Emi Brener – Under the Skin

Oil Paintings

28.03.2020 2pm

Under the banner Under the Skin, SomoS premieres multidisciplinary artist Emi Brener’s new work: mixed media oil paintings conceived and made in Berlin early 2020 during Emi’s artist residency, along with an interview that offers deeper insight into the unique creative world of this engaging young Uruguayan artist.

Working primarily in mixed media works that poetically merge the mediums of oil painting and embroidery, Emi Brener aims to convey moments of human intimacy, nuance and experience.

Brener’s work may be located in a painting tradition that combines raw depictions of the body with deep interior mental exploration; a tradition that ranges from expressionists such as Egon Schiele, to modern day painters such as Lucian Freud and Jenny Saville. As a young artist, Brener enriches this tradition with a subtle queer sensibility.

One can clearly see in Brener’s work how the female gaze on the female body is connected to empathy instead of objectification, allowing a whole new way to look and experience to emerge.

Inspired by thoughts and emotions borrowed from “found” texts, Brener looks to expose the vulnerability of the human experience through the meshing of written language and painting, while also highlighting the way we use our bodies to interact with one another. The results are paintings that often depict fragments of the human figure, never showing the entire body and some even applying a distorted close-up viewpoint, further deepening the work’s sense of intimacy.

Her latest work is a project about human intimacy, presented through a combination of embroidery and oil paint, based on deeply emotional pieces of writing, including love letters, confessions, journals, private diaries, and suicide notes, in order to capture many aspects of human emotion, from the romantic to the dark, all of which show vulnerability, and embroidering them onto the canvas. The text is then painted over, visualizing the notion of one’s thoughts being just under the skin. The procedure of painting over embroidery creates a sense of subtlety, encouraging the viewer to take a closer look and make their own personal connections to the works. If the painting’s wooden stretcher represents the skeleton, and the painted canvas stands for the skin, Brener’s inventive technique has visualized a new dimension of this classic analogy of “the painting as human body”: that of the psyche and its scars.

Under the Skin presents us with an intimate portrait of human vulnerability, and encourages us to closely observe the work both aesthetically as well as emotionally.

About Emi Brener

Currently working towards a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Instituto Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes, and a Communications BFA at Facultad de Información y Comunicación, both at Universidad de la República, Montevideo, Uruguay, the artist has also completed a summer undergraduate residency program at the New York Academy of Art. While studying, Brener has participated in a number of group shows and had a painting admitted to the Festival Internacional de Colonia in Uruguay.
View Emi Brener’s full artist bio ->


Read the transcript of Emi Brener’s interview.


This online presentation replaces the planned public solo exhibition, that due to the current international health concern surrounding COVID-19, was cancelled, to help prevent spreading the virus. We hope it is an interesting alternative way to engage with the artist’s work and ideas.