Fascinated by the technical aspects of painting, Alex Emsley (b.1973) devotes his practice to a rigorous and methodical observation of the procedures employed by painters for centuries in the creation of convincing illusions. A dimension of painting he feels has become somewhat overlooked in contemporary practices, Emsley revisits these empirical techniques and approaches within the tradition of the still life or vanitas painting. Simple arrangements of objects – ranging from luxurious floral bouquets to jars of candy and toy cars – depicted in rigorous detail, become pretexts for a quasi-scientific engagement with paint and its various applications. Colour, surface and light become paramount, allowing the artist and viewer a welcome retreat to the senses and return to the enduring satisfaction and wonder of mimesis.
Selected exhibitions from the artist’s twenty year career to date include The Art of Humanity (Pratt Institute, New York, USA, 2016); Masterpiece (Johans Borman Gallery, Cape Town, 2016); Map of the New Art (Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice, Italy, 2016); Anyway the Wind Blows (Brundyn+, Cape Town, 2015); The Art of Humanity (Casa dei Carraresi, Treviso & Museo Bilotti, Rome, Italy, 2015); Still (Johans Borman Gallery, Cape Town, 2014); Material Representation (Brundyn+, Cape Town, 2013); The Seeing Eye (Brundyn+, Cape Town 2012) and Verf (Blank Projects, Cape Town, 2009).