Believe it or not, but as someone who's somewhere on the ace spectrum or whatever you want to call it, I don't consider myself an expert or even an informed hobbyist when it comes to the world of erotic art. Personally speaking, my pornography habits have always been fairly banal outside having a penchant for literary erotica that I've been meaning to explore further for a minute now, though Sacher-Masoch is my dude. What I do know about erotic art, or at least I do after having encountered the work of Apollonia Saintclair alongside existing favorites like Tina Lugo and new-to-me voices like Aba/Love Eroticism is that the visceral response one experiences can't be denied, and that 'good' erotic art leaves much for the mind to mull over, even at its most graphic. What counts is that you feel or experience something, be it a movie that your mind manifests upon seeing one still of or a memory triggered by a certain facial expression, a bodily shudder, or moment of sincere warmth between humans (and animals, and fantastical creatures, and giant phalluses). We all have our tastes, our desires, and some of us our fetishes--though I've never quite understood the need to fetishize an erotic eccentricity instead of simply integrating it into one's sexual practice without encoding it with the residue of the taboo. It's up to us to not just figure out what those are but how to safely and sexily make them work for us and our partners, be they one or many.
In putting together this interview with Apollonia Saintclair, one of the most popular erotic artists working in the field currently, I found myself tracing my own history with erotic art and pornography. Growing up in a Christian town to artist parents who worked at the college down the street--a sort of bubble within a bubble--I soon grew accustomed to the many different opinions and viewpoints about sex that coexisted just within my little world. From the rape-y purity culture espoused by the various mega churches to the abstinence-as-sex-ed taught at my public high school, I honestly experienced a more open, healthy, and instructive dialogue about sex at my goddamn Catholic elementary school than the deafening silence the topic was met with in the public school system.
That said, I've noticed a growing self-awareness amongst those of my generation and younger of a fundamental rift between ourselves and our parents, who while largely supportive, weren't always the most eager to talk about sex. As I've gotten older and talked to more people about our differing sexual awakenings and experiences in a decade where you could watch Sex in the 90s before heading off to Sunday school, I'm still a bit shocked at the number of different sexual narratives I and others internalized during our adolescence. Now, with Pornhub the fortieth most popular site in the world, it just seems like a given that everybody is obsessed with sex and cool with that, but that wasn't always the case growing up--and is it really a surprise that the porn women primarily watch on that site is the decidedly non-rape-y "lesbian?" Gentlemen, while it's totally chill to get off on that bullshit, please don't try that crap in the bedroom unless prompted. Moving on.
One of my dearest friends in the world with whom I grew up recently revealed that his father has never once used sexually objectifying language or even commented on another person's physical attractiveness over the course of my friend's entire life. And while I had a father who made me comfortable with the idea of finding both men and women attractive in the most fundamental sense, the residue of second wave feminism and blue collar catholicism commingled in my household to create an environment equal parts safe and stifling. I was forbidden by my mother from collecting DC and Marvel comic due to the blown-up bosoms worn by their few female heroes, but got the pass when I copped Liz Phair's second album as my dad was a huge Exile in Guyville fan. Such a concern about the "symbolic field" on the part of mom seemed odd to my young self when considered against the Robert Mapplethorpe books I had swallowed whole only a few years earlier, but I was certainly in no place to argue against this rather harmless hypocrisy. For while I whinged at first, I didn't particularly mind being allowed to only read rather benign comic books like The Adventures of Tintin and The Adventures of Asterix when I was given considerably free range in the books I rabidly read, including anything written by Kurt Vonnegut, Michael Crichton, Tony Hillerman, and everything that found its way on to the Times' Best Sellers list. Making the situation all the more head-scratching was when my mom started reading the books after I had finished them, books often full of vividly challenging sex scenes and erotic moments that exposed me to a whole range of odd fetishes and practices. I still remember the giggles we shared a few months after my pre-teen sister gave me a copy of The Ice Storm when we both confessed to having tried and failed to make our way through the book's almost comical amount of filth, a fact made all the funnier when considering that my twelve-year-old sister had actually bought the paperback at the local book shop (which I found out on my return home a few weeks back is finally closing...good people).
