The abstract reality that defines the artworks of the Swedish artist Emma Stüffe is her inspiration through emotions, music and everything that has to do with interior design.
“Every painting is a part of my life and when I look at it in retrospect I see clearly what I am painting and have gone through in that image”.
She paints from emotion, and the reflection of her personal life events and experiences. It is through this combination of soul searching, and the process of change and understanding, that she creates the most extraordinary pictures.
Her paintings are more than the emotional journey that help develop Emma Stüffe’s unique style, but also her obsession for beauty in the world in all its forms. Her passion for art, décor, sculpture and shapes have all influenced her work.
She is inspired by emotions, seasons, experiences and all the various stages of past and present life. Her impressions of aspects of everyday life such as city noise, the serenity of the sea, and forest walks, all play a part in her artistic evolution.
She derives energy and the desire to paint from people she views in everyday life and especially those closest to her.
Emma Stüffe declared, she must have deep feelings in order to produce a painting. When the intensity of her internal darkness is at its depths, she produces her best work. Her process of reflection and acceptance of life experiences is essential before, during, and after a work has been created. She finds beauty in the result both internally and on her painted canvases.
Emma, I know you have to have deep feelings to produce your paintings. Can you explain to us what deep feelings are and why?
That’s right. When I have valleys in life or everyday life, I paint art best. Often when a person has thoughts of anxiety or distress, in my opinion there is something inside that needs to come out. Either in the form of turning up the inner voice and listening to what you need to do, and in my case it’s about listening in and “painting” the feeling out of me. I need strong emotions for it to land well in a balance in painting and I welcome it.
It does not become so good art when life feels mediocre, I need strong feelings in the form of euphoria or darkness. It’s like the way I am as a person. All or nothing.
During the time I create, I get to sit there at the same time and feel the feeling, let it remain within me and welcome it in the form of a new work.
How do you analyze and project each work of art so that it is so strong and gives this effect?
I welcome the feeling, even the discomfort. Thinking it’s come to me to do something about it. I, the emotions and the painting live in symbiosis during each creative process which can sometimes be for several months.
Projecting an emotion is about the color choice, size and composition of each painting. I always want a lot of movement in my works, even if I work 2-dimensionally and not in 3D. My creation has never been about trying to create something beautiful but to awaken and draw attention to a feeling. I make almost exclusively large paintings, I have tried to make them smaller, but it does not appeal to me and I do not think it will be good. All or nothing as I said, a little like I am. I want to touch and inspire every viewer to dare to feel for. We can also enhance the impression in the form of different colors and I have reflected afterwards why I worked with just my 4 different color series and the meaning of the colors.
I would like to know more about your childhood and when did you start to feel like you wanted to be an artist?
I was very creative as a child, even musically and that’s how I remember growing up. I was a creative, writing, singing and thinking little girl. But the world felt big and scary, I remember. I have always been a searching soul and had a hard time fitting in. I had a restlessness inside me with difficulty putting my delusion into words. It was hard to find myself. When I was little, my dream was to become an artist or a singer, but since these professions went against the norm for what the outside world calls “normal work”, this was a dream I over the years worked away and “tuned down”. I was told that my dreams and goals were unrealistic, in every sense of the word and it is better to be safe and protect myself from being disappointed. I simply hid my big dream in a box with “Things that are too difficult to achieve”. I tried to find my place in society and just become one in the crowd, “become normal” and I felt terrible. The painting has always been by my side, even though I hid it. It was my way, just for myself to kind of paint for myself, as a kind of diary without this being judged by anyone. I buried the artist’s dream and started studying. The goal was to become an interior designer. Every now and then I had the privilege of getting to know a gallery owner who, after much persuasion, got to see my first painting and said that “these are good paintings Emma”. Then began my journey towards daring to listen to the voice I had as a little girl again, invest everything in it and surround myself with the right people who supported me, I have blossomed. I am so incredibly grateful that these people who have been around me have seen my potential, and encouraged me every time I wanted to quit because I was afraid.
How do you define your type of art?
