SOPHIE VALLANCE CANTOR
‘Honest To Myself’
Today’s artist feature is Sophie Vallance Cantor! @im_na_naina
In our feature, Sophie and I discuss childhood stories, inspirations, works she won’t part with, methods, artist essentials and more!
She says: “For me making work is about how I’m feeling at that moment, and how it’s interpreted is out of my hands. One of the most special responses I’ve felt is from the 2 year old son of a friend who has print outs of my paintings on his bedroom wall, he stares at them, strokes them and makes up stories about what he thinks is happening in them. To me, that’s the pure essence of human connection to art and I couldn’t really ask for more!”
Every artist has a story of how they became an artist. WHAT IS YOURS SOPHIE?
When I was a kid I was definitely obsessed with drawing and inventing scenarios and characters in the drawings that seemed half based on real life and half based on imagination, I think it was definitely how I understood how to express myself. Aged about 7 I vividly remember seeing ‘field’ by Anthony Gormley at the Tate and being stunned by it, to me at that age it felt like such a strong expression of life itself and it really stuck with me.
IT'S INCREDIBLY THE IMPACT OF ONE ARTIST, OR EXHIBITION. What 3 words would you use to describe your artwork?
Honest to myself.
Can you tell us a bit about your process, and how each of your artwork comes to be?
I think I have to be really excited, or connected to an idea to want to make it into a painting, I am in the practise of making a lot of small drawings or mono prints as a way to generate ideas, but sometimes this doesn’t work and I decide to take time away from making until I’m excited again. Starting points for works are often things that come up in conversation or as jokes in my real life, or sentences that I really connect to from something I’ve read or music I’ve listened to. Once I know there’s something I want to make a work about I can roughly sketch out compositions until I have a basic idea and I go straight to the canvas. The beautiful thing about painting is that it’s really decision making and it can change and stray far from what you’ve intended, there’s always an element of mystery and things that are not quite explainable and that’s why it’s become a fascination for me.
I SEE YOUR WORK OFTEN ON INSTAGRAM, AND KNOW A FEW COLLECTORS... Do you ever feel nervous about parting with your work? Do you see your work as autobiographical? As separate entities…?
There are a select few works that I refuse to part with, “King Botoño II” being one of them, and i’m fiercely protective over them. But most of the time even if I really like a work I’m happy to see it go to someone who it resonates with enough to buy it. My works are definitely autobiographical in some aspects, but life is ever changing and I think one of the most amazing things about life and art is that is always moving and part of that is letting go.
Who or what are your biggest influences, and how do you find them? How do these come out in your work?
I collect images all the time, on Instagram I categorise my saved items to refer back to, and I use source images as reference and inspiration all the time. My partner Douglas Cantor has been the biggest single influence on my life and has taught me so much. He is a constant reminder of the importance of being authentic to yourself when making work, and that has been so powerful for me.
What do you want your work to say? What memorable responses have you had to your work? And which artwork would you like people to remember you for?
For me making work is about how I’m feeling at that moment, and how it’s interpreted is out of my hands. One of the most special responses I’ve felt is from the 2 year old son of a friend who has print outs of my paintings on his bedroom wall, he stares at them, strokes them and makes up stories about what he thinks is happening in them. To me, that’s the pure essence of human connection to art and I couldn’t really ask for more!
What are your artist essentials? Where do you like to create the best?
I share my studio with Douglas, and it’s in our home. We’ve tried different set ups in the past but worked out that having the studio at home by far works best for both of us. We prioritise it when we flat hunt, with the ideal space being one big room for the studio and the rest doesn’t really matter haha! I think for me it’s about feeling 100% comfortable because making art is an incredibly vulnerable process, and to be honest I don’t like showing that in person to very many people.
What are you working on at the moment, AND WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
For me I tend to think of the practise as this never ending life long project, and I just focus on the next thing I want to make. One of the most fun projects I’ve been a part of was a self initiated exhibition Douglas and I created in Berlin, we transformed our entire apartment into a gallery space and put on a show, it really felt like we were creating our own little history for ourselves. My dream project would be some sort of self directed residency with Douglas, where we could go somewhere hot, (a Greek island, LA, the Arizona desert...!?) and just make paintings for 3 months.
What is your greatest indulgence in life?
That is actually the most difficult question you’ve asked! I would say needing some level of ‘safety’ in my life to keep my anxiety low. I probably don’t take as many risks as I could to move forward because if this, but I’m always trying to be aware of ways I can challenge myself and of course like everything, it’s a process!
I CAN RESONATE WITH THAT. THANK YOU FOR TELLING ME THAT. IT'S DEFINITELY A PROCESS.
SOPHIE, WHO IS YOUR Favourite historical female artist?
I’m sure you get this a lot, but I’ve been fascinated by Frida Kahlo since a young age, I think it’s her honesty and i find that hard to top.
AND WHO IS YOUR Favourite current practicing female artist?
I think I would pick Lexie Smith. She’s a baker-sculptor-artist mashup and her work is fascinating. What she does sort of just screams LIFE at me and that’s what I need to hear.
FINALLY, Who should She Curates interview next?
Ellie Pennick, artist and founder of GUTS gallery, she’s someone making waves and doing things differently in the gallery world!