Interview with Emmanuelle Auzias
Emmanuelle Euzias | United States
I use painting to explore and express my innermost self. Layering acrylic paint and mixed media, I create a balance between the quiet and the chaotic. This creates contrast in the frame as the work oscillates from moments of intensity to empty space. Like a person’s shifting moods throughout the day, I go from one extreme to the other, finding solace in the absence of noise.
With a background in psychology and art therapy, I tap into my unconscious for all to see, forging an open relationship between myself and the viewer. As I slowly build up my materials onto the canvas, I carve out secret paths to my inner world, leaving clues for the viewer to unravel. I use color, line, and shape to reveal the parts of myself that are less conducive to language, thus asking the viewer to read between the lines. Less about the destination and more of a journal of my emotions, I push the boundaries of abstract art, finding the personal in the non-representational.
Contemporary Art Station: Tell us about how you got started. When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
I was born in Marseilles, France, and have spent my life conversing between cultures due to my parents’ different origins. My father was born in Corsica, a rugged, wild island in the Mediterranean Sea, while my mother was from the cool, lofty Swiss Alps. After a first high education curriculum in Computer Sciences and several years occupying Engineer positions in France, I returned to college and graduated in 2007 from French Universities with a major in Psychology since I am passionate about the human brain and its impact on our behavior. It was around that time that I started studying Art in Marseille with Dutch artist Nathalie Pijls. At first, painting was more of a way to relax and escape the stress of my everyday busy life and I focused on figurative paintings of the human body, inspired by my love of contemporary dance. However, as the months and years passed, it slowly became a passion and a way to express myself and my creativity. I have always had this creative side to my personality which took different forms all along my life such as dance, singing, sculpting and then painting. Ultimately, it was when I moved from the South of France to Denver, Colorado in 2012, that I was finally able to fully bring out this artistic side of my personality. I could free my mind and devote myself to Art making as a way to express my emotions while adapting to cultural differences and language barriers. This has enriched my passion for communicating with others through art. For me, this could only be done through Abstract Art, so I started taking many classes and workshops at the Art Student League of Denver and also Art Therapy classes at the Colorado School for Family Therapy in order to link my psychology background to my art practice.
CAS: What is your process like, from initial idea to the creation of the piece? Do you usually develop the idea for a project before you find the "canvas", or vice versa?
I build my pieces from the bottom to the top, using acrylic paint, charcoal, graphite, pastel, oil stick, ink, markers and other media. These allow me to play with different textures, and with them, I first lay a lot of marks on my canvas, following my intuition instead of specific patterns. My marks can be bold or timid, rough or smooth, reminiscing scars on a body. It is like the canvas has its own story, with bad and good souvenirs and I can start having a discussion with it. I do not choose the shapes first, instead I choose the color scheme, and I let it guide the art making process. I usually decide what my dominant and supportive colors will be depending on my feeling or the message I want to convey. I prefer to use saturated color schemes that give more contrast and vibrancy like the triadic or the split-complementary. When the mark-making process becomes too chaotic, I try to calm down and think about what I like the most, what tells me something strong and what I want to keep hidden like the buried secrets we all have. It is in this part of the art process making that I pay more attention to the composition and the elements of design. From this point on, the shapes that have appeared, often more organic than geometric, start guiding me and I try to connect them to create a more harmonious piece. Throughout this process, I like to see the layers underneath, so I use a glaze medium mixed with the acrylic paint. This way, my painting has more depth and I can play with the level of transparency in order for different stories to emerge depending on how far the viewer is. I like to imagine people exploring the entire surface of the canvas and let their imagination fly everywhere, like rediscovering every detail of the body of their loved one. In the end, my goal with each painting is to reach a balance between the chaos created by the many marks and the quietness achieved through more plain areas. I want to obtain a true expression of myself, energetic and bright, and an aesthetically beautiful piece where the eyes can wander and always find new details.
CAS: What do you love most about your creative process?
I never know before starting how the final result would look like! it gives me a lot of freedom.
CAS: What role does art and the artist play in the broader social conversation today?
The artist doesn't play necessary conscientiously a social role in the society, but it is true that reflecting himself through art is in a way reflecting the society or at least a part of it, like pieces of a big puzzle.
Personally, my goal is to promote art everywhere and to everybody, pursuing the motto 'make art, not war'.
CAS: Name a few of your favourite artists and influences.
The Abstract Expressionism movement after the World War II affected me a lot in the way I paint. I really like to learn about it through books and exhibitions. I love to know about what kind of life they had, in which political and historical content, what bring them to Art and what process they developed. My most favorite are among the Abstract Expressionist women such as Elaine De Kooning, Joan Mitchell, Lee Krasner, Perle Fine and Marry Abbott. I also find my inspiration from Jackson Pollock, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Pierre Alechinsky and Clifford Still among others. Recently, during two exhibitions in France, I was astonished in front of the paintings of Nicolas de Stael and Frantisek Kupka who is today considered as one of pioneer of Abstraction.
The other artists I really enjoy are Matisse, Kandinsky, Klimt, Picasso and also Gauguin, Van Gogh and Frida Kahlo.
That said, I always try to find my own way and my own inspiration. I like to imagine that those masters are vibrant stars watching me from the universe and this idea encourages me in doing Art the best way I can.
CAS: What is the best advice you received as an artist?
To have a genuine conversation with my painting to find a way toward a true and authentic express of myself.
CAS: When did you discover your voice as an artist?
When I moved to Denver, Colorado in 2012.
CAS: What advice would you give to emerging artists trying to find their own?
Keep listening this little voice: “Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” Quote from Andy Warhol.
Thank you Emmanuelle!