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ArtULTRA Residency at The Hari: Meet Emmanuel Unaji

ArtULTRA Residency at The Hari: Meet Emmanuel Unaji

ArtULTRA Residency at The Hari: Meet Emmanuel Unaji

The Hari (voted No.1 hotel in the UK), is delighted to announce Emmanuel Unaji has been selected for the hotel’s one-month residency. In collaboration with ArtULTRA, a platform dedicated to supporting early career artists, the hotel residency offers the opportunity for early career artists a space to create their work, followed by an exhibition of their pieces in The Hari’s public areas until November 2021.

A voyage into Emmanuel Unaji’s Multiverse

Emmanuel is a polymath. With a background in modelling, a fashion line and an art degree under his belt, he is not afraid to try new ideas and break new ground. Emmanuel makes artworks as pieces in their own right, but they also embellish his garments’ sleeves, backs and pockets. It’s exciting to witness an artist emerging on the scene who is unconstrained by the usual categorisations between ‘fine’ art and ‘fashion’. Instead, Emmanuel sees his career as a wide spectrum, spanning both fine and commercial artforms. Andy Warhol, an artist who inspires and intrigues Emmanuel, famously quipped that “good business is the best art.” For Emmanuel personally, “there is no dividing line,” he explains, “there is your identity, your mission, vision and values, as an artist and equally as a brand.”

As a 10-year-old visiting the Sistine Chapel, all the way through to studying at art school, Emmanuel has contemplated the Western canon and questioned his place within it. Today, he thinks of his visits to museums and exhibitions as encounters, in which he enjoys the exchange of ideas, knowing where he comes from and observing how he fits in.

Emmanuel has carved out his own space straddling fashion, luxury, street and fine art, where he enjoys deconstructing the images and identities that the media offer up to us. Taking as his subjects fashion models, cultural or political icons, Emmanuel explores the distance between perception and reality. His collages remind us both of Instagram selfies and fine-art portraits at the same time, making us question our own modes of image consumption. What is the subject’s truth? How do we relate to them? Emmanuel is interested in engaging the viewer in a conversation, and in exploring what lies beneath the images that we consume.

During the residency, Emmanuel studied the contradictory essence of images and reality; asking: Is what we see a reflection of what the subject experiences? By combining illustration, drawing and painting, the series mechanically deconstructs selected images to illustratively reverse engineer the unconscious bias applied to protagonists within painting and photography.

Emmanuel describes the residency as having been a great opportunity to dedicate more time to his artistic practice. “It’s like being in your own Wonderland, projected into your own world of creativity and given time to explore new ideas,” he explains. Emmanuel hopes to use the residency to make a shift in his career.

Read more here

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