British painter Emilia Momen, born in 2001, has a background in both fashion and fine art. Having studied both Life Drawing and Fashion Styling in Florence, she now combines those talents to depict how people express themselves through the clothes they wear in the form of large oil paintings.
Contemporary Portraits in Oils by Emilia Momen
Now working and living in London, her solo exhibition, Men About Town, at Ronchini Gallery earlier this year introduced me to her full size portraits of strangers, friends, family members and herself.
I was particularly struck by the figures isolated on white. Painted in a classical style, using oils on canvas, they capture a certain solitude in both the literal depiction as well as the imbued narrative.
Her subjects, who hail from England and Italy, are clad in apparel that serves as an insight to their different occupations and socio-economic backgrounds.
Despite the exhibition’s title, Men About Town, her female subjects are anything but objectified. They appear strong and powerful, and not subject to the male gaze, but the gaze of the female artist herself.
The artist says that it’s through the process of rendering her subjects that she actually gets to know them. An intimate experience that yields a romanticized version of people on the precipice of the unknown.
Her original paintings sell quickly, but the artist often offers them as prints or giclées once the original is no longer available.
“I grew up in London around painters which first developed my understanding of light and colour and I started drawing from a very early age. The more I painted, the more I loved it. Whilst I have experimented with various mediums over the years such as drawing, to photography, to fashion, oil painting is currently my favourite medium.
I capture certain people that I want to be surrounded by in my life, they can be people I have come across on the street, friends, lovers or family. I am fascinated by their particular sense of style, if I feel it accurately expresses them as a person. My way of getting to know them is through studying them during the painting process. My work is a documentation of experiences I have had in my daily life in this world. The women who wear suits in my paintings look strong and powerful, perhaps I am portraying them as less vulnerable to men, less objectified, more as equals.
After studying both art and fashion in Florence, at Charles Cecil & Polimoda, I now paint large full scale portraits from my studio in London and I occasionally agree to commissions.”- Emilia Momen
Follow the artist on Instagram @emiliamomen