“View” Greg Emery Painting
‘View,’ Acrylic on Reflective Fabric, 44”x44”
Artist Bio & Artist Statement Spring 2020
My works and world are inherently imperfect: purposefully paradoxical marriages between simplicity and complexity, clarity and confusion. Using sheer physicality to drag paint into and across the thin surface, allowing the colors and individual marks of each grain to interact with one another on a muslin base in ways that are both entirely intentional, yet also left slightly to chance. Each of my pieces contain a unique, yet often limited, color palette, often inspired by unexpected sources. Derived from things I see in everyday life, a movie scene, sunset, food or even a rusted dumpster. Through powerful and at times disparate color selections and movements, I seek to awaken something primal within my viewers. Triggering associations both intended and unexpected, allowing the viewer to continuously enjoy the works with their own, ever-evolving interpretations.
While painting, I use squeegees and pieces of wood to apply layers of acrylic, inherently plastic, on a thin muslin ground. I use sheer physicality to drag paint into and complicating two simple shapes, allowing the colors and individual marks of each grain to interact with one another in ways that are both entirely intentional, yet also left slightly to chance. I am deeply invested in the process that falls somewhere in between a quiet meditation and an athletic event. I revel in the fact that the finished piece appears like it could have been made by a machine or is quite possibly a print, while closer interaction reveals layers and connections, threads and I hope, beauty that is imbued sincerity, purpose and revels in humanity.
My gestural marks are born from a lifetime of drawing, mark making and attempts to capture fleeting moments as they pass by. When I was a kid, riding in the backseat, I used to marvel at the other cars passing by and how marvelous worlds like that of my own family were passing by in these rectangular boxes. When traveling and seeing more people on a single bridge than live in my entire spacious ‘town’ this revelatory feeling was amplified. The paintings are a way to distill these ideas, make sense of or even to simply meditate on them. Painting for me is a mystical endeavor and, at the best of times, an enlightening one.
My own inspirations combine western mystical experiences with my Quaker grandmother, being raised by wonderfully driven parents who were connected with each other as well as the community, growing up a mile outside the Mohawk reservation along the Canadian border and a long time study of and within Eastern cultures, particularly Zen traditions and the Gutai Movement in Japan. In the end, I am trying to let my inward actions guide my outward actions, while not trying. Being perfectly human, which is ultimately imperfect.
Gregg Emery was born and raised in Bombay, NY, a small rural community alongside the Mohawk reserve that straddles the border of the U.S. and Canada. After completing an apprenticeship at the Fabric Workshop in Philadelphia and completing graduate work at the Maryland Institute, College of Art, Emery worked in the mountains of Japan to assist in the construction of a house and art studios for a residence program there.
For the past 20 years, Emery has called New York City his home. He maintains a studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn while living and teaching on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He is the Head of Visual Arts & Art History at the Trinity School, a prestigious K-12 independent school where he also teaches painting and drawing.
Emery continues a practice of drawing people for himself and for several venues around the New York and abroad. Most notably, for the Poetry Brothel, an interactive, immersive theater experience that started in New York and is now featured in 26 cities worldwide. He has been the ‘official painter’ in New York since 2014 (which tours up and down the east coast) and has appeared in shows in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Rejkyavik, LA, Austin and San Diego. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Poetry Society of New York.
The past couple of years have been particularly strong for Emery as he has received critical acclaim for exhibits around the globe. From Brussels to Beijing and back again. Emery has traveled extensively for inspiration and to exhibit his work, most notably a residency and a solo show in Beijing in 2017. Since that time, Emery was commissioned and completed an 8,000 sq ft mural around a pool on Roosevelt Island that was featured in Time Out NY, the Gothamist and was listed by The New York Post as one of the top ‘instragrammable places of the summer.’ Notably, Emery was selected to exhibit in the 10th Annual Governors Island Art Fair, dubbed by the New York Times as the Art Fair of the 99%. From there it was off to Brussels and the Cube Art Fair, where his paintings could be viewed alongside the work of Chuck Close and other American greats. This past year Emery’s work was featured at Scope Art Fair during Miami Art Basel week and was also shown in Art New York at Pier 94 in the previous spring. Lastly, they also appeared prominently in Season 2 of the widely acclaimed TV Show, ‘The Last O.G.’ His work is a part of numerous public and private collections including White & Case LLP, The American Copper Building, Brickyard Retreat at Mutianyu Great Wall, The Fabric Workshop & Museum and the Baltimore Museum of Art.