Emily Wolfe

Emily Wolfe

Emily Wolfe was born and raised in New Zealand and is the only child of art writer, Richard Wolfe, and distinguished artist, Pamela Wolfe. Since 1998, Wolfe has lived and worked in London – a place that due to its size, climate, and geography, dictates that the population spend its days in high-density living and built spaces are the constant backdrop to life. “I like being indoors, and the climate here is conducive to it. I loved [London] from the moment I got here, and I think it’s a magnificent city.” (Emily Wolfe, quoted in Sam Eichblatt, “Strange Wilderness,” Home New Zealand, 2013).

Emily is a graduate of Elam School of Fine Arts, the University of Auckland, and in 1998 she received the Ryoichi Sasakawa Scholarship to study for a Masters in Fine Arts at the prestigious Slade School of Fine Arts at University College London. Following the completion of her formal education in 2000, Wolfe has regularly exhibited in both hemispheres, travelling between the United Kingdom and New Zealand and thus alternating between these two ways of life – one inherently familiar; the other adopted and now equally habitual. “Yes, I miss New Zealand. I ache for the smell of living things, the open vistas, my parents’ backyard in Freeman’s Bay. I think that’s why I’ve taken to painting on such large canvases – it’s the only time I get to stretch out my arms in a wide space. On the flip side, I’ve fallen in love with the chaos of city life, its monochrome greyness, the gritty air and the way it makes life, and my painting, so much more intense.” (Emily Wolfe, quoted in “Cry Wolfe,” Next, May 2000)

An earlier series of paintings by Wolfe depicted delicate and intricate remnants of lace, the essence of which are similar to the gossamer curtains that feature in much of Wolfe’s later body of work. In these images the viewer peers out of windows obscured by a thin veil of lace curtain that obscures the vista, acting as an intermediary between the internal and external environments. Murky glimpses of the outside world make it difficult for the viewer not to wonder what lies beyond.

These delicately veiled windows are often situated in rooms decorated with tatty and peeling wallpaper embossed with faint images of flowers and leaves. Art writer, Malcolm Burgess, described these rooms as being “steeped in a wistful air of the kind that lingers after a wake in the house of the recently departed.” (Malcolm Burgess, “Where the Wild Things Aren’t: The Interior World of Emily Wolfe,” Art New Zealand, no. 129 (Summer, 2008/09)) Emily explains that she has “always been interested in painting things that are somehow worn, decayed, redundant, or just things that are overlooked and seem to have a potential for subject. They’re scenes of something that’s about to happen, or has happened, but they’re not part of the narrative.” (Emily Wolfe, quoted in Sam Eichblatt, “Strange Wilderness,” Home New Zealand, 2013)

There is a disconcerting quietness to Wolfe’s works – an uncertainty and mystery that implies there is more to them than meets the eye. Through painting such beautiful, yet innately unsettling works, Wolfe addresses the “subtle interplay between privacy and exhibitionism as well as realism and the fantastic.” (Onetwenty Gallery, Emily Wolfe: Through a Glass Darkly, exhibition catalogue (Ghent: Onetwenty Gallery)

Education

1998 – 2000
Masters of Fine Arts, Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, London, United Kingdom

1993 – 1996
Bachelor of Fine Arts, Elam School of Fine Arts, the University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Selected Solo & Group Exhibitions

2015
Lost Property, Page Blackie Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand

2014
Slant of Light, Melanie Roger Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

2013
Emily Wolfe, Page Blackie Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand
Recent Painting, Melanie Roger Gallery, Auckland New Zealand

2012
Emily Wolfe, Page Blackie Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand
Gavin Hurley, Peter Peryer & Emily Wolfe, Melanie Roger Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand (group)

2011
Sleight of Hand, Sarjeant Gallery, Whanganui, New Zealand (group)

2010
Emily Wolfe, Page Blackie Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand
Sleight of Hand: The Port Nelson Suter Biennale, The Suter Art Gallery, Nelson, New Zealand (group)
Emily Wolfe, Anna Bibby Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand
Family Viewing, Trajector Artfair, Hotel Bloom, Brussels (group)

2009
Emily Wolfe, Page Blackie Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand
East End Academy: The Painting Edition, Whitechapel Gallery, London, United Kingdom (group)
Emily Wolfe, Anna Bibby Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

2008
Amazing Lace, Pataka Museum of Arts and Culture, Porirua, New Zealand (group)
Emily Wolfe, Anna Bibby Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

