisian solo exhibition called FERAL from the 13th of Novembre the to the 2nd of January at the Oneiro gallery.
You are from the South of France, why did you decide to move to London?
I grew up in Cassis and Marseille later on. After a year doing an Art foundation at the atelier de Sèvres, in Paris, I get accepted to study at Central Saint Martins college of Art and Design and without a second of hesitation I arrived in London!
You come from a creative family; Do you think it helped you to find your passion for art?
Definitely! My family has always been very excited about my practice and are an incredible support since a very young age. I remember well building tribes of monsters heads in clay with my mother and sister. My dad has always been playing music all around the house from Guitar to Trumpet. And I have the chance to have an incredible grand-ma who is a painter and taught me how to put life on a portrait by adding a simple geometric square of white in the corner of your subject eye.
Do you remember your first creation as a child?
The first creation I was really proud of as a child was my architectural drawing. At 8 years old, on large piece of paper taped to each other I was drawing a 3 by 3 meters large map of my future houses with my 20 kids and 50 animals (and a bedroom for each of them!)
How could you describe your practice?
Taking the form of charcoal drawings and totemic divinity sculptures, my practice explores an apocalyptic world in ruin. I construct dramatic theatrical stages questioning the vulnerability of human being in a world where humanity had gone awry.
I imagine a future world as a place whose inhabitants consist only of feral children and where Mother Nature is claiming back her own territory. Nurtured from various spiritual experiences through my catholic background, and travels. I exude a large interest in cults, rituals and religious symbolism.
The image of childhood carries the essence of humanity shared between frenetic, impetuous features and an evident fragility and vulnerability.
I have always been quite captivated by the representation of children because they are very delicate. So as soon as you see a child in an unusual surrounding it makes you wonder and think twice.
Sculpture and drawing are very different media. What attracts you to work in both mediums? What link do you create between them?
I very much enjoy the freedom of working with two different mediums, engaging two different processes of thoughts and conception. Drawing relies on the importance of balance, texture and composition smudged and powdered on a large paper space. The dramatic and archaic darkness aesthetic of my work is in line with the intense and primitive aspect of the black medium.
More than every practice, I am thrilled by the sensibility of this burn wood and its ability to transcribe emotions within a fragile and quivering stroke. Charcoal gives me the opportunity to work directly with my hands and fingertips. I therefore feel more in contact with the paper itself. Each drawing composition is unsettling a narrative visual story, travelling thought different panels and variations of textures and languages.
Moving from the free drawing space frame to the actual open space of the 3rd dimension, sculpture one the other hand, responds to the need to push forward the quest of the world I am imagining. I create fetish totemic divinities sculptures related to the voodoo practice and superstitious artefacts, depicting a new virtual form of cult venerated by this new tribe of feral children.
In my studio, I organised my time working simultaneously on a sculpture and three to four drawings. It allows me to switch quickly from one to another. My drawings influence my sculptures, and my sculptures inform my drawings. Thus, working in different medium enforces the dynamic of my practice and challenge my work by taking new roads.
Could you tell us about your creative process? How much time does it take you to finish a project?
The creative process of my practice always starts with a very simple sketch which when applied to the paper or sculpture base starts evolving by itself. The time I spend on each project vary. Sometimes a large piece can be evidence and find its balance very quickly, and a small piece can appear as a very hard task and take more than two months to be completed.
What would you call your artistic influences? How do you keep the inspiration and the ideas coming?
My practice borrows from various cultural history, personal experiences, ancient mythology and post-modern apocalyptic realms: From the classical master paintings of Poussin to the Prospero’s books by Peter Greenaway 1991, or Henry Darger’s bloody Victorians narrative frescos and Jerome Zonder’s impressive and transgressive drawings.
The inspiration is I believe something you need to continuously stimulate, and being always in search of discovering new places, films, stories and books. During my recent stay in New York City, as I was getting voluntary lost wandering in its street when I discovered one of this small second hand bookshop I particularly affectionate. I found there a book reverencing the European paintings collection of the Museum of Fine Arts of Boston all in black and white from 1970. This book is the main influence of the current series of drawings: “Portrait of a girl (said to be ______)”
What reaction to your work do you prefer?
The reaction I prefer towards my work is to see people mesmerized and full of interrogations. I believe I did my job well when people stop-look, try to understand it and come back the other day to see again! This idea that wonders and questions had grown pushing them to come back a second or a third time to have another reading of it is an amazing experience as an artist
“Art is meant to disturb” Georges Braque. Illustrated Notebooks. I very much enjoy this quote, which to me represent what is important in art. Art have to give new option, to disturb what usually surround us, in order to raise awareness and questionings. And to be someone that contribute to give another option to people, that to me the gift about being an artist.
In your opinion, what is the best part and the worst part of being an artist?
The best part of being an artist is the freedom and ability to communicate and express yourself with people by doing what you love. Living with what makes you vibrate and pushed you to wake up every morning is a beautiful gift.
However, it is not always pink and as a very solitary process, you can easily be submerged by your own doubts and thoughts. Thus, I believe being an artist is the ability to be very sensible and very strong all at the same time.
FERAL Solo Exhibition by Emma Vidal
9 Rue du Perche, 75003 Paris
13th of Novembre – 2nd of January