A Working Artist’s Life, Ideas and Executions
What started off as an interest in American 1950’s Pop Art for artist Emma Coyle back in the early 2000’s, has grown into a multitude of work which represents a strong want to make very precise individual images.
Coyle is a multidisciplinary artist and has been based in London since 2006. Early in her career she solely worked on figurative painting. Influenced by first wave Pop Art but using themes which branched from 1920’s Japanese advertisements to American silver screen images as starting points. Her focus was to recreate images with a contemporary flare.
As Coyle worked throughout the past 14 years on making bold images, her work has curved towards using contemporary media images to give a modern relevance to the work. She mostly works in series of paintings ranging from three upwards to fifteen plus pieces. Coyle continually collects print media images each year and then after a few years, uses these images as a starting point for new paintings. She starts with drawing and minimises form, taking away backgrounds and each figure’s unwanted detail. Her figurative work also represents a dedication to colour and the process of mixing paint. Using the same mixing tubs for over ten years, they are never cleaned out and each mixed colour is used as a starting point to mix the next paintings colour pallet.
Last year Coyle’s ideas within her paintings branched out when she has started working on her Binary series. With an interest in astrophysics and binary stars she started with the idea to combine figures on the same canvas to create an unwritten narrative in each piece. Coyle has also started to use white in her current work. Never using paint from a tube, she is mixing whites for the first time. With each series finished her work grows in direction which she is sometimes unaware of.
Back in 2002 Coyle took photographs of plants which unknowingly at the time were to become the basis for her abstract work in painting and woodblock print. Starting with drawings of seven photographs she produced images of their own. What began in 2009 as abstract two-dimensional paintings grew into what are now room size three-dimensional installation paintings. The newly named ’50-year project’ in now in its 18th year. This year during lockdown saw its most dramatic piece completed within six months of work, titled Expansion. The installation Expansion and the entire project is an investigation into abstract painting. A want to question what direction abstraction painting is going and how far can an abstract painting be taken without being labelled as a sculpture.
Her current woodblock print work has its own individual take on how to produce abstract images. Her idea to use black ink on black paper to make art which is hard to photograph is continually evolving. Coyle wants viewers to still be driven to view art in person. What started as very minimal images in print has now become interesting collage pieces. Each piece consists of print on paper, acetate, and tracing paper. The layering of these individual prints makes the original abstract print more informal and has an unrelaxed look.
As a multidisciplinary artist Coyle also works within additional mediums and in 2018 Coyle was interested in producing new forms of abstract images. Trained in photography, but not a medium touched on for sixteen years, Coyle decided to return to the darkroom. She came across a 1930’s camera which has no flash or working view-finder and took to working outdoors. For the past few years photographing from May-September, she is using this ninety-year-old camera to take photographs in her garden. She insists the subject is irrelevant, it is just a starting point to make images which interest her. Coyle is using the camera in full sun to expose the negatives as much as possible and then in her darkroom exposes the now 51x61cm matt paper with a significant amount of light. The resulting images are very ambiguous and abstract, black negative space in contrast with white light. As this is a relatively new series of work, Coyle is excited about how far she can go with exposing the paper in future prints.
Throughout her career Coyle has become very conscience as not to produce work which is aesthetically pleasing. Whether painting over lines on her figurative work which may deform forms or being very crude when combing prints to form her collage work. She is very aware her Pop work will always be seen by most as commercial looking paintings, but she likes to play on the observers’ notions of what is ‘perfect’ in a human form.
Coyle’s work is currently represented in Miami by the Contemporary Art Modern Project and in London by Baker Howard Contemporary Art Gallery.