Interview: Emily Metzger & Painting as Intuitive Performance

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Painting is the only moment when I’m just absent. That’s why my pictures are intuitive, and not overly intellectual.“

Emily Metzger didn’t grew up with an artistic background but she has always possessed a special feeling for the colors around her. Metzger expresses her creativity in abstract paintings: explosive color combinations, blurred shapes, transparent bases. She was not able to work in atelier this past year, so she spent her time producing smaller artworks at home, with she has recently started selling on Instagram

Fräulein chatted with Emily about her reasons for painting, how she creates them, and later views them:

When did your artistic career begin?

I am currently studying retail design in Düsseldorf at the Peter Behrens School of Arts. The program is a mixture of spatial communication and graphic design, always with a focus on brand concepts. Before this, I learned to work as a visual merchandiser. For my final project, I designed my very first large mirrored panel. My current studies gave me the opportunity to experiment more with space. So then the work got bigger.

When did you know you wanted to go into art?

I have always done something creative, in some form, for as long as I can remember. My mom said that I used to sit in the laundry basket and sort everything by color; I would eat gummy bears only after I sorted them into different piles. She knew that something would definitely happen between me and colors in this universe. I’ve always worked creatively and now, with my studies, I have other options: under normal circumstances, I have rooms and workshops available, and the space to let my creative energy flow.

How did you get the idea to sell your works now?

I often receive messages on Instagram from people liking my art, asking whether I want to sell them. But I never thought about it like that, because I was just doing it for myself. Now that I have been at home a lot, with all these painting supplies around me, I have produced several artworks for others. I like giving them the chance to make their home as nice as I have made mine.

What materials do you mainly work with?

The bases are always either plexiglass sheets or mirrors. I mostly paint with the idea of ​​the works being layered, or placed next to each other. The color I use is mostly acrylic paint, and transparent varnish. Sometimes I add a little water, and then all these layers of paint explode. It always becomes experimental.

Why choose plexiglas and mirrors?

I like when the surface is transparent or reflective, so the image can change in a hundred different ways, dependent upon where it is placed. I find it very exciting when the surroundings are reflected in the picture and every time you change its location, they appear like something completely new. The works that I keep at home, I regularly move from room to room, or I change their surroundings. There is not one, but many versions, of one piece.

Are there any other topics that you cover in your art?

When I paint, it’s the only time when I don’t say anything and I don’t think anything. This actually is the opposite of my personality. Painting is the only moment when I’m just absent. That’s why my pictures are intuitive, and not overly intellectual. 

 

How do you choose the color compositions?

I paint with my hands. I don’t use brushes or spatulas. It’s more like a dance or a performance and the outcome always depend on the mood I’m in. The color combinations I create with are typically colors I would not normally pair together. Very spontaneous things happen which I don’t plan beforehand.

Are there certain moods in which you paint?

I need to have time. I spread my supplies out and sometimes do a night shift. I’m more productive when it’s dark.

Do you then listen to music?

When I start painting, I mentally block out. I play my favorite bands on Spotify that I know I can listen to for hours without ever having to switch.

The word ‚abstract‘ has no clear meaning. Is there a term that you find more suitable for your artwork?

I would use the term intuitive art : compositional, free of figures, not a tangible image. That makes it more relaxed to look at because you don’t have any formed information. You can create more emotions.

Do you know how many art pieces you have created so far?

When I first started, in my teenage years, I always gave all my pieces away or started anew. The way I looked at my pictures changed often. In the last few years, I’ve made five large-format plexiglass works and easily a hundred smaller works. They are mostly living with friends and in relative’s apartments.

Is there anything else that you would like to try out? Maybe working in other materials?

These materials are something that have been with me for a long time, which have started to level off. I’ve been making more sculptural things in the last year, and album cover concepts. But the materials I use for those are mostly similar to my paintings! I could imagine making more spatial or object-heavy things. I also find that exciting.

Pictures Courtesy of Emily Metzger

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