In the Studio: Mario Emes

Untitled #5111
Oil and acrylic on canvas
60″ x 48″ x 2″

Mario Emes sits down with Erik Sommer to talk about working 26 hour days, doing Chess, moving to New York City in 1980, and how living in the Hudson River Valley has not influenced his work.

I get up, I lay down and then I get up again…

Untitled #5675 (Collaboration with Fontana and Withgenstein)
Refrigerator shelf, silicone ice trays, faux grass, plastic, cardboard, ink, oil, acrylic

(ES) Describe your work for us.
(ME) Painting, objects, installations.

Tell us a bit about your background. Where did you grow up?
Born in Austria; grew up in my studio in the South Bronx (149 St. & 3rd Ave) NYC (Ft. Apache).

You moved to New York City in 1980. What do you remember about that time? Any stories you can share?
Arrived at JFK in black out, stayed for a while in the Port Authority while it was under construction, then I stayed with a Jamaican family in Brooklyn (Flatbush Ave & Church Ave).  Next was South Bronx across from Fashion Moda Museum and then the Lower East Side (Tompkins Square).

Where do you live and work now?
Hudson River Valley, New York.

How do you think this has influenced your work?
It has not.

Do you remember any artists as a child that captured your attention?
No (Topor).

Any artists today you are looking at?
I study all artists and work hard on avoiding “wannabes”.

You studied or have degrees in biochemistry, philosophy, anthropology and psychology. How do you think these experiences have affected your work?
Very much!  Better judgment about what is relevant, what is not.

Untitled #8124 (Motherwell and m.e.)
Wood, glass, copper flower pot with ceramic cup handle, paint can, photograph, calculator paper rolls, USPS tape, glue, paper, foam, paint, cat hair, human hair (facial, pubic and head). 
Size Variable

In 1991 you collaborated on two plays staged for the New York Shakespeare Festival. Is theater a world you would like to become involved with again? 
I am involved with theater on a daily basis – “life is theater, theater is life”.

Rumor has it you are a very accomplished Chess player. When did you start playing and what keeps you going?
I started playing chess at the age of five.  For 30-40 years I do chess.  Chess is not a game for me.  It is a mirror to life.

You are very prolific with an impressive output of paintings, sculptures, objects and works on paper. Is there a medium you prefer?

Are you more concerned with the process or the end result?

What is your normal studio practice like? Any routines or superstitions?
24 hours/day in and out of studio plus 1-2 hours of anxiety which results into ~ 26 hour days, 365+ days per year.

What about your working technique? Walk us through how you start and then develop a piece.
I get up, I lay down and then I get up again……

 Untitled #5107
Oil and acrylic on canvas
60″ x 48″ x 2″
Untitled #5671
Oil, acrylic and glue on board, glass, wool, drinking straws, aluminum plate, wire, tape, frames.
Size Variable

What excites you the most about the current art world?
Nothing.  Young, undeveloped minds getting attention too early with a goal to make a quick buck resulting in uninteresting work and boring, childish personalities. 

Any recent or upcoming projects?
Recent exhibition with Swivel Gallery (Saugerties) In the Bleak Midwinter group exhibition that ends February 7, 2023. I continue showing my work (output) to Melanie and myself on a daily basis like I did for the last 30+ years.

How do you spend your time outside of the studio?

Finally​,​ what is your favorite color?
Does a color have a favorite painter?

To see more of Mario Emes’ work visit his website and Instagram page.