Emmanuel Bornstein was born in 1986 in Toulouse, France and grew up there.

Ridge Did you study art before taking up full time as an artist? Where?

Emmanuel Yes. I have been painting all my life ever since I was a little child. At the age of 18 I worked with a painter in Paris for one year. After that I studied at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts in Paris where I passed my diploma in 2011.

Ridge When did you come to Berlin?

Emmanuel The first time I came was in 2009. I spent a year studying and painting at the UDK with the help of an Ofaj scholarship. After having done my diploma in Paris I came back in September 2011 to live and work as a painter in Berlin.

Ridge Why did you come to Berlin and from where?

Emmanuel My family is Jewish. My grandfather was born in Berlin 1922. Because my work is deeply connected to my family roots it was very important for me to come back to this city and to paint over here. Also Germany and especially Berlin is the place for painting nowadays. There are many painters over here that I connect to and I feel a part of this generation of artists.

Ridge Which artists do you consider most influential or just admire?

Emmanuel One of my masters is Goya. From today's artists I much admire Daniel Richter, Baselitz, Jonas Burgert and Francis Bacon. I also like the work of the Chapman Brothers.

Ridge What motivates you to come into the studio each day?

Emmanuel I have to.

Ridge Where would you like to be in 10 years time?

Emmanuel Its hard to say. In my studio.

Ridge What is your favorite part of Berlin and why?

Emmanuel My studio, ha ha.

Ridge You studied at the Beaux Arts in Paris. What was the culture of the institution like?

Emmanuel In my studio, opposite the wall I would paint against, there was a big window facing the Louvre which was across on the other side of the Seine. When painting I would thus constantly look back and forth between my painting and this view. To me this situation was like a constant battle between the museums masterpieces and my work.

Ridge Do you identify yourself with any specific tradition?

Emmanuel In a way yes. When I was younger I did a lot of copies of Spanish masters, like Vélasquez, Goya, Greco. I felt close to them and the way they painted figures. And after thousands of copies of Ruben's big compositions which I made in order to understand how he deals with multiple-figures I think that my compositions are influenced by his.

Ridge Your work has a very dark subject matter. What motivates to work on these themes as opposed to others?

Emmanuel For me this question doesn't present itself at all. I have no choice but accept this subject as my only and very motor to paint. Whatever I paint one of the most fundamental questions of my work is always the one about the human condition and how to deal with it in painting. My choice is to stage and to not be realistic because with this subject you can't. You can't represent it but as a painter I feel I have the power to evoke imagination.

Ridge You use a very simple pallet in your paintings. How did that develop?

Emmanuel When I first arrived in Germany I felt the necessity to only work in black and white. Maybe like Primo Levi says that is due to the fact that we imagine the camps in black and white and we can not represent them in color. However to me black and white are the colors of memory and disappearance and white is the color of bones. The yellow in my paintings arrived later, like a very strong highlight, as well as being also the color of urine and humiliation.