Thus it made sense that a few years later when I sixteen or seventeen and we finally had a cable modem that the porn I was downloading and printing--yes, printing--from the internet were terribly-written pieces of crude erotica, lacking the oddball charm of books like John Irving'sThe Hotel New Hampshire, whose climactic final act comprised of a drawn-out batshit crazy sibling sex scene that still sends my head spinning to this day. Indeed, I found textual sex far more titillating than the limited pornographic imagery and videos our tiny bandwidth could handle, the charmless blond models just not really doing the trick for me. And I'll never forget the confusion that danced in my dad's eyes when he rather gently admonished me for downloading such smut, found under my bed during a routine bed flip (seriously), thinking to myself the whole time, "Well, that was nothing compared to what mom and I used to read." Memories, huh?
The utter horror I felt the first time my male counterparts in elementary school turned their pens to drawing naked women was due to seeing such crudely rendered depictions of the female form, understanding then why my mother had been so concerned about my ability to distinguish realistic body expectations from the idealized and unhealthy. Breasts seemed to come in only one size--massive--and surely enough, once puberty took ahold of both genders and the "pretty girls" were seemingly chosen for me and my male peers--usually by other male peers considerably higher up on the adolescent popularity pecking order--it was the skinny and large-breasted who were the most desirable, their hair primarily a sponge with which to soak up hydrogen peroxide. The thrill of not fully knowing about sex or really understanding it was soon choked out by a whitewashed beauty standard with which I felt no connection, no excitement. I'll truly never forget having another friend who was repeatedly teased for liking "black chick porn." I never said these were exactly fond memories.
So it was with a gobsmacked pleasure, a pure if not somewhat naughty delight like that of finding some forbidden comic book, when I stumbled upon Saintclair's Instagram earlier this year full of classic comic book-styled images that fused the tidiness of Hergé's ligne claire style with an equally neo-realistic and surrealistic sensibility alongside a literary-informed eroticism. Saintclair's images are like self-contained vortices of desire, choose-your-own-adventure for your most secretive erotic indulgences. Her imagery fuses with the viewer in a symbiotic narrative endeavor, the artist supplying the tools for the id to go HAM, weaving together its own beginning and end for which Saintclair has provided the creative jump-off. The aestheticizing of desire has always been a barbed path, for if you go too literal it just becomes pornography, which generally lacks the eroticism of more conceptual or just better-shot or drawn erotica. I recall watching one of the many documentaries about the porn industry that dot streaming services like Netflix and Hulu in which a former female star discussed the process by which she and her husband, also a former porn star, rediscovered what the erotic and passionate meant for them, dismissing the sex shown in most mainstream porn movies as "machine sex," I was rather struck by this extremely on-point characterization of the type of templated, ready-made porn or erotica that makes up the bulk of the industry. Hell, when taking in a site like Erika Lust's Xconfessions, the alt-queer pornography of Courtney Trouble, or reading Hedi El Kholti's Animal Shelter journal of art, sex, and literature, these erotic outliers seem a far more healthy expression of human desire than the Brazzers vids Elliot Rodger inhaled like so many other dumb young men his age; spray tan and plastic surgery-enhanced fuckathons that help to shape expectations of both body standards and sexual practices, ones that are almost always bent toward pleasing the man.
Of course, while there will likely always be a staunch anti-pornography faction within feminism, it's become much easier to simply make the kind of porn or erotic art that you and others like you want to see. A dynamic that Saintclair's work is especially acute at capturing is the fact that storytelling and eroticism can significantly enhance one another as one is forced to recognize that the erotic can infuse every moment of every day with an electric charge that can give rise to the novel, the perhaps-possible, the virtual. By stretching the believability of a particular image into a void that exists between the plausible and fantastical, Saintclair makes manifest the often hallucinatory, out-of-body quality that sex or an erotic experience can have. start to resemble an effort to smash the current desire machine embodied by mainstream pornography as well as Hollywood's depiction of contemporary romance and sex, which seems like the same old stories with kinda new faces. To put it in other terms used by Saintclair herself, the symbolic field is one still primarily driven by masculine conceptions of desire, conceptions that are easily scalable and dynamic, enfolding new and marginalized manifestations of desire and making them "safe" and nondisruptive in the process.
