Featured Artist | Emile Shamie

Emile Shamie finds himself through the process of art.

It’s all intuitive with no advance planning, or expectation of what element the results will reveal. And so there is that element of surprise to it all. It’s a liberating and gestural way of capturing something elemental. As drawings, the best of them, are configurations of the model in a moment in time, and an embodiment of life’s energy. Whether fleeting or more solid, each Shamie study speaks of how the artist feels at that creative moment in time. Through a process of trial and error, he captures his models, and with his best works there is almost a character of projection. Some of his drawings are almost right; still others are hit and miss. Out of an ongoing process akin to live action painting, the most successful ones capture the movements of arms, legs, and overall stance and bodily gestures. These women are definitely there in all their moods, states of being. Each one is different. The nuances might suggest a voluptuous, a reposeful, a reflective or an energized state.

 

As works of art on paper Emile Shamie’s are passionate expressions of a full range of human emotions from reflection to confidence, to passion, to tranquility. It is as if the artist were examining, studying and embracing everything he sees from a distance, the distance being the psyche’s dance with love. The body is in a landscape, and the landscape is in the body. Art becomes a potential embodiment of that universe where amor and psyche are in harmony.

 

Shamie’s open dialogue is with the model. The interchange is captured in dense, or fleeting imagery. Always the space becomes part of the definition of the overall work. Beauty captured in this way is more than just an embodiment of calm, of voluptuous or exotic celebration of the body. It is also about the fleeting nature of the human presence, for these works do not seek to document, or describe. We can feel how the spirit and psyche of each woman in the gestural freeform style. It’s caught in a moment in time and communicates emotion as of the artist’s hand and the lines it draws were a conduit to the face, to the body’s presence.

Some of these women are presented in an open, suggestive and ultimately simple way that recalls Matisse’s orientalist nudes from his Nice period. Still other drawings like Two in One, One in Two are like sublime tributes to a healthy relationship between men and women. That unity is captured through a simple flow of two bodily silhouettes that complement one another in mirror-like images, meeting above in a celebratory way. There is a flow of line in the drawings as if the artist were deciding each step of the way how the body will fit into space on paper. Drawing becomes a manifestation of some psychic flow between artist and model, or artist and subject, if it becomes landscapes, or floral study. This entire embodiment through ink, watercolor, pencil or charcoal is less about the spectacle of being, than an unpredictable celebration of the joy of life.

Whether sketches or line drawings or multi-media works on paper, Shamie’s drawings are eloquent experiments that communicate a certain wisdom through the simple naiveté of their conception. Emile Shamie never arrives at a conclusion, nor does he decide what his subject model actually is or could be. It’s all about the visual journey he is embarked on and for which his drawings bear witness to. Sometimes the sketches are not successful, and other times they sketch their way into truth. The visual journey is one that never ends, that is continuous.

The playful character of Shamie’s most freeform nudes reveals the way the artist thinks through the action of drawing. The spontaneity and intuitive character of these works, imbues them with an aura of love.

For their personification of the body, for the female gaze, the gesture, and vital ethereal and elemental presence Shamie’s ink wash, pencil or charcoal sketches becomes allegories for the most human aspect of each and every one of us. Often the sketches inspire large-scale paintings, and become a point of departure for the more in depth investigation of the human form in space. Sometimes the body itself becomes the landscape. Is the allegory to the physicality of all tactilility? Or is Shamie just revealing the nature of human form in its disguise as a landscape? One such work captures a woman with her arms raised, her breasts standing firm and her eyes looking outwards. Black ink brush strokes animate the surrounding space immediately behind her, in a calligraphic way giving a sense of the moment.

– John K. Grande