ILENIA MADELAIRE

CH.89: If you were to categorize or describe the style of your artwork, what would it be and why?

IM: My artwork is figurative painting. The style ranges from a cartoonish rendition, to representational. I aim to create narratives of a non-sequitur, absurdist nature, that often infuses humor with horror, to create unsettling images. 

CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from? 

IM: I am really fascinated by moments when people’s expectations are at odds with how events actually pan out in reality. It is so funny and so revelatory about people and life, and any instance of that, whether it comes from my personal experiences, media, or watching others, really gets me going. I think this is at the core of my work. For aesthetic inspiration, I love looking at art by Alex Katz, Raymond Pettibon, Lisa Yuskavage, Shannon Cartier Lucy, Fairfield Porter, Robert Crumb, Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting, Sue Williams, Kerry James Marshall, and James Ensor, to name a few. I also love films by Martin Rejtman, Kelly Reichardt, Michelangelo Antonioni, Harmony Korine, Lucrecia Martel, John Waters, and Ruben Ostlund. Poetry and post-punk music as well. 

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new project/ piece of artwork?

IM: I start out with an imagined image, then I look for ways to translate that into a drawing. I make a lot of sketches, add or subtract until I make something that interests me, and try to figure out what it is, and want to communicate. I may look at photographs for reference if I need to, but try not to rely on that too heavily. 

CH.89: Is there anything in particular that you would want people to take from your artwork?

IM: Nothing other than I hope they liked it and weren’t bored.

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?

IM: I recently became a mom. I have a four month old baby, so my lifestyle has changed drastically. I am currently a full-time mom, and part-time artist. Nowadays I might make out 2-5 hours of studio time per week. Pre-mom lifestyle was work a part-time job, then studio. I was in my studio almost every day, about 4-7 hours per day. On days I wasn’t working I’d go on short trips, relax, do things I enjoyed or intellectually stimulated me. My husband and I are also in a band, so I focused on writing music, too. 

CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?

IM: I can’t speak for everyone, but for me it’s good to have both. Act on the impulse by putting it to paper, don’t hold back or judge anything yet, flesh out the ideas as much as possible in the early stages – write it out, sketch, doodle, start over, go back, then make more sketches, get acquainted with your ideas, critique and address the weak points, and finally, a plan develops naturally from that. Eventually it’s time to “go big” and execute the final outcome. I think of this as “working smarter, not harder”. This is something I learned to do much later in life. I used to paint more on impulse and realized I felt the work was out of my control and never could get the results I wanted. I wasted a lot of expensive materials and paint. This new way of working gave me more confidence because I got intimate with, and understood my ideas. 

CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far?

IM: You can’t bullshit people. They know when you are bullshitting them. 

CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?

IM: No, not at all. 

CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?

IM: The hardest thing for me about being an artist is getting out of my head and my studio and taking a risk to reach out to others for help in putting my work out into the world. 

CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?

IM: I love that it means making art, which means I have a place (my work) to go to where I don’t have to make any compromises. 

CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artist’s that inspire you in any way?

IM: No, but I will say most artists inspire me in some way, whether it’s work ethic, technical ability, original ideas, execution, lifestyle, career trajectories, etc. Every artist has something to offer.

CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?

IM: I think technology can help make artists and artworks more far-reaching and visible in ways that were not possible before. I don’t think it’s a substitute for seeing art in person, though.

CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?

IM: I don’t really know, but I’m going to say no. 

CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?

IM: I love being in new cities different from my own, but I dislike the monotony of traveling, in particular air travel. Airports bore me, and unless you take the scenic route in car travel, highways aren’t that fun. I have no experience with train or sea travel. I don’t have a favorite city, but I loved visiting Brazil. 

CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?

IM: Fleur Jaeggy

CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your artwork?

IM: I am working on a new series of paintings, about 8 works, and I hope to finish before next year comes. 

CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?

IM: Being honest.

CH.89: What’s the last song you listened to? 

IM: “Time” by Richard Hell and the Voidoids

CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your artwork?

IM: It’s evolving! 

CHECK OUT MORE ON: ILENIA MADELAIRE

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