For active fans of erotic art, Saintclair's name borders on the household as since first emerging already quite realized under the Apollonia Saintclair pseudonym in 2013. When Axl Rose wears your art while on stage with Guns n' Roses, well, you must be doing something, right? Appearing on sites like Xconfessions--the site run by the writer Erika Lust that is home to much of the current vanguard of erotic artists--and magazines like Nakid, Saintclair's referential and irreverent images were near impossible to deny either the talent of creativity at work and arguably raised the bar for many in the medium. Saintclair's drawings make clear the "infinite field of discovery" allowed by erotic art, her detailed figures accented by a wide range of both esoteric and seemingly banal elements, both ultimately transmuted through the viewer's response to the work and filling in of the blanks and questions it may raise. Indeed, field is truly the perfect word to describe both the planar sensibility that allows for the artist to draw associations with whatever falls into her range and the two-way relationship the art has with the viewer in whom much of the meaning contained in a piece is created. Charting the different themes and references at work in Saintclair's ever-growing body of work would likely require a flow chart, but some tropes of note include an anthropomorphized breed of bestiality, the domination of male partners, the tenderness and fragility of making and expressing love, the organic nature of the phallus, the poetry of the female body, autoerotic geometry, and literary-informed bodyscapes, just to name a new.
When it comes to potentially parsing out Saintclair's influences or inspirations, one picks up on a perhaps Cronenberg-inspired fixation with bodily appendages, especially in her vivid phalluses that almost resemble sentient organisms. This exists alongside a Lynchian form of surrealism that combines the full range of the imagination with the banal, everyday realities we each seek to transmute, be it through exercise, drugs, sex, art, or all/none of the above. There is an uncanny and powerful energy at work in Saintclair's digital drawings, images that recall the belabored ink-and-pen illustrations of horror and pulp fantasy illustrator Virgil Finlay. Though while Finlay's time-consuming process allowed him to create "only" 2600+ works of art during his thirty-five year career, Saintclair's digital arsenal of tools has allowed her to create work of similar detail at a far faster rate, with her nearing the thousand mark on her output just under this pseudonym alone.
As it turns out, anonymity is not particularly common in the exhibitionist-friendly realm of erotica, though when discussing her reasoning why she's chosen to keep her personal life totally under wraps, I can't help but flashing to a scene in which a female artist would have to switch certain stores and her daily routine altogether just to avoid the knowing looks and inappropriate comments that are unfortunately never far away. But Saintclair also possesses something that others in her field perhaps don't, or at least lack the confidence to know when they do: raw and unbridled talent. And fortunately, working hard at your art and filling out a wholly new identity illustration by illustration is still a viable path, especially when you're able to add something new to the digital and IRL artistic discourse. Additionally, this lack of backstory afford the viewer the all-too rare experience of having to assess a piece fully on its own merits, and to be fair, Saintclair's work demands one's full attention.
