Interview: Edie Beaucage


Edie Beaucage. Ziggy, Oil on canvas and ink on water color paper 48x48, 2021


1) Could you introduce yourself and where you come from? Where did you study art, and when did you decide that you would become an artist?


I was born and grew up in Quebec, and I now live in Los Angeles. I have a degree in film studies and an MFA from Otis. I was not destined to be a painter, but a series of events led me to believe that I could indeed become an artist. People were always very positive about my paintings, and it made me feel good about engaging slowly but surely over time on this path. I studied gestural painting at thirteen years old in Montreal with a Jesuit teacher that looked like a cross between a Jedi and a Kung Fu Master. He had a very long white beard and very long fingernails; his name was Frere Jerome. He taught me the power of a painted line through the lens of the Ab-ex movement. He would point with his long fingers at my brushstrokes, and he would say, "that is very nice; there is strength and sensitivity here," and that was the lesson for the day. Fast forward, years later, after getting a scholarship, I went to Florence, Italy, to learn classical drawing and painting techniques, and only then I decided to drop everything and move to Los Angeles to paint. After a few years, I did my MFA and engaged in critical discourse. I was very fortunate to get gallery representation at that point and started to have exhibitions right away.


Edie Beaucage, Model with sculptures 2020

2) Who are your favorite artists that influence your art and your style? What do you like about their style and their personality?

I have a ton of favorite artists from various periods. For me, painting is effectively associated with positive emotions and even the feeling of being "in love."


Speaking of pleasure and art, I saw American conceptualist art at the MAC in Montreal from four to fifteen years old. I visited it every season with my family, and I had no extensive explanations for what I saw in the museum. After our visit, we would discuss if we liked the artwork and what we thought about it in the car. It was straightforward, and most of the time, we agreed it was very creative and surprising work. I feel lucky to have had that easy relationship with art first. It was more about the experience and a chance to relate to the work as I pleased, a very free relationship that I still carry with me today.


Then the events in my life made it possible for me to experience ancient art experimentally. Speaking of love and art, as a student, I was introduced to Greek Art by my then Greek boyfriend Dimitris when I visited him in Athens after our graduation. Athenian vases, Cap Sounion's calamari, and ouzo were topped by Cycladic figures and Minoan murals in Santorini.

Years later, after taking a loan on my apartment and getting a scholarship, I studied painting in Florence for a year. I fell in love with Giotto's work, especially in Assisi and the Sienese Lorenzetti brothers fresco of The Allegory of Good And Bad Government, so meaningful again today.

Then again, I had the chance to visit Egypt on my honeymoon with Glen. Seeing Abu Simbel, the tombs of the Valley of the Kings, was epic.

I have a love story with VanGogh and crushed on Francis Bacon even though he is much darker. Munch, Lautrec, Gaugin, Matisse, Schiele, and Guston are influential to my work. These works touch me; it is not so much the style but the fact that it reaches into me. It is a type of direct communication. I don't need an explanation. Today I have a list of fifty artists I love and follow; thanks to IG; here are a few of them: Chantal Joffe, Karen Kilimnik, Ida Applebroog, Jonathan Meese, Guomundur Thoroddsen, Trevor Shimizu, Lin May Saeed, Sebastian Dacey, Elizabeth Kley, Bendix Harms, Jason Fox, Matthias Dornfeld, Chris Ofili, Thomas Houseago and Sanya Kantarovsky. They all have distinct personalities; they all develop a specific voice, and their work is very engaging and generous. I am always impressed by their ideas and how they approach painting. I wrote a short article about a few of them concerning Figurative Casualism. I would love to meet them all.


Edie Beaucage Ne Me Quitte Pas. Oil on Paper, 12 x 9, 2019

3) What are some central themes in your paintings and drawings? Why do you repeatedly draw people, and why did you choose abstract figuration as your primary vehicle of expression?


I think my work is similar to an enormous open-ended casting session. I create characters that could become actors in a play or a movie but instead, they land in a painting. There is no "theme" per se but rather a suite of relations between pictures. Wilfried Laforge at SVA recently introduced me to Warburghian Iconology, Jean Michel Durafour, and W.J.T Mitchell's studies of images. It is the closest and most excellent concept I can use to describe my thinking process. I can explain my exhibitions in terms of image juxtaposition and active metonymy. In other words, by juxtaposing my portraits and characters to one another, diverse meaning emerges. W.J.T. Mitchell is particularly influential to me since "He pleads for a post-linguistic, post-semiotic "iconic turn," emphasizing the role of "non-linguistic symbol systems." Instead of just pointing out the difference between the material (pictorial or artistic) images, "he pays attention to the dialectic relationship between material images and mental images.".

The addition of the mental image is central because it implies another layer of iconology. Would you agree that we all have many pictures in our minds that we can access anytime? Some are more significant than others, but what we remember counts so much in our relationships. A mental image is as important as a real image. I remember a self-portrait I saw at the library of VanGogh when I was fourteen, and I thought this man is honest with me about who he is. So basically, VanGogh is talking to me through time, from a painting he made one hundred years ago. My relationship to all the artwork I have seen in Greece, Egypt, Italy, or today brings me to wonder what the artist who made this work is saying to me now? I think about the painters in Egypt, and I imagine their days painting in a group and chatting. I remember the images, and I add the people. The subject of the painting, the author of the picture, the actual image, and the mental images I remember; find themselves in a dialectical conversation with history, artists, and memories. That is why I like to juxtapose images from diverse sources to catch and share these multiple layers of sedimentation.



