Emma Cousin


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Year 2020
Medium Ink and pencil on paper
Dimensions 29.8 x 21.1 cm

About the work

Shakuhachi is an instrument made of bamboo. I was thinking about this hollowed out bamboo and reading about Jung’s ideas of dreams being like a bird – alluding to wanting to escape life. These images and ideas, of the wind moving through a shape to make a sound and a structure that is like hollow bird bones were the beginnings of this drawing. This evolved and ended in thinking about how snakes ‘walk’, perhaps by using their ribs to move along.  

About the artist:

Born 1986 Yorkshire, Emma Cousin lives and works in London. Graduated from BA Fine Art at The Ruskin School of Fine Art, Oxford (2007).

Cousin's figurative work features dynamic, carnivalesque scenarios that explore the space between realism and fantasy, felt experience and communication. Narratives are ambiguous, often double-edged, suggesting multiple potential interpretations of their mises-en-scène. Fluid and entropic, the human forms appear both erotic and sinister, merging and mutating in a sequence of primal interactions. Vividly coloured limbs stretch, contort and conjoin in endless permutations and the body, automaton-like, is transfigured into an assemblage of fleshy tools. Cousin's drawings are often titled with antiquated phrases or her own word plays, quirks of language that offer an off-kilter framework for their layered compositions that evolve through an urgent experimental process, often involving oscillation and tessellation of the figures to find infinite combinations of form, meaning and content. Tension is built by what Cousin has termed the “proximity to obscenity”, through figures that are at once cartoonish and menacing.

Selected exhibitions include Introductions, White Cube, London (2021); New Dirt, Goldsmiths CCA, London (2020); Ridiculous, Elephant West, London (2020); Outlines, Austin Desmond, London (2020); Soft Bodies, Castlefield Gallery, Manchester (2020); Survey, Jerwood Visual Arts, London and touring (2019); Ultra, Justin Hammond Projects, London (2019); Mardy, Edel Assanti, London (2018); Between Bodies, Assembly House, Leeds (2018); Leg Up, Lewisham Art House, London (2018); Wasp, Hannah Barry Gallery, London (2018); Painting Vol 1., CGK Gallery, Copenhagen (2017); Aids to Living, Dolph Projects, London (2017); Mudhook, Tintype Gallery, London (2017); Strangelands, Collyer Bristow Gallery, London (2017); and Missing You Already, White Conduit Projects, London (2017).

← Rhys Coren

Fourty-five Played at Thirty-three

Michael Craig-Martin →


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