This week Unit London is thrilled to open two debut solo exhibitions by two coveted American painters; Mauro Martinez and Emily Marie Miller are amongst the youngest and most sought after artists on the gallery roster and we are excited to bring their work to the attention of UK audiences for the very first time.
Big Mood centres around the phenomenon of ‘cursed imagery’: a concept born on Tumblr in 2016 where ostensibly mundane images are lent significance by unnerving content and/or poor picture quality. Martinez’s interest in the contemporary relationship between image and viewer has led him to explore the juxtaposition between vastly disparate historical styles: for example, how does mainstream digital imagery respond to art historical oil painting? Where do the two divide, and where do they coalesce?
Due to their inherently repeatable nature, cursed images are often far removed from their creator, they multiply and spread (essentially author-less) throughout the internet. An oil painting, on the other hand, is a tangible piece, inherently singular; unlike the cursed image it is expensive and time consuming to produce. Where cursed images pop up on the peripheries of our attention, flashed on a social media feed or glimpsed on a website, paintings are less ephemeral, they seek longevity, they aim to stay with us, connect with us.
Emily Marie Miller
Miller views the mirror as a symbol for increased societal anxiety and uniformity around notions of image. She’s interested in the fact that, as people converse, they tend to mirror each other’s movements and expressions, obeying subconscious rhythms that endear one to the other. In other words: we like to be alike, as it is a feeling akin to acceptance. This is something that is reflected on social media networks: instagram influencers follow a formula, mimicking each other’s poses and facial expressions, while a platform such as TikTok relies heavily on behavioural and musical trends that are then reproduced ad infinitum. Miller’s practice begins with photography, which in itself is a series of reflections and refractions of light to create an image; then that image is reproduced on canvas where it will be photographed and then multiply again.
The process of creating art through photography, much like the process of creating art more generally, is one concerned with reflection. Miller’s work in Mirror Mirror is addressing the issue of personal identity in a society plagued with vanity, it delves deeper into the reflective mechanics behind the relationships we hold with ourselves and with each other.