Edie Beaucage, 1) Perfume and Mono Kini, Oil on Cancas 24 x 48 2020; 2) Note Book, 2020; 3) Archeologist,10 x 7, 2021Oil On Canvas,


4) Is there merit to something that is found in your work that you did not put in intentionally? What are the pros and cons of intentionality for an artist? Does intentionality play only with the knowns, or can it also engage thoughtfully with the unknowns? What kind of possibilities lies with utilizing both the knowns and the unknowns? How do a spontaneous and immediate approach and a subconscious thinking process combine to utilize both the knowns and the unknowns in your work?

My paintings seems spontaneous, but it is not so unexpected, considering the amount of work I do before engaging in a series. I can think about a subject for months before I paint it. I obsessively accumulate many images in my notebooks around a topic. Afterward, in the studio, it is momentarily translated into paint. I know what I want to paint, and then I let the images develop and let them flow. I discover my pictures as I paint them, and I love the surprise of this process.


Edie Beaucage, Landscape, Acrylic and Charcoal on Paper, 12 x8 2020


5) Does your art have a connection to Dadaism, Surrealism, or Abstract Expressionism in any way? What are the pros and cons of utilizing an artistic process that has immediacy and spontaneity? Does your creative process involve your subconscious, and if so which of id, ego, and superego do you think are involved, per Freudian psychoanalytic theory?


That is a great question; I actively try to get away from Abstract Expressionism even if I love these painters and feel I had interiorized their works when I studied gestural painting at thirteen years old. I think Phillip Guston provided us with a fresh way to engage in figurative painting. I enjoy working from that new starting point. I am also not interested in Freudian psychoanalytic theory concerning my work. However, I am most interested in the relation between philosophical concepts and art-making. I think that the critical approach introduced in all Master's programs is still fascinating and valid. I wish to expand it to include positive emotional values of pleasure and love that have been harder to address critically. I think we all need to be less cerebral in our approach to art-making and art appreciation. So many artists are pushing themselves to make very "clever" works, which is super exciting, but they forget to add the fifth element.


Edie Beaucage, Multivalence, Charcoal on paper, 24 x 18 2020



Edie Beaucage, Studio with Three Brothers, Charcoal and water color on paper, 22 X 30, 2018

6) What are your color concerns in your work? Why does color matter in your work? Does color convey an essential part of the subject's personality and emotional character, or is the color just a coincidental aspect of light and form?

Color plays an enormous role in my work and my life. Today I was at Blick buying paint, and the cashier told me, "Hey, you are dressed precisely in the same color palette of the paint you are buying," and I said: "Oh yes! You should see the piece I am working on! We match!" Colors and music are frequencies, and we are tuned in. Glen designed our house with fifty-four colors, and that made me very happy!



Edie Beaucage, Mesopotamia, Oil on Canvas, 60 x 46, 2012

7) How has your work evolved between those produced by your younger self and these by your current self? Do you find your older works inspiring your newer works? What kind of dialogues do you have with your works? Do you ever talk to yourself as a part of your creative process?


I continuously look at all my work, and I always converse with myself about it. It is an ongoing daily process.

8) What are the historical and cultural elements and influences that appear in your work? Do you try to incorporate those elements realistically, or do you apply a fantasy and idealization lens to this usage? If so, how and why?

Culturally my work is very Quebecois. French Canadian culture is a cross between the French and the American, and it is unique because of the mix of deep emotional life and humor derived from that cross-pollination. For a Quebecoise, it is usual and expected to say how you feel, what you think about, and each of your emotions are apparent to a fault. Our sense of humor is either due to British humor rubbing off on our society after the British invasion of 1763 or the result of American cultural osmosis. Maybe both. I think it explains how I resolve my figures to be both humorous and variegated in their depth of emotion.


Edie Beaucage An European With His Phone, Acrylic on paper, 48 x 36, 2019

9) What are the qualities of an artist that you prize the most as an artist? What are the qualities of your artwork that you deem the most important? What do you consider to be one of your most successful artworks?


The quality I like to see in an artwork is a sense of straightforwardness in the language that makes the piece. It is about frank brushwork, thoughtful and inventive ways to use paint, mix colors, and play with composition in a painting. I enjoy being engaged and intrigued at once. My most successful artwork is always the artwork I just made.



Edie Beaucage, Axl, Acrylic on Paper, 2018 copy

10) What are your goals and dreams for yourself as an artist? Where do you see yourself going in the next ten years?

We open on the Gobi desert; it is early morning; I paint in my portable studio while Glen is off-roading on his motorcycle over the ridge. We are in Bayan-Ovoo, Ömnögovi, and I am preparing to ship my paintings using a herd of Bactrian camels with Gaikhaltai Gaikhamshguud Express. One camel is going to LA, another to Berlin, the big one to London, and finally, the skimpy camel is going to New York. I wonder if he will make it? We ride on toward the north to see the Russian melting permafrost in Yakutsk, and we visit both the Permafrost Museum and Mammoth Museum before they cave in since the permafrost is melting away. Afterward, we will ride Au Pays Du Soleil Levant. Fin



Edie Beaucage, Moto in the Gobi, Ink on paper, 5 x 5 2019

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