2007
Emily Wolfe, Anna Bibby Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand
Cocheme Fellowship Exhibition, Byam Shaw, London, United Kingdom (group)
Emily Wolfe, Onetwenty Gallery, Ghent, Belgium
Jerwood Contemporary Painters, Jerwood Space, London, United Kingdom (group)
Winter Exhibition, Contemporary Art Projects, London, United Kingdom (group)

2006
Emily Wolfe, Page Blackie Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand
John Moores 24, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, United Kingdom (group)
Emily Wolfe, Anna Bibby Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

2005
Group Show, Page Blackie Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand (group)
Emily Wolfe, Anna Bibby Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand
Commodity and Delight: Views of Home, Sarjeant Gallery, Whanganui, New Zealand (group)
Emily Wolfe – Through a Glass Darkly, Onetwenty Gallery, Ghent, Belgium
Beyond the Black Sun, The Agency, London, United Kingdom (group)

2004
Emily Wolfe, Anna Bibby Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand
The Solar Anus, Henry Peacock Gallery, London, United Kingdom (group)

2003
Chockerfuckingblocked, Jeffrey Charles, London, United Kingdom (group)

2002
Emily Wolfe, Anna Bibby Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

2001
Freebase, ACAVA, London, United Kingdom (group)
Diversions: Recent Acquisitions from the University Collection, the University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand (group)
Alive! Still Life into the Twenty-First Century, Adam Art Gallery, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand (group)

2000
Emily Wolfe, Anna Bibby Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand
Art Futures, Contemporary Art Society, Barbican Centre, London, United Kingdom (group)
DLA Award, Sarah Myerscough Fine Art, London, United Kingdom (group)
Bilis 2000, ‘Front’, London, United Kingdom (group)
Slade Postgraduate Degree Show, London, United Kingdom (group)

1999
GRRR, Slade Postgraduate Painters’ Initiative, Paper Bag Factory, London, United Kingdom (group)

1998
Emily Wolfe, Vavasour Godkin Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

1996
M. & C. Saatchi Award Finalists, Auckland, New Zealand (group)

Selected Awards, Scholarships & Fellowships

2014
Shortlisted for East London Painting Prize 2014, London, United Kingdom

2006
Cochme Fellowship Residency, Byam Shaw, Central Saint Martins, London, United Kingdom
Finalist, John Moores 24, Liverpool, United Kingdom

2000
Cyril Sweet Award, Worshipful Company of Painters and Stainers, London, United Kingdom
Finalist, DLA Award, London, United Kingdom
ACAVA ‘First Base’ Studio Award, London, United Kingdom
Duveen Travel Scholarship, Slade School of Fine Art, London, United Kingdom

1999
Ryoichi Sasakawa Scholarshio (for postgraduate study at Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, London, United Kingdom

1998
M. & C. Saatchi Award, Auckland, New Zealand

Collections

Gissings, London, United Kingdom
M. & C. Saatchi, Auckland, New Zealand
The University of Auckland Art Collection, Auckland, New Zealand

Bibliography

M. Burgess, “Where the Wild Things Aren’t: The Interior Worlds of Emily Wolfe,” Art New Zealand, no. 129 (Summer, 2008-2009): 38-41.
M. Dunn, Diversions: Recent Acquisitions from the University Art Collection, exhibition catalogue (Auckland: Gus Fisher Gallery, 2001).
S. Eichblatt, “Strange Wilderness,” Home New Zealand, 2013.
J. Fowler, “Social Fabric,” Urbis 28 (2007): 38-42.
D. Frizzell, It’s All About the Image (Auckland: Random House, 2011).
A. Hanan, “Cry Wolfe,” Next 10 (2000): 26-28.
Jerwood Charitable Foundation, Jerwood Contemporary Painters, exhibition catalogue (London: Jerwood Charitable Foundation, 2007).
L. Moore, “Emily’s Brilliant Career,” Fashion Quaterly, 2001, p. 189.
Z. Stanhope, Alive! Still Life into the Twenty-First Century: Adam Art Gallery, exhibition catalogue (Wellington: Adam Art Gallery, 2001).
Walker Art Gallery, John Moores 24, exhibition catalogue (Liverpool: National Museums, 2006)
A.M. White, “REDUX: The Classical in Contemporary New Zealand Art,” Sleight of Hand: The Port Nelson Suter Biennale, exhibition catalogue (Nelson: The Suter Art Gallery, 2010).
White Chapel Gallery, Painting: East End Academy, exhibition catalogue (London: White Chapel Gallery, 2009).

Cover illustration of Katherine Mansfield’s Short Stories (Auckland: Random House, 2008).