"I Haven't Seen a Face That Isn't Utterly Perfect": Capatos on How Faith and Travelling Shapes Art.
Updated: Mar 19, 2021
For artist Emmanuelle Capatos, faith and travel are the source of her inspiration. Her childhood in South Africa, time living in the UAE before moving to the UK to study, informs her practice even in lockdown, framing the way she sees the world. Capatos often likes to do sketches and enjoys experimenting with her subjects. She’s moved from colour, to charcoal, to sketching portraits on books.
In an exclusive interview with Nous Mag, Emmanuelle gives us a deep dive into what is shaping her work today.
You weren’t originally meant to pursue art. What inspired you to go down that route?
At the end of the 19/20 academic year, I had just finished studying my first year of Theatre and French, and for me it was such a great combination. I was studying the language of stories and the story of languages — and I really loved it.
But in June, I felt like I had an epiphany and decided to pursue art. At that point, applying to an art school was not an option. I had to choose between continuing with Theatre and French, or switching within the university to History of Art. There’s no practical element to the course, but switching back to first year would allow me to continue that in my own time.
It was a really difficult decision and I still love theatre and french so much, but I realized at the end of the day, I couldn’t not give art my all.
That’s incredible. There might be more people wanting to make the switch, what would you say to them? Or pursue art in general?
Don’t, if you don't need to.
I’m learning more and more about the difficulties of trying to make a living from art, and I think if you’re not totally absorbed in the process regardless of product or response, it might end up taking more from you than it feeds you.
There’s a lecture by the National Gallery of Toronto called ‘Exploring the Psychology of Creativity’ — if you want to see if art is a serious pursuit for you, it’s a good litmus test, I think. There wasn’t a sentence said there that didn’t resonate with me.
I know this seems like bleak advice, but if you do decide it’s something you need to pursue, there’ll be a richness in your life that will remain buoyant regardless of circumstance.
I agree. Lectures are such a good way to see if you can resonate with something. But I know travelling has also been an inspiration.
Oh for sure!
I grew up in South Africa, lived in the UAE for a year, and started studying in the UK. Beyond that, I’ve been privileged enough to have traveled to nine other countries. Throughout all of that, I haven’t met a person whose face I didn’t think was utterly perfect. The people I’ve met continue to serve as the biggest inspiration for my art.
Besides that, artists have inspired my work too. Two big artists that come to mind are Jake Weidmann and John Fenerov. Weidmann combines art and calligraphy in a way I haven’t seen anywhere else, and Fenerov’s charcoal portraits never fail to capture me.
You derive inspiration from many places. How has your faith influenced you?
Christianity is at the core of everything I do.
I often talk on my Instagram page about truth, how it surfaces in art, how it can guide your practice as an artist etc. It’s a tricky topic, but I try and ground it as much as possible.
Regardless, when I talk about the truth, it’s the truths flourishing from Biblical texts to which I’m referring.
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