Why is that guy wearing a Friday the 13th hockey mask? What's with the Puck-from-A-Misummer-Nght's-Dream headwear going on in this otherwise sweet image of two lovers kissing? Why are the Gulliver's Travels people jumping into that woman's underwear? Generally speaking, I've found these initial surface questions to be followed up by a Why do I even care? but still, there's a confounding quality to Saintclair's work that could render one motionless, at a loss of what to make of such bizarre confluences. To be honest, that's when Saintclair's work began to truly make sense to me. For as paralyzing as her imagery might seem at first, it's that nebulous conception of the "erotic" that serves to anchor the viewer, to allow them to glance some semblance of the familiar and work from there. Or is it really that nebulous, the erotic? It is, after all, what turns us on, what excites us, be it in our genitals or in our mind. And while sex might often play a principle role, a work certainly does not have to contain sex to be erotic. Just scrolling on down below, some of Saintclair's most erotic work, for me at least, is in those moments either wholly removed (yet connected) or preceding sex itself. Be it in the way a young woman straddles her bike or a couple embrace, fully clothed, the fact that such images can arouse in the same way as top image, the woman's head thrown back in ecstasy while riding the face of a Parisian paramour, the mind can't help but start to
I've written before about the ability of a truly transcendent dance track--the kind proffered by Basic Channel and Newworldaquarium--to just appear fully formed and to simply exist for ten or fifteen minutes, allowing the listener to carve out a space within the looping sound and rhythms. They are functional pieces of music that can in turn take on lives fully removed from the club floor. I get a similar feeling taking in Saintclair's ever-expanding body of work. While pieces like the calendar series below have a distinctly serial quality to them, while also each happily existing on its own, her work often feels like the penultimate panel in a comic strip. We've already had two preceding panels of set-up that have brought us to the present moment yet we know something is yet to come, our brains falling over themselves to construct a plausible outcome. And then you have other images that seem wholly self-contained in the moment Saintclair has chosen to bring into our shared reality, that exist in that state of bliss or confusion or exhaustion from now to the end of time. Either way, she enables the viewer to crack open the space-time continuum, tear down the invisible wall separating viewer from viewed, and curl up inside her images, reveling in what is there while let our own minds and desires run wild, filling in the blank spaces or adorning the already lush tapestries.
Saintclair's work reminds us that while traditional hierarchies within art and sex continue to infiltrate even the most intimate of moments, it's within, inside our own imaginative potential, that true power exists. We need not be passive receptacles for the same old story or pornography that leaves nothing to the imagination. It's in the impossible, the too-great-too-comprehend that the real fun begins, that we start to grasp some notion of the infinite while gaining humility at our fundamental incapacity to do so. Viewing our sexuality as a continuum, Saintclair presents a wide array of sexual modes that stretch beyond the human to objects, animals, and fantastical creatures. While she's not the first to posit a metaphysical dimension to sexuality, she does so in the context of viewing fables as the result of actual human visions of angels and other fantastical beings. In the process her images at times can feel like self-contained, contemporary fables that make familiar the alien, the other by situating these unknown variables within that most human of rituals: eroticism.
There's also something to be said for an artist like Saintclair who can command an IG following of over 250K and only recently had to start censoring her images a bit; her polite request to "Please Do Not Report" seemingly going largely heeded. Yes, we live in a NSFW world but stumbling upon an account like Saintclair's re-injects a sense of danger mixed with wonder that is being largely sanitized from the internet. So grab a copy of Ink is My Blood, get caught up with the wild world of Apollonia Saintclair, and then dig into this meaty interview in which she discusses the infinite possibilities afforded by erotic art, the need to create art and the need to live, and how angels and other mysteries of the universe are territorialized by the field of the fable.
All images can be found on Apollonia's excellent Tumblr and are used with the permission of the artist.
Z: OK, let's start with the present moment which sees you having just released your first book of collected drawings, the excellently-titled Ink is My Blood. How many years of work does this book represent? Is it more of a snapshot at some of your favorite works or mean to be the first in a completist anthologization of your art?
AS: Ink Is My Blood is the first volume of a collection of my drawings. After the great success we have experienced with this one, we plan to go on as devised and to publish the second volume in fall 2017 and the third in spring 2018. Volume one covers the years 2012-2013; the following two, the years 2014-2016. My drawings had never been published in large format on paper and it was a bit a shame, because over the years they have become more complex and Instagram's square gives only a limited view into them. My idea was to select the drawings that really appeal to me, to combine them into interesting double pages and add some essays for insights on my work plus some fictional texts. It's not that I'm building my own cenotaph, it’s just a media change to allow different access to my work.
Z: I was hoping you could possibly provide a bit of an overview of what it means to create original, artistic erotica in 2017? You sell prints, greeting cards, t-shirts, iPhone cases, and much else--largely everyday items that are imprinted with your surrealistic erotica. Is there such a thing as "selling out" in 2017? Would you ever refer to yourself as an erotic artist?
