Emil Naula is a Swedish artist who deftly uses the clean visual impact of his installations, drawings and sculptures to raise serious questions and to provoke discussion.
Naula studied Political Science in Sweden, followed by Journalism. Nourished by his studies was the underlying production of art that developed from his late teens towards sketching and digital collages. Employment as a Communications Officer meant working with Graphic Design, branding, communication, and press. In a move to Barcelona in 2012 his focus switched to the study and production of art, to which end; he was offered the chance of a solo show in Galeria 3 Punts, 5th Sept- 21st Sept 2013, Barcelona, as part of the Art Nou Primera Visio initiative that promotes new young artists.
Naula’s interest in Politics and Journalism is central to the concept of each piece and his graphic design skills bring them to a communicable visual clarity. All Naula’s experience is visible and in evolving his art process he has found a means to do what is important to him:
‘when I was in political science, to discuss the things you have to write a report, and it has to be 30 or 50 pages and maybe it’s not that accessible to people to read…with (his art work) you can have the same great discussion in another way, and you can reach more people’
‘Reach’ was the title of his show, and his ‘string pieces’, installations and drawings created with string/thread, do just that as they stretch out to envelope or spill into spaces. The Swedish Arms export (yes, in fact the third largest exporter globally per capita measured), Drones, the questionable objectivity of the news projected by the prolific Fox News channel, and Naula’s own take on feminism, are some issues brought to attention by his works.
‘USUAV (United States of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles)’ is an installation where red and blue threads are carefully strung taut on the wall to represent the simple and recognisable icon that is the United States flag. But the lines continue out of the flag’s borders to stretch out into the gallery space, ricocheting off the walls to create a fine and controlled web that almost encroaches upon the viewer. A paper aeroplane hangs amidst from the ceiling and the implication is that as easy as launching a paper aeroplane across an office floor is the ease of initiating warfare on the other side of the world. As much as some may see the reach of the US as oppressive others might read jubilant patriotism in Naula’s exquisite flag and it is the complexity of the debate in between that he hopes to provoke, rather than a bald critique.
The facts of Swedish arms exports might surprise many; in ‘Good Guys with Guns’ upon a world map and emanating from that calm northern country not known for it’s warfare, Naula sent stark red threads shooting out over the world to dominate the image. These were the 61 countries Sweden dealt arms with in 2012.
What he presents is from deep research; ‘If something intrigues me I tend to dig down, dig into’. In this way he shares facts that should be, and possibly aren’t well known. In another show, ‘Attention’ as part of the Canvas Peace Project, which aims to spread awareness of the situation in South Sudan, Naula shared a previously top secret document, uncovered in the Swedish press, insinuating western oil company involvement in the killing of civilians. He presented the document in his work: ‘A Closer Look’. That his works raise awareness as well as discussion is certain.
For all his political concerns other work produced has been more playful; one detects a dislike of the office environment in ‘DIY: Anti-Anxiety Wheel’, presented in another show. The wheel is a mock human hamster wheel; ‘a construction of the safe life- a steady run without crossroads…over and over again’ and he admits ‘I was caught up in it for quite a while, four years, and I’m happy to now have an environment that is not as safe as that kind of routine based life. I was amazed to have a solo show like this, to have this space and talk about all these different topics… and having these great discussions’. With many more things to talk about Naula won’t be returning to the ‘hamster wheel’ any time soon but you do have to admit those constructs have helped shape him into a very effective artist.