“For these are not paintings that simply fix what is seen, and neither do they exchange the seen, the visible, for the invisible. Rather, I think that in these paintings Emsley has revealed our connections to the things – the structures, colours, forms – in and through which we rediscover our conjoined existences, our oneness.”

– Ashraf Jamal

About

I have found a home within the genre of still life, and above all else I prefer to paint flowers. My petalled subjects are not the flawless shopping-mall variety. Instead I seek out gnarled and blemished specimens — flowers that bare scars. My paintings are depictions of the broken, the damaged, and the imperfect.

I am fascinated by the technical aspects of painting. I immerse myself in the obscure techniques that painters have used for centuries to create convincing illusions in paint. Because of my fixation on the technical aspects of painting, I have been told that I am more of a craftsman than an artist. I accept this label without objection, if anything, I regard it as a badge of honour. I admit to being smitten with the craft-like aspects of naturalistic painting: the ancient methods that can give holographic qualities to a series of brushstrokes on a two-dimensional surface. While my compositions consist of simple austere arrangements, the technique that I use is so slow that it takes many months to complete a painting. As my preferred subjects are fragile ephemeral flora, painting from life is not an option. Each of my paintings is based on approximately one hundred photographs of a composition that existed for a fleeting moment. My output is limited to a few paintings per year.

I work directly with a growing list of clients, and my paintings form part of numerous private collections throughout Africa, Europe and the U.S.

Latest work

Roses & Pomegranates

Oil on Panel | 35 x 25 cm | 2022 | Photographed by Mike Hall

Rose & Delphiniums

Oil on Panel | 35 x 27.2 cm | 2022 | Photographed by Mike Hall

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