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Catching Up With Street Artist, EMA

October 22nd, 2010 · 3 Comments

Florence Blanchard, aka EMA, is a painter, street artist and biologist who resides in Paris. EMA and I met last year through the Chocolate and I show when she was still living in New York. Since EMA moved back to her native France she’s continued her large-scale street-art which prominently features her mustachioed character, “Dropman.”

You’re an artist and you have a PhD in biology. What kinds of jobs/projects are you working on these days?

I’m mainly working on large scale paintings in abandonned places around Paris and England, which I document on my blog EMARAMA. I’m also wheatpasting in the streets and producing canvasses and screen prints for a couple of shows in the UK. One of the main themes I’m exploring is synchrotronic waves, which have been appearing in my work for the past year or so. The inspiration for painting these takes its roots in recent scientific physics experiments, which have been conducted in Europe on particule collision. More than the actual science behind these investigations, I have been intrigued by the popular fear of ‘black holes’, which it triggered in the media back in 2008. In my work, the synchrotronic waves represent an abstract scenery for figurative components – the geeky mustachioed characters in the shape of a drop.

You don’t hear of a lot of women making street art. How did you get involved?

Actually, these days I think you hear of a lot of women making art in the street. It’s way different from when I started painting graffiti 20 years ago. I got involved with the graffiti scene because I couldn’t find anything else better to belong to at that time. I had a strong urge for creating visuals and as a ‘proper teenager’, I didn’t want to belong to a mainstream scene, so it happened this way. I’m always happy to paint with other women, so I’m glad to see more of them around these days.

You started out doing street art but more recently took up painting. What was the transition like?

I’ve always been painting – either in the street or on canvas, so I wouldn’t say there was ever a switch between ‘street art’ and ‘painting’. I find the best way to keep it moving is to always try out new things. Generally a new technique comes with new ideas and inspiration. I started having gallery shows in the past few years and needed to paint on smaller surfaces so I decided to use paint brushes. You can really paint fine details with a brush, so I made very detailed tiny pieces or very technical bigger figurative pieces. These days I’m trying to loosen up with the technique, and come back to a more raw and natural flow.

Is there a story behind the cone-headed mustached man who appears in a lot of your work?

The ‘cone-headed mustached man’ was recently baptised ‘Dropman’. He is shaped as a drop and generally falls off a synchrotronic wave. I started wheatpasting Dropmen in Paris and London after I moved out of New York. They are an evolution of a series of portraits I wheatpasted in New York. I also paint them much larger in abandonned warehouses and buildings using spray paint and bucket paint.

You lived in Brooklyn for almost a decade but recently moved to Paris. How do the independent art scenes differ?

When you live in Brooklyn, I feel you are in a bit of a bubble – constantly trying to make a living while being surrounded by creative people from all boards. Sometime you don’t really have the time or energy to follow what’s happening elsewhere. When I moved to Paris this year I was surprised to find out the street art/ graffiti scene had been hit hard by recognition from the collectors’ world. When you talk to street artists in Paris they mention ‘auction houses’ a lot, and some of them make a lot of money while some others don’t.

Although it’s really cool for these artists to finally make some money, it also has deleterious effects on the independant and DIY spirit that once started the graffiti and street art scenes. Beyond that, I was happy to find other female painters, I can go painting with, which was not really the case when I left France in 2001.

Celebrating the Good Stuff: Art & Chocolate

February 9th, 2010 · 2 Comments

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day decadence, folks in NYC should stop by Chocolate & I, a week-long event celebrating chocolate, food and art in the city.

Paintings and installation by Ema. Photo by The City Sweet Tooth

Chocolate & I exhibit, Food for Art. Art for Thought. showcases a wide range of multidisciniplinary art around the common theme of chocolate. Artists were invited to explore the personal and societal relationships with the celebrated food, and the result is an integrated mash-up of sculpture, installation, video, and painting.

My personal favorites are Michelle Mayer’s gold-leafed chocolate bullets referencing the industry’s ties to violence and Ema‘s astonishingly imaginative Hedonistic Cloud (see photo above).  Many participating artists including Elim Chang, Wang and Levy of  CW&T, Jason Krugman, Meng Li and Michelle Mayer are affiliated with the creative hotbed known as NYU’s ITP.

Another noteworthy participant, Brooklyn-based artisinal chocolatier Fine & Raw, sets the bar for exquisite design and packaging.