AS: A work of art should enrich your daily life, regardless of where you meet it. For me, the back of a smart phone, a truck driver's cabin, or a museum space are all viable alternatives to making a true artistic experience. That's why people buy a shower curtain with one of my drawings or go to see the originals in a gallery. The art collectors that I really appreciate are those who do not put a work of art on a pedestal, but those who live their lives surrounded by the work of artists they love, regardless of their pecuniary value. You do not sell your soul if you do your best and receives an honorarium for it; that is as old as mankind: I am certain that the painters of Lascaux received mammot’s roasts in abundance for their works.... No, the moment when you sell your soul is when you stop creating what really matters to you. And that is why I will continue to do what really matters to me, trying to be decently paid for it.
I do not believe in labels, I believe in what I do. If some think it's art, so much the better. For me, the important thing is to draw, every day, and to have the impression of progressing. I love eroticism--honestly, who does not like it?--because it is an infinite field of discovery that allows me to tell very intimate and very contemporary things that touch a large audience. I have not chosen this way consciously. As in the fables, I took a step, then another, and all of a sudden I was in an enchanted and dark forest, where everything speaks to me and makes me want to share it. But who knows, maybe tomorrow I will draw trains or still life....
Z: Being an illustrator, do you feel that your work is presented and/or perceived in a way that is different from so-called fine art that draws more views IRL than it does clicks?
AS: The value of a work of art--and therefore of its author--has little to do with its artistic value. The price is made by those who control the distribution networks and who manage supply and demand. In the art market, it's probably a maximum of 200 people. But this aspect of art interests me very little. It is time that finally decides whether a work deserves the title of "fine art" or not. If I could possibly have a drawing of Leonardo, Beardsley, Finlay or Moebius, they would all be invaluable to me. Not because they are expensive, but because they make me cry of joy, because looking at them I have an intuition of what sublime is.
"The moment when you sell your soul is when
you stop creating what really matters to you."
Z: In your interview with Evelyn Wang for Dazed & Confused, you stated that your images are full-fledged (or self-contained) stories that "should not require a parasite narrative by their author." For all the twentieth century's talk about the death of the author, you seem to rather displace or decentralize the author from your work altogether; you're not killing authorship inasmuch as taking it off the table altogether. Do you think people respond to art differently when unable to consult history or Google the artist's backstory upon seeing a piece of their work? How/when does a narrative become a parasite?
AS: I am convinced that the narration around the artist changes the perception one has of his work. If I tell you that Leonardo da Vinci was gay or lost his mother as a child, it will probably matter for you, regardless of whether it has had a real influence on his work. I even can understand that some artists play with this supplementary dimension. A work of art is "produced" essentially in the brain of its audience, so everything has an influence on the perception that one has. If I personally chose the shadow however, it is neither for marketing reasons nor necessarily as an artistic discourse. These are rather intimate reasons: anonymity is a form of true artistic freedom that is important to me, because the person who creates the images is not the same person who lives her daily life and her relationships know.
Being no one to my audience allows me to be everyone as a creator. Taking a pencil in your hand is an alchemical process that turns you into another person. I know, it sounds a bit delusional, but it's reality. This other person is fluid, constantly changing and very fragile. It is like a powerful cloud which, however, the slightest breath can disperse. Moebius said: "Staying alive for an artist means to always be in an unknown part of himself, to be out of himself.“ Being famous creates a very large comfort zone that becomes very difficult to escape. You risk to be so happy in yourself that you don’t go out anymore--and then you die as an artist. This is why this person out of myself needs protection so that she can evolve freely, away from the stage lights, and move where she less expects to. It is also the meaning of "Ink is my Blood": this person exists only because she draws, because every line, every point she traces, gives more body to this other me.
Z: I wonder to what end you see magical realism playing in your work?
