Through visual illusions and contrasting mixed languages, Emilie Fitzgerald’s work investigates the balance between subject-matter and surface-matter. Using Winnicott’s theory of transitional phenomena, Emilie uses nostalgic and often kitsch imagery with reference to fairy tales and children’s stories, exploring themes of temptation, seduction and deception through symbolic food and landscapes. Combining different visual languages in a pastiche approach to painting, Emilie often transcribes archetypal images from artists like Paul Cezanne, Salvador Dali and Matisse, contrasting these against Bob Ross landscapes and children’s illustrations as well as photography and digital art. Emilie creates a level of visual ambiguity that questions what is real and what is artificial; what is found and what is created. In a layered, fragmentary approach to making, different ways of painting are combined to expose the materiality of the other, referencing artists such as David Salle and Laura Owens. Photorealism sits next to a painterly brush mark and texture is used to create a trompe l’oeil effect. Illusions bring the surface-matter to the forefront, reminding the viewer that even the photographic elements are still just paint, whilst the objects, of which the spectator can relate to, brings the focus back on to the subject. As a result, neither the subject-matter nor the surface-matter is privileged over the other.