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Emi Avora: Dancing with Colour

Updated: May 1

This week we are stepping into a world where color dances boldly, lines speak volumes, and Greek influences weave their magic. This week, we're thrilled to introduce you to the visionary artist, Emi Avora. Hailing from Greece, Emi honed her craft in London and now calls the vibrant city of Singapore her home. Her vibrant solo exhibitions have graced prestigious venues worldwide, from the National Theater of Greece in Athens to the Greenberg Van Doren Gallery in New York. She's also contributed to numerous group shows, including those at Studio Voltaire in London and The Whitechapel Gallery. Emi's work, known for its colorful, Grecian-inspired motifs, can be found in collections across Europe and the USA, including The Wonderful Fund collection.

Could you reflect on your artistic journey, starting from your time in your father’s

studio to your studies in the UK? What were the defining moments during these

formative years that led you to realize that art is your true calling?

I would say it was an organic long process rather than defining moments. I was always

meddling in my dad’s studio as a kid, loved the smell of art materials, and was curious to see art

books and exhibitions. However, when I decided to give this a proper go and prepare to apply

for art school I found I needed another art teacher other than my dad who was equally

important at that early stage. Younger and more aware of contemporary art he taught me a

huge amount during quite an intense period of preparation. I really loved those naive years of

making art and enjoying if just for the process without too many expectations.

How would you describe your artistic style and what are the main recurring themes in

your work? Where do you draw inspiration from?

When I first moved to Singapore I decided to treat my time as an art residency as I did not

know how long we would stay hardly knew any people. I drew a lot of inspiration from my

new surroundings, taking plenty of photographs from everyday life, but also focusing on

unfamiliar things that drew my attention. During the five years, my practice has moved more

toward weaving these elements from my surroundings in Southeast Asia with fictional

elements that relate to my own heritage and upbringing as well as mythology. One could

describe my work as a painting that sits between figuration and abstraction, using intense

colour and light to create fictional dream spaces.

With your Greek ancestry, experiences in the European art scene, and now residing in

Singapore, how have these diverse cultural influences shaped your artwork? What

challenges have you encountered during these relocations?

It has been very eye-opening moving to another continent and in a way seeing Europe and the

West from another geopolitical point of view. I left Greece at seventeen and lived in

London for many years before coming to Singapore. For some reason the move to Singapore

brought me closer to my ancestry- it might have been the climate or the interest in how

cultures weave together and interconnect, it might also have been because I grew up in Corfu

which was a British protectorate for a while - Singapore’s ambivalent relationship with the

colonial past is somehow familiar to me. The move also opened up my research into artists

from other parts of the world that I would not have encountered otherwise.

However, being a European artist working in Singapore is quite unusual and the main challenge

is to be taken seriously- as not someone who has a side hobby but someone who has a

continuous practice. Unlike cities like London or New York, an artist who is not Asian here is

very difficult to be considered a local. However, I have recently been able to work with local

galleries and I am very happy about that.

Have you observed any notable differences in the art scenes between Europe and Asia?

If we talk about the whole of Asia I would say there is a vibrant art scene that draws

inspiration from the histories and cultures of this area- As one would expect the focus

however is on the local talent and local artists, with the exceptions of large international art

fairs like Basel Hong Kong and the recent Art SG that strive to expose more international

galleries and expand the contemporary art landscape.

Could you share a significant highlight from your career as an artist?

I have been lucky to have shown my work in a few galleries and some museum spaces over the

years which I am always grateful for. However, I would say significant moments in life are

probably more important for the career as well. Moving from Greece to the UK, having

children, and moving from London to Singapore have been very important milestones that

determined the way I worked and ultimately my overall career.

What advice would you offer to emerging artists just beginning their journey or those

who have recently moved to a new continent?

It is a tricky question as my answer is often contradictory. Enjoy the process without caring

about what will come out of it but yet be ambitious as well and seek out opportunities….

I would say before promoting work on social media and other platforms, an artist needs to create

work that they feel that it is their own and they can stand by it, without forgetting to evolve and

develop it.

In terms of moving to another continent, I guess the best is to go with the flow, and observe without judging, have an open mind, and learn from new experiences.

What are your plans for the future in terms of your artistic endeavors?

I would like to be able to have connections with both Asia and Europe in the years to come as

this experience of being between continents has been very informative for my practice. Also, I

have a show titled ''Dreamscapes: Interwoven myths'' coming up at a Singaporean Gallery - Art Seasons Gallery - on 7th March in which apart from paintings I will also be showing some ceramic pieces. This is another angle of my practice that is quite new and I would love to see how it grows in the near future.

We would like to thank Emi for this amazing discussion and her presence at Insistrum this week! Don't forget to follow her for more incredible art.


Photographs copywrites belong to Emi Avora

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