A: Let's face it: there is no continuum in reality as we know it. It is a product of our consciousness which, by definition, is discontinuous and operates at different levels. Magical realism takes account of these cracks in the fabric of the real and uses them to reveal ourselves to ourselves. I am convinced that before the Renaissance, our ancestors saw angels every day, as the presocratic pastors spoke with fauns, driads, and gods descended from Olympus. Each time our perception experienced a massive and irreversible shift these emanations of our incomprehension vis-a-vis the mysteries of the universe entered the field of the fable.
We are living in a similar era, where technology becomes so complex and pervasive that it seems to belong to the domain of the divine. And as if by chance, philosophers and prophets speak of Event Horizons and AI’s, with the same tone as millenarian preachers spoke of Judgment Day and Our Savior. Magical realism simply reminds us that through our own inconsistencies, through our intrinsic complexity, we produce our own blend of magic. There is this special moment of the day, entre chien et loup, the photographer's golden hour, where, in uncertain clarity, your eyes have trouble distinguishing things, and your brain takes over and creates its own images freely. This is what I call the inner eye, which allows you to see the inside of your mind. This is the moment of magic realism
"The person who creates the images is not the
same person who lives her daily life and her relationships."
Z: Frankly, after looking at your work for some time I noticed how similar the bodies were across such a varied body of imagery and it cause me to reflect on how unidimensional our standards of beauty remain in 2017. Is your work at all a comment on beauty standards or beauty itself? What do you think beauty is, as a concept, a feeling, etc.?
AS: I do not have a particular agenda on this; I am not particularly interested in the question of body standarts. It a very complex social issue. The physical body has always been the site of the struggles and transformations that animate the social body. I’m just trying to draw stories that stand up and well balanced images. If you look at some drawings carefully, you will find anatomical errors. Not for lack of application, but because they were needed graphically. Beauty is not a quantity or a standart, it’s when what you are experiencing strucks a sensible cord in your soul. Discovering beauty is partly questioning our perception habits and finding gold where everyone see dirt. When Baudelaire wrote "Une Charogne" he did exactly that: he found beauty and meaning in the contemplation of a rotting corpse. He created sense and intensity out of a piece of fascinating ugliness.
Z: You've spoken about how you believe that those in Antiquity or the Medieval ages truly saw the creatures and stories of "myths" due to the "ambivalent light" that surrounded those periods. Do you feel that that ambivalence has faded from contemporary society? How do you perceive more recent examples of the supernatural, such as the works of Aleister Crowley or southern Voodoo fitting within a contemporary world that views such ways of thinking as immature and unsound?
AS: To be honest, I know too little about Crowley or voodoo. What I know is that similar stories were told at different times, under different titles. It seems that they are somehow part of our hardware, because we are multiple: basically we are still animistic, simultaneously we believe obscurely in a pantheon of divine beings and, of course, we are deeply rooted in the monotheistic dualism. We are all that together, right now, not to speak of our reptilian brain, which continues its ticking on the backdrop of our consciousness. In times of great change, such as the one we are currently experiencing, all these facets rise to the surface, recombining under new appearances. This is not a sign of immaturity, but rather the expression of our disarray in the face of a probabilistic universe that does not care much about our hunger for meaning.
Z: Moving to a different topic, you've mentioned your admiration for women who explore "new ways of being a woman" and evade "traditional canons of femininity;" how do you feel your work is parting ways with the traditional conceptions of feminine beauty or perhaps redefining or recontextualizing them? How does using digital tools enable or empower you to a) do art as a living and b) give expression to your visual inspirations?
A: According to the classic canons men must "do" things and women must "be" beautiful. Women, on the other hand, play important roles in my stories, roles that are usually reserved to men in traditional narrative. This is not to say that men are useless, but rather to show that each of us before being a gender is an individual with a very real potential and the right to express it within the framework of society. It is not just a question of justice, but also a question of common sense: a society that deprives itself of 50% of its talent capital is a society that is bound to fail, sooner or later. For a whole series of reasons, women were cantoned for a very long time in the archetype Pietà/Whore. It is time for this to change, in the interest of all. And in order for this to change, we must first occupy the symbolic field, tell stories where women, whether heroine or villain, are the main narrative engine.
