Interview with contemporary surreal artist Alexandra Levasseur

Alexandra Levasseur's work portrays tormented female characters amidst landscapes that seems to be coming out of a dream. The central themes explored in her approach are love, fear, anguish and unrequited desire. She is interested in depicting both the solitude and the bipolarity of the existence of the human being, through the representation of memories. She questions the relationship between physical comfort and peace of mind, and how the environment around us can affect this state of mind. Then, the word “relationship” struck her as key. The search for the “relationship” between things is what interests her. In this context, with “Chaos is a dancer,” Levasseur questioned the idea of relationships as the basic element of all that exists and life itself.  She represented the planet earth as a single organism. Nothing is destroyed, everything is transformed.

Hello dear Alexandra, please, tell us how did you find the artist inside you? How long have you been doing art? Is art something that you always wanted to do?
I have an interest for painting, drawing and art in general since I was a child. I was most likely influenced by my grandmother who was an artist too and used to always have a painting in progress when I was visiting her.

What was / is your major influences? Other artists, books, movies, music or any other media....What inspires you to create your artworks?
I really love Matisse for the compositions and colors.  I also identify myself a lot with Maya Deren (filmmaker) for the mix of surrealism, strangeness and feminine powerful energy in her work. I also love Munch for the darkness and the strong expressiveness.

How does "a normal day of artist" in your life look like?
I usually wake up early and I'm headed to my studio (which is very close to my home) with my two dogs. I'm generally more proactive in the morning, but I spent all day there. I start by putting some music on and work on my pieces. If I'm not inspired I go outside, take a walk, open art books, listen to music, etc. 
What’s your background? Are you self-taught artist or did you study art? Do you think an art education is important or imperitive for anybody wishing to be an artist? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages that you have encountered throughout your career with/without the formal training of the Art Academy?
I've studied fine arts and graphic design in Costa Rica. Later I did a master in illustration in Barcelona. I've started a major in film animation 2 years ago, here in Montreal. I personally like to be challenged by the school structure. It forces you to produce a certain amount of work and try different techniques. It is a good way to explore if you know where your are going!

What fascinates you the most about surrealism? How would you describe your style? What themes do you pursue, what surrealism mean to you and what do you hope the viewer will take away from your art?
For me surrealism is a lot about idealizing one's vision and this is what I'm looking.

In my work, I usually portray characters amidst landscapes that seems to be coming out of a dream. I’m very interested in how the physical confort and the peace of mind (or lack thereof) are related, which leads me to create environments that are close to what I would consider a perfect place to be. Those environments are intimately linked to past memories of carelessness and well-being.


What do you love most about creating and being an artist? What does “being creative” mean to you?

Art serves me principally to understand the world we’re living in by representing my inner uncertainties, like a therapy. It is also a personal quest to reach the perfect aesthetic and technique, a quest for perpetual improvement. Nevertheless, as art makes us question our own vision of the world, I wish people can identify with my work and question the themes I explore: love, fear, anguish and desire in a personal way.

Can you describe your typical workflow when you’re working on your art? What are your tools of trade? What medium do you most often use and why?
I  like to start by cutting out some figures from magazines an create a kind a preliminary collage that is the starting point for my painting or drawing. I also use photographs I've taken along my trips, etc. My own work often gives me new ideas to continue developing a certain theme.

I really like the classic colored pencils on paper. Lately, I've been experimenting with thick oil painting on wood pannel, mixed with crayons.  When I do animated films I use digital color.
Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?


Tell us more about your workspace. What was the most funny or weird thing that happened to you in your studio? What is / was the most strange thing hidding in your studio?

I just moved into a larger space which I share with music producer Romeo Kardec and my two dogs. I have a couple of tables, large windows with a lot of sun, rugs on the floor, plenty of records, turntables and all the music studio. I have a space for painting and a space for animated film and a sofa... Nothing weird has happened to me yet!
What toughest challenges have you faced as an artist during your art career? What is the biggest lesson you have learned so far?

The last 2 years I was a full time student at animated films school, and had to prepare my solo shows at the same time than my final films for school. It was quite a challenge. I've learned that working under pressure is not always that good! I'd rather take my time now!
What’s the best and worst advice you ever received in your art career?

Best advice: don't lose your time with jobs you don't like. The worst would be the contrary!
What do you dislike about the art world? What is the hardest thing on being an artist? Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
Yes, being an artist means being alone most of the time. But Picasso said:  Without great solitude, no serious work is possible. I'd say that melancholia and solitude is often (to me) key to create. Although the concept of relation/relationship is one I’m exploring right now, the individuality of my characters seems to take over at each time, unconsciously. I tend to represent very personal and individual concerns and states of mind.


Where do you see yourself in the future? Professionally, what’s your goal?

I hope I will find a way to make my work evolve  and that I will succeed in developing a technique and a style that enriches furthermore the message I want to communicate. I would like to produce more animated films.
Do you have any tips or inspiring words for others? Maybe advice for beginning artists out there?

Listen to yourself and be authentic.
Your favorite art or life quote is ...

“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way... things I had no words for.” ― Georgia O'Keeffe

What are you doing when you’re not creating? What (other) hobbies do you have?

Cooking, watch films, play with my dogs....
Do you have an online portfolio or a blog where we can view your work?
Is there anything else you’d like to say? Is there any project you are working on right now or any ongoing event or exhibition you would like to share with our readers?
I'm actually working on the new pieces for my 2 solo shows to come: Mirus Gallery, San Francisco in March 2015 and Galerie Roccia, Montreal in June 2015. I'm also preparing the storyline of my next animated short film.

Thank you dear Alexandra, it was a honor to interview you, I wish you only the best for you and your art and already looking forward to see your new visions and works :)
By contributor Linda. September 2014. Find Oh, So Surreal on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google + or RSS.