Samira Velasquez studied fine arts in south France and lives now in Montréal, Québec Canada.
“My drawings are surreal incarnations of personal obsessions about the report to the body, violence, women experience and sexuality.My work explores the recurring nightmares of the female psyche: the sublime and the disgusting, ugliness and beauty, sexual desire and its paradoxes, the monstrosity.
Hybrid engineering, organic and animal forms in my scenes involved and act as symbols of primitive and unconscious impulses. Reconciliation of my artistic and existential research for me works to create like a catharsis.”
I had the pleasure to interview her last week.
Here you can read it full:
How did you become an artist?
As many artists, I started to draw as a child, beside many other arts forms such as
writing, collage and sculpting clay characters. My mother is a painter so we had
plenty of art books in our house that I loved to browse, and I guess art was a natural
and obvious form of expression to me. I went to study arts at university in France,
but I think it taught me more about art history and philosophy of arts rather than
techniques. The teachers were more into performances, video and installations
and every time I showed drawings they seemed to think it was an old-fashioned,
uninteresting medium! I got discouraged many times, but I kept on drawing for
myself. I moved to Montreal three years ago and the realization that I really wanted to
become an artist became clear there. I found a gallery that I liked and met people like-
minded that made my art evolve, in an ambiance of motivation and emulation. This
year, I worked hard to find my style and favorite mediums (even thought it still is in
progress!), so I guess I am more self-taught rather than academically trained.
Tell me something about the process behind your art, do you use any specific motives or certain workflows?
I work part-time in a restaurant so I am working on my drawings half of the week.
Usually I start working on a sketchbook to make ideas come. If I’m excited about
what the drawing becomes, I finish it. It often starts with a portrait, since I am
interested in the female figure, and then I look for ways to distort it and tell a story
that symbolically has a meaning for me. For bigger artworks, it begins with an
uncertain vision of a composition, some elements that I want to use, such as animals
or body parts. I usually think about what I am currently living in my life that can
inspire me and ways to transform it in a single picture. I start to draw it with graphite
so I am sure to place the elements where I want to and be able to erase it if I am not
satisfied, and then I retrace it with ballpoint pen. If I think colors can add something
to the drawing, I color it with pens. I make up my mind for some time to be certain of
what I draw, but I am kind of impatient person, which I try to work on, since art
process takes time! For a big scale it can take a month, but usually it is quicker. I also
like drawing with my boyfriend who is a painter, because we motivate and critic each
other at different stages of the creative process.
What do you want to express with your art? Do you try to come to terms with
I found that art was a way of expressing intense feelings without words or social
conventions, like a form of psychoanalysis or catharsis. I try to materialize feelings
and sensations, but I like to use metaphor and construct my creation as a riddle, full of
symbolic elements of the collective mind.
I make images out of personal obsessions on the body and his mysterious desires, made
of contradictions and oppositions. Explicit sexual images, explosion of the anatomy
and also vegetal or animal elements, in a constant macro-micro zoom from the inside to
the outside, are like surrealists condensations of the human sensorial experience of life and decay.
As in my personal life, I am always on a quest for ways to deconstruct and
recreate identity, and finally being able to arrive at the essence of it.
The fact that I am a woman, whether I want it or not, influences the way I present
sexuality. I don’t know if art has a gender, but my feminine body experience is present in
my work, in all the floral blossoms, holes, the leaks and drips… Which is funny because
a lot of people think ectoplasm is a man, because my pseudonym is neutral! I find it
interesting because in the end, the viewer always carries what he is and what he has
experienced to analyze an artwork. So I guess that the gap between what I expressed
and what the viewer interprets is ok. I do not make propaganda, and I don’t try to make
people think a certain way, but rather, I want to address a more instinctive and primitive
part at the core of ourselves.
What do you to work with? Do you have favourite materials you like to use?
Lately I have been more into drawing with pens on paper, mostly in black and white.
I have different sizes of black pens that I worship! I am still looking for the perfect
papers to make more watercolors!
I also love fabric, with which I have been making jewelry and one-of-a-kind clothing
for the past 5 years. I also make textile art: I draw and paint on paper, then sew it on a
chosen fabric as the background, like for example the piece ‘’A ma soeur’’. Another
technique that I love is drawing portraits or writing words on the fabric as if the
sewing machine was a pen.
I also paint a bit on canvas. In fact I like to experiment different mediums to find the
more accurate and poetically able to transmit what I want.
I admire a lot of great masters, that have a surrealist, perverse and macabre twist,
such as Bosch, Goya, Egon Schiele… I also admire a lot of contemporary figurative
artists, such as John Dyer Baizley, Stephane Blanquet, Vania Zouravliov, and Caitlin
Hackett which I recently discovered. Montreal is full of good artists that are inspiring,
some that I met at the small underground gallery Usine 106U, such as Scott Ferry, the
engraver René Donais, and my boyfriend the painter Xavier Landry, to name a few.
However, I don’t have any specific role models in the visual contemporary art world,
anyone who has passion, wisdom and dedication to his practice is an inspiration to