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Paintings of Women Submerged in Water

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Isabel Emrich is a painter who has been working and studying in California. With a number of high-profile exhibitions and print features, she has shown herself as an artist to look out for. Nothing made this more apparent than her “Refracting Beauty,” show at Skidmore Contemporary Art. The series, “Refracting Beauty,” showcased a large volume of works Emrich had done of woman submerged in water. Throughout the series the viewer is given a strong impression of the interaction between water, light and motion. This relationship manifests in a number of ways. In the piece, My Future Confidence, we get a sense of the beauty of the water. Emrich uses bold brush strokes, mingling yellows, oranges, greens and purples to create a surreal rainbow effect in front of a woman whose body is submerged beneath the colors. The viewer sees only the subjects head, up to her eyes, practically removing her from the chaotically beautiful swirl as she looks off the side, out of frame. In another piece, Learning from the Past, we see this from the other side. A woman is submerged just below the surface of the water wearing a crown of flowers. The colors once again swirl in the surface of the water, now above the subject. Meanwhile the contemplative woman we face, eyes closed, has a similar effect occurring across her face. Varying shades of blue and pink crisscross over her cheeks, lending her somber, ethereal beauty. This is the aesthetic that I find most moving in Emrich’s work. While some of her pieces are more straightforward, women trailing bubbles while they swim through rich, blue-green waters, I keep coming back to her for the bold colors, the impressionistic swirls and the perspective. Here’s hoping that her Future Confidence becomes her present confidence because she’s got the goods.


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