Spotlight

Spotlight London-based Artist Emilie Pugh

Championed by Jane Neal
The Wick - Flare detail, by Emilie Pugh
Above  Flare detail, by Emilie Pugh
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The Wick - Portrait of Emilie Pugh, photographer Kasia Wozniak
Above  Portrait of Emilie Pugh, photographer Kasia Wozniak
Interview
Emilie Pugh
18 January 2023
Interview
Emilie Pugh
18 January 2023
Considered to be one of the most knowledgeable independent curators working today in the field of painting, we couldn’t think of anybody better to write the foreword for an upcoming exhibition than Jane Neal. A view we share with Galerie Isa and artist Emilie Pugh, who tasked Neal with describing Pugh’s current exhibition ‘Patterns of Consequence’. Pugh and Neal’s connection goes back much further though.

Neal says of this week’s Spotlight artist: “I met Emilie in London in 2015. We discovered we had both attended The Ruskin School of Art at Oxford University.”
“I enjoy how there is a tension between the transient and the permanent in Pugh’s practice. The surfaces she presents are deliciously tactile. Pugh conveys the forcefulness of nature and the interconnectivity of all living things while sacrificing nothing of intricate detail or intimacy in her practice. It is as if the artist can immerse herself in the midst of nature and then tell its stories through the act of art making.”

“Pugh’s enigmatic works feel familiar and their universal shapes have their roots in our primeval past. Timeless, powerful and often deeply moving, they remind us not to lose sight of the majesty of the natural world and that we are in fact, its subject.”

Pugh not only draws inspiration from nature but borrows from science too. Experimenting with a wide range of mediums and processes, from unconventional methods of mark-making using incense sticks, soldering irons, chemicals and light, to the more conventional pen and ink, she explores the spiritual and scientific, the material and the immaterial. Though abstract, her works are based on forms and patterns found in nature, such as the Fibonacci spiral and von Kármán vortices.

Pugh says: “I am intrigued by the underlying mathematical rules that govern nature. How the movement and growth patterns within nature repeat themselves throughout the natural world from a micro to a macro scale.

“I am interested in the intersection where science and the spiritual converge, and scientific imagery from spiralling galaxies and the surface of Jupiter to Fibonacci spirals in a sunflower seed head or the dendrite-like branches in a mycelium root system.”

You can see ‘Patterns of Consequence’ at Galerie Isa in Mumbai until March 15. Pugh’s works will also be presented at The Winter Show in New York City from 20-29 January and Tefaf Maastricht from 11-19 March.

Pugh adds: “I have had two solo shows in two years, so this year ahead is going to be all about creative replenishment and experimentation.”

We can’t wait to see what that inspires.

About the champion

The Wick - Spotlight London-based Artist Emilie Pugh

Jane Neal made her reputation as a leading expert on the contemporary art scene in Eastern Europe. Through critically acclaimed exhibitions in cities across the globe from Amsterdam to Zurich, she has brought a whole generation of young artists from Romania to world attention, notably painter Adrian Ghenie, whose semi-abstract compositions set a new record at auction last year.

“Pugh conveys the forcefulness of nature and the interconnectivity of all living things while sacrificing nothing of intricate detail or intimacy.”

Place of Birth

London, but I grew up in Somerset, UK.

Education

Diploma: Byam Shaw School of Art, London
BFA: The Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford

Awards, Accolades

Shortlisted for the Oxford University Press Pirye Prize in 2009. A six-month residency at Atelierhaus Mengerzeile, Berlin between 2013-2014, and the ‘The Tree Line Residency’, Capalbio, Tuscany in 2019.

Current exhibitions

The Winter Show, Michael Goedhuis Gallery, New York City, from 20-29 January 2023, and ‘Patterns of Consequence’ solo show at Galerie Isa, Mumbai, until 15 March 2023.

Spiritual guides, Mentors

I draw peace and inspiration from nature. It centres me and gives me clarity to work in closer alignment with what I believe in. It helps me to reflect on and replenish ideas. Connection with friends, particularly artists and writers who understand the ups and downs of the creative process, buoy me and fill me with energy and optimism. When I feel I am staying in my comfort zone too much, I reach for books on artists I admire. They help me expand and think in more ambitious or playful ways.

Advice

Keep showing up.


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