Blake Emory has always been an artist. In the third grade, he was good enough to sell crayon-drawn baseball cards to his classmates. In fifth grade, he painted t-shirts and sold out all of his portraits of rock stars painted on vinyl.
He has been called one of the innovators of the Optic Modernism art movement, and has exhibited in prestigious galleries, as well as the world-famous Art Basel art fair. Now he is coming to Roosevelt Island, represented and shown by the Paul Calendrillo Gallery.
Emory’s exhibit, Illusions of Grandeur, features his hallmark series, Zebra Love, which meshes female bodies with modern design using bold brush strokes in the form of zebra stripes. The designs at first appear to be full of movement, but then the structure of the subject matter is revealed.
His work explores the notion that elegance and grandeur are themselves an illusion. The goal? To prove that beauty is not, in fact, in the eye of the beholder, but is instead a trick of the mind. Emory believes that the fabric of our social construct is manipulated by the desire for beauty, and the use of color and shading can trick the eye into seeing something that, when viewed closely, doesn’t exist.
“The entire show,” says Emory, “is linked to Optic Modernism; a new use of optic-illusion art while pulling techniques from the modern era of art, as well as applying a new creative contemporary approach.”
Emory is interested in “proving [that the] artist is the only way to beat the quantum computer. A machine can only process given information and the artist can create new information.”
The exhibit also incorporates a small levitation statue, a new artform for Emory. He says his inspiration comes from his realization that we have no real answers. “What is left [is] the pursuit of the illusion that we call reality… the patterns of nature that give us a gauge to maintain balance of matter and electromagnetism,” says Emory.
Emory was named a top emerging artist by Art Business News in 2014. His interests, however, stretch far beyond the world of visual arts. He has played in multiple bands, written and directed several plays, made a movie, and is a savvy entrepreneur linking art to business ventures.
He founded Emory Vodka, which he describes as “the first pure art-inspired vodka.” I teamed up with Blue Vase Marketing and, together, we created a top-shelf vodka garnished with my name and art,” says Emory. The vodka bottles are designed with Emory’s Zebra Love designs and his trademark red stiletto.
Up next for Emory are foldable canvases.
Illusions of Grandeur runs through December 3 at the Paul Calendrillo New York Gallery at 507 Main Street.