Guilherme Licurgo and Gregory Emvy Come Together To Create An Incredible Mixed Media Collection
Art is a useful tool in getting messages across, especially of the visual variant. Some people respond better to images than they do words; what the eyes see can be processed by the brain in different ways, hence the logic of certain works being open to interpretation. Photographer Guilherme Licurgo and mixed media artist Gregory Emvy know this well, both having utilised their unique craft to reach out to their audiences. For the duo, art is a substantial way of communication, as it can speak to all walks of life regardless of nation, race, and religion.
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Guilherme Licurgo started out as a model. A law graduate, he later moved to São Paulo, where he is now based. He went to study photography at the Panamericana School of Art, where he discovered that his real passion was to work behind the lens. His work has been featured in multiple titles such as Vogue Brasil, GQ Brazil,Ad Spain, and L’Officiel Brasil. He also collaborated with international brands such as Lancaster Paris, Parmigiani Fleurier, and Wella. In 2011, Licurgo was hired to work on his first advertising book project for Roberto Cavalli.
He was recognised by the Brazilian Foreign Office as one of the best contemporary artists in the country at the Il Itamaraty Contest of Contemporary Art. Some of his most recent
work include a book project and an exhibition with world renowned Martha Graham Dance Company. His Desert Flower project, a collaboration with the dance group, travels the world to this day at art fair and galleries. Licurgo believes photography should inspire, spark joy, and trigger a memory in the viewer.
Exposure to art came early for Gregory Emvy, whose grandfather was also a talented artist. He later graduated with a degree in fine arts from the Arts School of Nizhny Novgorod in his native Russia. His works, which veer away from politics and the past, are avant-garde yet soulful in nature, drawing inspiration from primitivism and the art style adapted by the French and émigré artists who worked in Paris in the 20th century. He has a favoured technique of contrasting dark and light tones, and utilising different materials such as oil, cement, wood, and metal for his mixed media projects. Working and living between Moscow and London, he has gained international renown, having had his first solo show (Human Souls) at the Frieze Week in London in 2014. He went on to exhibit at the Louvre and in Miami Art Basel, and participate in the Amsterdam Art Fair and the Venice Biennale.
Just last year, his Architectural Constructions collection was exhibited in the Museum of Architecture in Moscow, with three pieces auctioned off at Christie’s in partnership with UNESCO. Also a public figure and fashion influencer, Emvy has been features in several publications including GQ, Harper’s Bazaar, and Vogue.
Licurgo and Emvy combine their talents to conceptualise and stage Back to the Roots, a collection of 25 mixed media works that show the connection between man and nature. The 25 works are further subdivided to tell different stories, with each group dedicated to one of the basic elements: stone, water, wood, fire, and air. They travelled across nine countries for five months to complete the series
“We want to remind our audience that we, as human beings, have shared roots,” says Emvy of the concept. “The project has several core ideas: that we are all products of nature; that global warming is a very real and pressing threat; and that we must learn to accept ourselves. We are all beautiful by default and all equals in this world.” Back to the Roots also speaks out against consumerism, which, as stated by Licurgo in the exhibition brief, has reached its limits. Adds the photographer, “More is not necessarily better.”
Their voices are distinct and speak through their work, but communication remains their biggest challenge. “It is all about attracting people’s attention to the issues we are presenting and hoping they relate,” says Emvy. “The viewer must be interested—we want to educate, but not preach.” As creative professionals, they also observe that striking a balance between pure art and marketable art has become challenging.
They are, however, most pleased with the outcome of what they have produced. Both agree that merging their skillsets was essential to the project, resulting in a synergy neither could have achieved on his own.
- Words MJ Jose