Digital tools are just very convenient: gone are the ink stains on your fingers, finished the time [of] having to start over a drawing almost done because your cat jumped out unexpectedly on your drawing table. Joking aside, there are several aspects that are really liberating with a drawing tablet. First of all you have all your workshop in the pocket and when a drawing is finished, you can publish it or print it in a few clicks. But above all, it allows a structurally different approach to drawing. You work with layers where you place the different components of the drawing separately. Then you can zoom in, allowing a level of detail unmatched without having to draw on a canevas big as large as a wall. Of course this also has its disadvantages: you have to be careful not to lose sight of the whole and especially find a way to reintroduce the small errors, the dirt that make a drawing realistic....
Z: I wanted to touch on your visual "code" that begins to reveal itself the more you create your drawings, in that a bodily curve can be sensual or shy and an inanimate surface can be frustrated or irritable. It almost sounds like you're injecting so much meaning into your visual world that your figurative drawings are able to support a rather sophisticated layer of abstraction. Do you feel like your work has a metaphysical dimension to it or does it remain rooted in the material, the real, the corporeal?
AS: Sometimes, it is a nothing that distinguishes a perfect hip line from a shapeless doodle. It's this code, that language I'm trying to learn. Again, I believe that true magic is in the mind of one who contemplates drawing. I am simply giving him or her the elements that will produce this reaction. If you look at the works of the masters you notice that there is a metadimension in the arrangement of the lines, which creates an underlying sway, perfectly coherent with the theme of the drawing. This is not a mechanical reproduction of reality, but rather an interpretation of reality through a very specific filter. This is the moment when the drawing speaks to you through the choreography of its lines on paper.
"My biggest achievement is when I succeed in making
you see a complete movie with a minimum of means."
Z: I had to revisit both the definition of "surreal" and the surrealist movement as spearheaded Andre Breton as that is probably the most-used word to describe your work after "erotic;" what surrealism sought to accomplish was injecting the fantastic into the mundane and diurnal, utilizing sharp juxtapositions to heighten an image's "surreal" qualities. And in much of your work, you succeed in transforming the seemingly banal into a charged site of desire. What is your art's relationship with surrealism and how do you feel surreal aligns or diverts from the fantastical or magical?
AS: I'm very very fond of the work of Man Ray. More than any other surrealist artist, he knew how to use desire as a means of transfiguring reality. Desire is by definition a projection, an invisible force that tends to bend our inner space-time. It is a powerful spring that makes us literally see otherwise. Like those gravitational lenses that deform the course of light. You only see what you really want to see. The banal is a projection surface; If you contemplate it long enough, you begin to see demons and wonders. There is therefore no contradiction between the surreal and the magic. I rather understand this as the same phenomenon observed from two different points of view: the magical approach in the traditional sense seeks external causes of a metaphysical nature, surrealism proposes internal causes of psychoanalytic order. These are two reverses of the same medal, as the dual nature of light, which is as much particle as wave....
Z: You've said you believe that the brain is the biggest erogenous zone (which, amen to that.) Part of what I enjoy so much about your drawings are that I can feel my brain stretching and falling over itself to try and decipher the "meaning" or rather the possible meanings latent within the image while also losing myself in that nanosecond that you manage to capture so effectively. How do you feel that your work turns on the brain, so to speak?
AS: I seek a balance between realism and abstraction; If a drawing is too realistic, the brain is lazy and does not actually work; If it is too abstract, the brain is lost in a labyrinth of "ifs". What I find fascinating at the moment I draw something, is that it is that a few traits or points are often enough for an image to take shape in my mind. We are so trained to recognize paterns, that we only need a minimum of information to start our inner cinema. My biggest achievement is when I succeed in making you see a complete movie with a minimum of means, it is when your mind spins by looking at some ink stains.... When I listen to a concerto of Mozart or the Doors, the real intoxication comes from the fact that I feel that it is I who is composing the piece I hear, as if my mind always anticipated the next note.
Z: Lastly, which other artist in the realm of erotica or illustration in general are you excited about currently?