Emmesse

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Emmesse

He’s been around a few years, has Emmesse. He hails from Nottingham, is a 1976 vintage and at the age of three he upped sticks with his folks and moved to Manchester. Art is in his blood, you could say. With his dad and granddad both artists it was almost inevitable he too became involved, although it wasn’t until he studied landscaping that he found the calling. Dad and granddad were both sculptors and granddad was also a medical illustrator.

He says: “I began painting in the early nineties and I thought that in order to be rich and famous I needed a name with a bit more “Oomph” than plain old Mike Smith. Obviously now I see that was all a bit daft but I stuck with it and it’s good fun having an alter ego!”

Probably the best known works are his surreal Manchester cityscapes where strange additions to well-known and recognisable landmarks encourage one to think in a new way about the architecture of the city. It’s kookie, it’s fun and it usually takes a few seconds to find what’s odd about the piece.

Emmesse adds: “The first painting I sold was called An Ostrich in Albert Square and the theme seemed to grow its own legs and went on from there. I think it depends on what springs into my head and what I feel is right for the painting. If a blue dog wearing a trilby and smoking a pipe decides to make an entrance, then that’s where it will be. Honestly? I don’t feel it’s up to me, I only hold the brush!”

There’s a natural aversion to pigeonholing his work as merely being a cityscape painter. There’s much more to it and although there are a hundred capable artists out there who produce great cityscapes, Emmesse’s work stands out from the crowd. His work delivers a mix of reality with a surreal tinge, again, not always noticeable at first glance. His subject matter skits from one scene to another which is completely unrelated. You rarely get themes or a series of work as he paints what he wants when he wants and that’s possibly why his work not only stands out but is also widely appreciated – most pieces selling very quickly. There’s definitely a call for his eye and what he sees.

“Some people can get frustrated by things they can’t explain,” he adds. “I like things that can’t be explained or rationalised but somehow you can sort of understand it. I like the thought of creating a new language to interpret through my paintings. It’s explaining something that I can’t quite put into words and it makes more sense to express it as an image.”