Monday, June 18, 2012

Emma At Home

Matryoshka Tiny Face on Stretched Canvas, Emma at Home.
Growing up in San Antonio, most of my friends were from military families.  I always envied the little treasures their fathers brought home from trips abroad: the tiny gold carriage from England, a replica of the Queen's; the ballpoint pen with little soldiers that marched when you moved it up and down; and most of all, the brightly colored, wooden nesting dolls, or matryoshkas, from Russia.  I could sit and play for hours with them, stacking and unstacking the mother and her tiny daughters, as my friends rolled their eyes and begged to do something else.

Recently, I discovered Emma at Home at Joss & Main and immediately felt that old longing again.  Created by Emma Gardner, an artist with ties to England, Japan and Russia, these gorgeous paintings remind me of those coveted nesting dolls from my childhood, but with an amusing twist.

All of Gardner's work is influenced by her background, and her pieces, which include Bento Box pillows and fabulous modern rugs, truly add a bright pop of contemporary style to the home.  But the Matryoshka paintings are my absolute favorite pieces, and Gardner's sense of humor is evident within them.  From her depictions of the little dolls gazing at themselves in the mirror to the fabulous Mug Shot piece, all of the artist's Matryoshka portraits are created with a sense of depth and dimension and feel more like sculptures upon the canvas. 

The portraits are incredibly detailed and capture the intricacies of the actual painted nesting dolls.  And interestingly, though the matryoshka figure has become quite popular as a decorating trend in recent years, the production of authentic Russian nesting dolls is declining dramatically as fewer and fewer artists are trained to craft these gorgeous pieces.  Gardner's paintings are essentially two-dimensional renderings of the beloved dolls and retain the beauty and authenticity of those created in Russia.

My favorite piece, Matryoshka Mug Shot Giclee on Canvas, Emma at Home.

A gorgeous detail of the famous dolls, Matryoshka Half-Face on Stretched Canvas, Emma at Home.

Mother and daughter sharing a moment, Matryoshka Mirror Image on Stretched Canvas, Emma at Home.
A daughter emerging from her mother's shell, Matryoshka Mother Daughter on Stretched Canvas, Emma at Home.
A trio of nesting dolls looking out at the world, Matryoshka Group Stare on Stretched Canvas, Emma at Home.
Another view of the lovely doll, Matryoshka Three-Quarter Face Giclee on Canvas, Emma at Home.
Emma Gardner's Matryoshka paintings are incredibly realistic and beautiful. Though I'm no longer that little girl envying the nesting dolls of her friends, I have fallen in love with these pieces and hope to own a few of my own someday.

To see more of Gardner's work, please visit her website, Emma at Home.

(All photographs used with permission from Emma at Home.  Many thanks to Patrick McDarrah for his help with this post.)