A body of art

By / 11th of September, 2014
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The past year has been a whirlwind of solo exhibitions from New York to London for South Australian artist Emma Hack, and now she has her sights and her art set firmly on Asia.

EMMA Hack can magically turn the human form into an extraordinary camouflaged work of art. Her work is so unique that it’s instantly recognisable as being hers.

While she may be recognisable, her talent is perhaps only outstripped by her ambition.

“Imagine a mountain; I’m not even a third the way [up] there. I have huge goals,” says Emma.

One of those goals has been partially reached, the move into Asia, which has always heavily influenced her work.

“I have a massive fascination with Asia. Massive. My work has a lot of Oriental influences,” says Emma.

But it’s not just the attraction to Asia that draws her there.

Asia has the strongest art market in the world and Emma’s currently represented in the region by two galleries.

In Hong Kong she is found at The Cat Street Gallery, an illuminating gallery space for established and emerging contemporary artists. In Taiwan she represented by Bluerider Art, a new gallery quickly making a name for itself in the heart of Taipei. Both galleries took Emma’s work to Asia Hotel Art Fair Seoul 2014 in August.

Emma says finding the right gallery to represent her is not just about finding someone interested in her work but also someone she thinks she can work with.

“Finding the right gallery is like going into a relationship. It’s all encompassing,” she says.  “You invest a lot in the galleries and you need to trust that they know their audience and what they’ll like.”

She says she expects a lot from her galleries but gives a lot in return.

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The Taipei gallery relationship formed after Bluerider Art owner, Elsa Wang, bought numerous pieces at an art fair in Hong Kong. Emma’s art was then exhibited as one of the two solo exhibitions at the Bluerider Art gallery launch.   

For a new gallery, Emma will often undertake a live installation, which is, as she describes, “a wowish way” to be introduced. Her work takes on average between eight and 15 hours to paint, although intricate works can take more than 20 hours.

The iconic stop-motion animation, body-art video clip she did for Gotye for the world number one hit Somebody That I Used To Know took 23 hours.

The Gotye clip has been viewed more than 500 million times on YouTube, catapulting Emma into the mainstream after body painting for 25 years.

By the end of the year, Emma’s also aiming to be represented in Japan and Singapore. In October, she’ll also be at the Asia Contemporary Art Show in Hong Kong and at the Affordable Art Fair in Singapore in November.

Her new exhibition Eden is also influenced by Asia and opens in her hometown of Adelaide on 18 September. The exhibition, curated by Carollyn Kavanagh at the Adelaide Town Hall, mixes two types of art forms for those who love and appreciate both craft and handicraft.

“I love texture and mixed mediums and this covers both. Nudes photographed and printed on Belgian linen, then hand embroidered with the threads replicating my usual brushstrokes,” Emma says.  “It touches on sexuality more. It’s not sexy, but more sensual work. It’s different and real and it takes between 120 and 150 hours to complete.”

Reaching a ‘certain age’, Emma says she’s been exploring crafts of time past and is enjoying where it’s taking her. Like the evolving nature of her body art, she says this new direction feels like a transition, although to what or when she’s not entirely sure.

“My art is always evolving. I need to do what resonates with me.” 

For the time being though, it’s Asia’s turn to experience the joy and complexity of her art.  

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