INTERVIEW WITH ROXANNE SAURIOL


A wonderfully free spirited individualist and a self taught artist from Montreal. 

 


AA00

Where did you grow up?

R.S

I grew up in Montreal Canada, had a beautiful childhood, was always encouraged to do arts and music. Most particularly signing lessons for almost a decade where I had a terrible relationship with the teacher, which is also probably why I chose the field of visual arts.



A00

Did you paint from a young age?


R.S

I actually only started painting when I had my daughter at 21, breastfeeding with one hand and painting with the other. I showed a bit of talent as a child, but like any other child, I would draw at school or to pass time.



A00

Growing up in Montreal, what's the best memory you have from your childhood?


R.S

The very best childhood memory I have is summers spent at my cottage, in Gore town (yes that’s a real place) we didn’t have running water and would basically shower in the lake. No TV, no radio, and an outhouse toilet. I’d just go in the forest and make up my own universe or spend hours in the lake.



A00

What inspired you to do what you do?


R.S

I am not exactly sure what inspired me to do what I do but having a newborn in what I would call a precarious living situation really pushed me to want to be good at something else than tending bars. I picked up brushes one day and decided that's what I was going to put all my energy in until it pays off.



A00

What's your studio like?


R.S

I had a home studio until very recently, but my current studio is a nice little cozy nest in the middle of the city in an old factory, I have a bunch of plants, and sometimes take our Indian ringneck baby parrot with me (the bird was my boyfriend’s idea)



A00

Do you listen to music when you work?


R.S

I mostly listen to podcasts, I have an obsession with Lex Fridman, that or self-hypnosis meditations lol, sometimes music but it tends to get on my nerves if I’m highly concentrating on something. The music playlist will range from hardcore punk rock to 90’s hip-hop, religious choir, german techno, or oldies love songs, I have no chill. I sometimes just put like some nature sounds like a creek with birds or ocean sounds, I find that very soothing, especially in the dead cold winter.



A00

Before starting your day, do you have any daily routines or rituals you go through?


R.S

I wake up around 5:30 am, have 2 cups of coffee at home then by 7 I’m at the studio, then I meditate for 20m, then will paint till 5.



A00

What sort of role do would you say artists have in society?


R.S

I think that artists only exist as a reflection of what is already there if it makes sense. Like radio frequencies. I think that the purpose is not about doing something about society or being an activist but to just witness and interpret what’s already there. Subconsciously or consciously.



A00

Is there any artist you look up to? Inspired by?


R.S

I am obsessed with Christian Rex Van Minnen, I think he mastered all aspects of what painting is supposed to be.



A00

Living through such a diverse, and somewhat strange era, are there any social or cultural phenomena that you find especially inspiring? or fascinated by?



R.S

I think this whole pandemic got me fascinated with people and politics and how quickly and insidiously some things can become almost religious or cult-like. I think that people tend to forget how tribal we really are and how history always repeats itself. That’s also why I’m using old masters or religious references in my work at the moment.



A00

When you say "tribal" what do you mean?


R.S

I mean that we’re just a bunch of weird creatures with instincts and desires that are imperative to our survival and that our need to be validated and loved runs deep in our blood. Ignoring the fact that we are biased by those survival instincts when we are making decisions or expressing our opinions in social settings can be dangerous or at least idiotic I believe. When you’re saying or doing something only to be accepted by who you believe to be the majority, it can be tricky territory, if that makes sense.



A00

Being alone, and facing your inside is probably one of the job descriptions of being an artist. Many consider themselves an observer and interpreter of society. What do you think?


R.S

The best way to know anything in life is to get to know yourself (I believe)



A00

Let's talk about your work. Your work and style have evolved massively comparing to your earlier works. But the use of female form as the main figure has been something consistent as a theme. Who are they? What's the story?


R.S

Great question! and thank you for noticing the shift, I did work harder than ever in that last year, mostly because there’s nothing else to do and since painting is already a very lonely practice it didn’t change anything for me, it just got rid of distractions, so the whole lockdown paid off in my case.

