Emmy Harnes

visual artist,  Norway   

Artist statement:

It has long been a tradition in visual arts, fairy tales and legends to use animals as an artistic device, as I do in my paintings. John Berger states in his essay Why Look at Animals (1977) that the animal was the first metaphor of man and that man becomes aware of himself returning the look of an animal.

In my work I bring animals into the human world – in interiors, in everyday situations or fully clothed.
I seek to lay bare emotions such as strength, vulnerability and tenderness in their expressions, and thereby convey something fundamental about what it is to be human.

My paintings can be seen as fairy tale images, or fables, and whilst my main concern is to capture human emotions, I also want to give prominence to the animals themselves and say something about their intrinsic value.

The animals often meet the viewer’s gaze directly – as if nature itself is trying to pass on an essential message. Thus, the paintings also seek to provide a commentary on a reality, a world, and a nature that is perceived as increasingly unpredictable.

Just ask the animals, and they will teach you. Ask the birds of the sky, and they will tell you. Speak to the earth, and it will instruct you. Let the fish in the sea speak to you.”

Book of Job