Emma Barone
Contemporary Irish Painter Noted for Shoe Art and Illustrative Paintings of Trees.

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For late 20th century paintings,
see: Contemporary Art.

Emma Barone (b.1968)
Contemporary Irish Artist

A few years ago the contemporary Irish artist Emma Barone made a shoe painting for a friend. After it was finished she decided to do another. Before long she had enough canvases to stage Shoe Show (2007), and the rest is history. A stroke of luck you might say, but it needed Barone's extraordinary vision as well as a deep empathy with the zen-like appeal of female footwear to make it happen. She also happens to be an outstanding painter. And if that's not enough, her colourful compositions are meticulously designed. Luscious tones, harmonious backgrounds, sensual shapes, enormous feelgood - these are design masterpieces. Never mind Jimmy Choo, or Manolo Blahniks, this lady could do Prada, Chanel and Porsche, without batting an eyelid. And let's not forget her first solo show Between the Trees, with its innovative slide-like illustrations of arboreal matter.

For other modernists based in Ireland, please see: Contemporary Irish Artists. For the world's best 200 practitioners, see: Top Contemporary Artists.


See: Best Irish Artists.

Born in Tullamore, Co Offaly, Barone has been drawing and painting nearly all her life, and has been active in numerous creative disciplines including animation, stained glass, mosaic, and architectural ceramics, as well as interior, kitchen, graphic and jewellery design.

As a painter, she has worked in a variety of media including oils, acrylic, chalk and oil pastels, ink, charcoal pencil, and gouache, although her main medium at present is acrylics.

Her influences, noticeable in the colour schemes of several of her works, include the modern landscape artist William Crozier HRHA (b.1930) and the contemporary figurative painter 'Rasher' (Mark Kavanagh) (b.1977).


She has enjoyed four successful solo exhibitions, in venues like Birr Arts Festival (Aug 2008); Birr Theatre & Arts Centre (Shoe Show) (Oct-Jan 2007); Sheelagh Na Gig Gallery, Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary (Jan 2007); and Offaly County Council, Aras an Chontae, Tullamore (Nov 2005). In addition, she has also participated in numerous group exhibitions - including several juried shows - throughout Ireland.

Now based in her studio in Birr, Co Offaly, her works hang in the Amsterdam World Trade Centre, and throughout Ireland and the United States.

Personally, I feel Barone's talent could take her anywhere in the field of painting or design, not least because she manages to cram so much sensuality and humour into her paintings. To illustrate my point, take a look at two of her compositions, Fantasy Shoes and Pink Shoes.

In the first, two shoes snuggle suggestively alongside each other on a bed-like background in broad daylight. Their intimacy is artfully enhanced by the mosaic design of the background and its shadows. Their red insides, reminiscent of human lips and tongue, hint at all manner of sensual delights; suddenly one wonders where the owner of the shoes might be.

Pink Shoes is more playful, from the mouse-like design of the lacing to the frivolous colours and slim shapes of the heels. This is a true contemporary still-life, with a tremendous duality of form which fixes our attention like a pair of motionless dancers. Two orange soles, two sets of laces, two matchstick heels, two liquid shadows - all interlocked, as if they were glued to the grey floor. And the three colours (orange, pink and grey) are beautifully matched: no interference whatsoever. A little piece of surrealistic magic.


Our Opinion

Women rave about Barone's shoes, but I rave about her art. This is a deeply perceptive and talented artist who could turn her combination of painting and design skills to almost anything. As she herself says: "Shoes are [only] a template on which I base my artistic experiments."

To contact Emma Barone, or to see more examples of her paintings, take a look at her stunning website: www.emmabarone.com

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• For details of famous painters and sculptors from Ireland, see Irish Artists.

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