If you don’t know of Canadian artist, Sarah Joncas, then you really should take a moment and check out her artwork. I found her work while looking at Think Space gallery’s website; they have so many standout artists and we, at chaoticutopian have done an interview with another contributor already. Seeing Sarah’s work was outstanding: it's dark and sad, yet two of the most amazing art forms, surrealism and realism, collide to make some of the most deeply beautiful work. When you look at her characters it’s almost impossible not to feel their judging gaze; they are sad, beautiful and strong, and it’s as if you can’t hide your true feelings from them.
1. Where are you from?
I currently live and work in Toronto, but was raised in Hamilton and Niagara Falls, Ontario.
2. How did you first get interested in Art?
Always was, to be honest. I had been telling my mom at the age of 5 I wanted to be an artist one day, so I guess I just had a natural inclination towards it. Ironically, I've found a lot of artists to have had a similar experiences with knowing their talents at an early age. I don't think it's so much a 'gift' as people like to coin, but we're visual learners and develop a passion for creative activities early on.
3. What were the first things you started drawing seriously?
Dinosaurs and lizards. It's pretty much all I drew up until The Lion King came out when I was 8yrs old... Then I drew a lot of Simba. It was pretty serious.
4. What unique challenges do Canadian artists face that American or International artists might not?
I'm not sure if our struggles are unique? My struggle as an artist in Canada has been actually getting exposure in Canada though. I've found a lot of galleries happy to show my work in the States, but the market here in Canada doesn't recognize the type of work I make as readily. To be honest, over the years I've stopped trying or caring about the market here though. Even when I do have a show in Canada 90% of my sales are still by US collectors.
5. How would you describe your style?
Portraits of women (and sometimes men) that border between a realistic and surrealistic approach, often portraying a more sinister or melancholy world. That's not to say all of my work is dark in nature, but I prefer it.
6. Who have been your biggest influences on your style?
Who? I wouldn't say it was one person in particular, but many people and things over different periods of my life. My style has changed quite a lot since I first started as well. When I was a teen, I loved Joe Sorren's work and was heavily inspired by him. Nowadays I'm more inspired by film and cinematography, and music. Film scores especially. Radiohead has always been a big influence on me too, and continues to be.
7. Sleeping Beauty is the first piece I saw of yours that I just fell in love with. What was the creative process of that piece coming to be?
That painting is very old to me now. From 2011, it was only 5yrs ago, but it feels far removed from where I am now. Sleeping Beauty was more about getting out some negative energy and stress I was harbouring at the time. It's obviously not a happy painting and the subject matter is sensitive. I was trying to be cheeky and sarcastic by titling her after the fairytale... Anyway, I rarely look back at that period of my work anymore.
8. If you had a time machine what would you do? and why?
I'd probably destroy it, haha. Time travel seems like a far too complicated and fragile thing to mess with! At least as far as sci-fi has foretold. And I don't think the human race should ever have access to such a power. We'd never be ready or deserving, we're too selfish. It would be corrupted without a doubt... And maybe as a concept is simply corrupt.
9. Do you work on one piece at a time or do you have many on the go at the same time?
Many on the go, usually around 7 pieces or more. Since I work in oil, I can paint up one each day and then return to it the next week once the paint has dried. Build everything in layers over months.
10. How many unfinished pieces do you think you have?
Not many. If I'm struggling to get a painting right, I may put it aside and return to it months later, but if they go long without improvement, I don't usually give it more than a year of stewing before I decide to either destroy or paint over them. At the moment, I don't have any in my studio.
11. Why did you got to Art School? What advantages have you found it's given you? Any drawbacks?
It was the next natural step for me. I always knew I wanted to study art after high school, I worked and saved all my money from the time I was 15 just for that purpose. Art was never a much focused or celebrated subject in school and the budget was always being cut or diverted to aid other programs. I looked to art college as the place I'd finally get professional training and knowledge. I think the greatest benefit to it was actually moving away from home and developing as an independent adult though. I didn't get any of the technical training I thought I'd get at school, it was far more academically focused. But I found my future home in Toronto. I came from a city that didn't even have an art store to the biggest metropolitan hub in Canada; it was exciting and impactful.
12. If you weren't an artist what would you be doing? and why?
It's hard to say, but I feel like I may have gone into something like zoology or marine biology. I also find forensics fascinating, but I don't think I'd have the stomach or emotional strength for it. Or maybe I would have loved to play the violin or the cello... For a brief period as a kid, I thought I wanted to be a palaeontologist. A lot of various things I was interested in, just never had a passion for them like I did for painting.
13. Oreo or Fudgee-O cookies?
Yuck, niether! haha. I don't think I've eaten either one of those since I was 10, but if you made me choose I'd reluctantly take the fudgee-o. I don't like cookies and cream.
Great answers, and I hope this gave you, dear readers, some great insight into another amazing Canadian artist. All of Sarah Joncas's social media sites and websites are below, so give her a follow and check out her available pieces (if there are any left) at Think Space.