There is a kind of movement in every work. Hard contrasts and raw transitions, for me this symbolizes life. The texture is usually rough in the form of lots of layers of paint.
It’s a big mess in some kind of balance. I started my journey in the abstract way of expression and people “thought then it was strange that I made large backgrounds without motives”. This was what I liked, much like a song without lyrics. It does not always need a text to touch. At least I was persuaded to start painting motifs and it resulted in smaller works with figures on. At that time I also had a studio where I received visits from both customers and other artists. I could not feel what I wanted myself. I found my way back to my more abstract art form and today I am glad that I have experimented. It has developed me. But again, I did not go by my own voice but the opinions of others.
Today I do not receive visits to the studio except for my agents, ACLDN. I am very strict with it to be sure that I create from within myself. Then it will be best.
One of the things that the majority of abstract artists have in common is the strong colors they use. I’ve seen the same thing in your artwork. What do you think about this?
I actually do not know what other abstract artists use for colors. I look at other people’s creations as little as possible, so I may focus only on my own creation.
But I guess that even abstract artists must find a kind of chorus in their “song”, i.e. the main part of the painting, just as the figurative artist finds his through an object or image. We do it through color choices and shapes instead. In my case also the texture, the bumpy imperfect that you can physically feel. I would probably more like to say that it is a question of expression. I have seen black and white abstract art that touches a lot, I’m not sure I share this view but I do not have a good idea of how others work as I said.
You seem to have different epochs or ways of doing blue, green … Are these colors part of your deep thoughts?
Yes absolutely. My blue series – Big Blue Ocean, is about the emotional self. The heart in me, or in all of us. To dare to open up and also feel what it is like under the surface. It is difficult to dare to be one’s true self and I also experience that. We struggle to maintain a perfect surface rather than show off our truly vulnerable strong selves. But want to inspire to dare to listen to the inner self and allow yourself to be there, even if it storms. The blue series are gaseous dramatic paintings in colors that have a calming effect on one. My green series that I call “For Rest” is a rather stylish journey of discovery within myself and about ourselves. The forest “I”. Reflections on acceptance, who we really are and “finding home”. A kind of soul searching in the form of green colors that are said to have a calming effect like blue, but also make us focused and said to have a healing effect. My “Sand and Stone” series is about being present. “The mountain stands still even if the sand flows between the fingers”. Earthy and warm colors also give us a relaxed feeling and are said to give us a welcoming feeling. The feeling of being at home. Embracing. Then I also have “Seven Sins” which is the red series. It’s about my old self and red colors stand for fire, passion, sex and the forbidden. But the color red can also make people both alert, happy and in some people cause stress. It depends on how the viewer interprets the painting and I think a lot is about what you have in your luggage. So, much to the point that I was drawn to these colors but also how I learned how these affect one.
I guess you’ve had a development in your art. How do you see the next few years in this development?
I studied at the famous Swedish Art School HDK, attended Art College, where I studied color and form within interior design, as well as Garden design and Ceramics. Art is pouring out of me in many different practices. I definitely have that, I want to continue to develop and this is just the beginning of something big and fantastic. I have finally dared to get out of my shell and all the pieces are starting to fall into place. It is both frightening and fascinating how we sometimes fight against our destinies instead of leaving the fears and just following along. We (me and ACLDN) will take a big step internationally. I will continue with my series and deepen these further. Then I have several projects underway.
Each country has its own idiosyncrasy. You’re born in Sweden. How has your country and its people influenced your art?
I’m a bit split actually. To grow up and then become a mother in a country that secures Sweden, I am incredibly grateful for. We do not have to worry here about things like healthcare, childcare or schooling. I grew up on the west coast with proximity to the sea and water that has always inspired me. I can sit for hours and just look at the roads or the horizon. It can be blue, green, black, calm, stormy. At the same time, I can question the Swedish mentality many times. It is difficult to be different and gain space and understanding in general. I can feel resistance in general when you choose to go outside the norm. If the level of ambition is above the so-called Jante Act. I am fortunate that my innermost circle of people are people who have dared to defy Jante and encouraged me to do the same.