Born in Athens and currently based in Singapore, Emi Avora is drawing subject matter from her every day, her sketches and images of public and personal spaces with a focus on the interior and still life. Her works are entering a dialogue with painting’s modernist historical canons as well as ponder on our ambiguous relationship to colonial narratives, exoticism and taste.
Humour, curiosity and anxiety are elements that occupy her compositions. Sometimes dreamy, sometimes intense and with the use of light on the driving seat, her work allows space for invention, creating a gap between looking and making, between the real and the imaginary. Everyday observations become exaggerated through the use of colour and change of scale, focusing on what surprises her or grasps her attention. Stemming from reality, observed situations are weaved into fictional compositions that allow a multitude of readings. Equally, the very process of mark-making opens up a platform to investigate painting’s power to transcend imagery by breaking it down to the basics of colour, shape, pattern and composition.
Emi Avora (1979) is a Greek-born, UK-trained (Oxford University and Royal Academy Schools) and Singapore based artist. She has exhibited widely in the UK and abroad. Solo projects include the National Theatre of Greece Athens, South Square Arts Centre, The Apartment Gallery, Athens, Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, New York and Gallery Truebenbach, Cologne.
She has participated in a number of group shows including Studio Voltaire, London, The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, The Whitechapel Gallery, London and the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki. Her work can be found in private as well as public collections in Europe and the USA, including The Wonderful Fund collection and March collection. She has also been an Elizabeth Greenshields recipient and her work has been in various publications including ArtMaze Magazine, the New York Times, Future Now, Aesthetica Magazine and Defining the Con-temporary, The Whitechapel in Association with Sotheby’s.
Her work was recently included in Be.Long.Ing, an online exhibition, organised by ilikeyourworkpodcast.com, as well as featured on online platforms http://yngspc.com and @greekfoundation. She recently had an online exhibition at www.sidexsidecontemporary.com.
"Just before and while I was pregnant with my first, my artist support system started to crumble. A couple of galleries I was working with folded and there seemed to be much fewer opportunities for me. I really wanted to start a family so these difficulties did not deter me but I did feel upset as the timing was not great. Having a baby makes it much more difficult not only to make new work but also to go out and find new opportunities, meet new people, go to private views etc.
I did participate in some shows when I had my first baby and moved my studio to the back of my garden which was the only way to keep going. This imposed slowness was a blessing in disguise I guess. It made me rethink my practice and in a way, having nothing to lose, made me enjoy the making more and started having fun in the studio again.
As soon as my first child turned one and as soon as I had gotten some child care to give me a bit more time, I fell pregnant again; I was pretty sick throughout the first five months of that pregnancy and I had to have another break from the studio. I never stopped drawing but I could not be consistent. It was only when my second child turned four/five months old that something felt much more alive again and I started experimenting with colour.
I felt like I was making something that had potential. That flow got interrupted yet again as we got the opportunity and decided to relocate from London to Singapore. It was quite a drastic thing to do but despite missing London a lot and also taking another few months off in order to relocate with two young children, it was the right thing for me and my practice.
I managed to find a studio quickly and I decided not to bring any older work to Singapore. I felt I could do with a clean start without looking back. As soon as I found a nursery for the little ones, I started working with new enthusiasm.
The work looked different, I was more inspired by the new things I was encountering and I feel my painting blossomed as the exotic plants I am surrounded by in this tropical climate.
More things started happening as well, by applying for new opportunities the work started getting new momentum, was featured in a few publication and magazines and people started approaching me with new ideas which feels great.
Obviously, Covid-19 threw another spanner in the works but I have realised this is what happens in life; things change unexpectedly and we always have to remain positive to ride the waves. The transition into motherhood was also a transition into a new period of my practice and I am very thankful for that."