Interview: Alexandra Levasseur
Born in Mauricie (Québec) in 1982, Alexandra Levasseur earned a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and Graphic Design at the University of Costa Rica in 2006. She then moved to Barcelona and completed post-graduate studies in Illustration and Techniques of Visual Communications at the EINA School of Art and Design in 2008. Since her return to Montreal, she has spent the past few years focusing on her painting, creating animated films and furthering her studies at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, at Concordia University, in Montreal.
Levasseur’s work enjoys worldwide recognition. Invited to collaborate during the Fashion Week in Milan (2013) by Nick Knight of SHOWstudio, London, she created drawings of the most renowned fashion shows. For many years now, numerous magazines have devoted articles and publications to her work: Juxtapoz, Decover, 24 images, Hi Fructose, Ignant, Supersonic Art, Booooooom, and Exhibition-ism, among others. Her film Table d’hôte was programmed in at several international festivals (Netherlands, Greece, Ukraine, Brazil, France). Her works have been exhibited in prestigious museums and galleries: The Mirus Gallery, in San Francisco (2015 and 2013); The Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2014-2015); The Picasso Museum, Barcelona (2009); and The Barra de Ferro Space, Barcelona (2008).
On your website you say, “I prefer drawing to talking.” Do you feel you best communicate through your art?
I definitely communicate better through art since I consider myself to be an introverted person.
Describe the moment you first considered yourself to be an artist.
I’ve been drawing and painting since I was a child. I have never left doing it. Art school gave me space to explore styles and techniques, and a sense of career, but I think finding my artistic voice has been a long smooth process over the last 30 years. It came naturally, and it is still evolving.
You use a lot of different materials in your work including acrylic, graphite, and collage on wood. Tell us about your process and how you developed your specific style.
I get inspiration from scientific readings (biology and physics) and I do my own iconic interpretation of facts and theories, but also from films and poetry. I often start with a background. I build collages from photographs and textures that matter to me. I do the same with the figures. I look for positions of body that convey the message I want to express and I construct the composition. I used to do that step on paper with magazine paper cuts, but lately I’ve been using the computer to facilitate the process. Once I’m set on the composition and color palette, I start working on the larger support with acrylic, oil and pencils mostly.
Your work has a very distinct palette, composed of muted tones of soft pinks and blues. What inspires you when choosing such delicate colors?
Memories of the favorite moments and places of my life.
The women in your work appear melancholic and solemn. Tell us about the psychological tension present in your subjects.
The representation of women in my work serves me as a universal symbol to illustrate an array of human emotions. My work being in part autobiographical, the feminine figures in it naturally satisfy my need to express the anxiety and struggle to understand our short life on earth and find a real powerful meaning to it.
Does your environment influence the incredible, lush landscapes depicted in your paintings? What role does nature play in your body of work?
I grew up by a lake, in the woods. Art is for me a way to study Nature. Biology, physics, and astrophysics are an infinite source of inspiration. I find a lot of poetry in the contradictions of Nature; it is so complex and incredible. I find pleasure in the reinterpretation of certain theories. It's a rich starting point to intend, explain or understand the mystery of being.
What event in your life would you consider a turning point in your artistic practice?
After 10 years living abroad (2000-2010), in Costa Rica and Spain, I came back home (Canada). I had been working commercial illustration and design jobs for 3-4 years and realized it was not making me happy. I really started to explore personal ideas when I moved to Montreal. I found it deeply therapeutic to focus on the same project for a long time. Since then, it has been a kind of identity exploration. Eventually my work was exhibited in galleries in Montreal, the US and Europe.
If your artwork could talk, what would it say?
I’m a vision and an interpretation of the unknown. I’m a thought experiment.