I’ve basically been using women as my only subject because it’s what came to me so naturally, and it’s easy for me to build a narrative when I’m using a subject I can relate to. These women are basically my friends (or became friends). Social media really facilitates the process on that matter. When it comes to inspiration, I’ll try my best to do something that they’ll want to hang in their living room so I always consider their personal aesthetic and style before I build a concept and always try to honor the women I paint to the best of my abilities.


A00

If you were to describe femininity or women as a concept using 5 words. What would it be?


R.S

I can’t answer that because I’m still looking for what it means.



A00

You also referenced classic paintings like "The Birth of Venus".


R.S

My “birth of Venus” was kind of a commentary on what fertility means to us or how life’s meaning in a general sense has evolved through time. You might notice the “blasé” look on her face and expression of boredom. So to get back to what I said earlier, that’s the radio frequency I’m receiving when I’m putting this painting in a modern context.



A00

The subtle references to social issues through means like symbolism and irony have always brought this undeniable depth to the work. How do you build those concepts and ideas?


R.S

I like to make fun of things and pretend it’s a serious matter. That’s why my paintings look so dramatic, people rarely laugh when they see the work even if it’s often the reaction I was aiming for. In the same way "Romeo and Juliet" was written vs interpreted.



A00

I'm sure there are moments where you feel stuck in the studio. When you are working through problems in your work, who do you talk to?


R.S

When I’m stuck and need an idea or a twist on a subject I’ll ask my boyfriend, sounds cliche but he’s actually the craziest/weirdest person I know and that’s what you want.



A00

Do you ever feel afraid of certain subjects, styles, media?


R.S

I used to paint with acrylics and was terrified of oils for the longest time, I’m self-taught and just the thought of learning to paint with such a technical medium was just the most terrifying thing. I only started about a year ago, and it has really paid off, never looking back. I’m also terrified of abstract, I wouldn’t know how to start or stop and it’s just such a leap of faith to even think to go there, I don’t think I could do it at the moment, or if I was going to, I’d do like Gerhard Richter and wait till I’m old.



A00

The way you think you see the world, experience the world...do you think it's different from non-artists?


R.S

I definitely think you need a higher critical mind than average to do any sort of art. You need to be able to judge if you suck, that’s first, and then how to improve, and you often need to be a total dick with yourself in order to do that. You need to be able to meticulously analyze things and pay attention to details that would normally go unnoticed. Having a hyperactive mind that constantly judges or analyzes stuff helps. Also being able to spend 50h/week completely alone with your thoughts. That they won't tell you in art school.



A00

Art can be so many things. Documentation, reflection, the materialization of fantasies, communication, etc. What does your work intend to do?


R.S

I don’t think I’m setting precise intentions with my work, I just do things as life goes and react to life through and with my art. So in a way, I’m communicating whatever are the dominant ideas in my mind at the moment.



A00

Do you ever wonder or fantasize about the future? What the future could or should be?


R.S

Phew, what a question, the future. I always wonder what’s going to happen in the future, both personally planetary or cosmically haha. I don’t think I can answer that question simply, I’ll just say that we’re the universe experiencing itself, spinning through spacetime and I’m here just trying to have a good time.



A00

Alan Watts once said, "Life is not a problem to be solved, but an experience to be had." Do you agree?


R.S

Well, problem-solving is the foundation of life, think of all the hoops and loops nature had to go through just to make a worm, problem-solving is fun if you think about it and that’s basically what took humanity where it is now. But my real answer is that I don’t know how to answer that.



A00

Do you believe in the principles of Karma?


R.S

I believe that if you act in harmony with your principles you should never be worried about Karma. So yes I believe Karma’s a thing. I also believe what Marcus Aurelius said: What you do in life echoes in eternity



A00

Besides art, do you have any secret hobbies? or something you're really into?


R.S

Cats, I’m really into cats. I try to read as much as I can.



A00

Any book recommendations?


R.S

I’m reading Ayn Rand at the moment and made me realize that all my life I was a hardcore individualist and that I have a profound disdain for being told what to. That’s probably why I’m a painter. I also think it’s hilarious that people hate her so much, the main reason I’m reading her.



A00

One more thing, tell us a secret!


R.S

I’ve been micro-dosing mushrooms for about 5 years now (on&off) and it has done wonders to my mood, self-awareness, and creativity.
 
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