This November we are delighted to showcase the raw and emotional work of Toronto-based artist Nicolas Canon. Nicolas is a very interesting man. He’s not only an artist but also a writer and relationship coach, which definitely influences his work. His paintings are all about our deepest and most fundamental human desires.
What I love about his work is that it’s so different from traditional paintings because he extends the painting beyond the canvas. When he hangs his work he continues the painting on the wall surrounding it so that the installation space becomes a part of the work as well.
I had the chance to sit down and learn all about his artistic inspirations, here what I learned…
My Interview with Nicolas
Tell me about yourself, where are you from, how old are you, do you have any pets and what are your hobbies?
Well, I was born in Bogota, Colombia. I moved to Toronto 8 years ago to learn English, but I fell in love with the city and ended up staying. I’m 25 years old, no pets, and my favourite hobby is traveling. I’ve been to over 16 cities in 11 countries this year along. I love learning new things and discovering new cultures but above all, I’m a big fan of connecting with people. Not chit-chatting, connecting.
Can you tell me about how you first came to visual art. Did you study formally anywhere?
When I was 3 years old I came home from school with a drawing the teacher made me do. It was a poorly sketched heart, a tree and a house. It was average at best, but my parent’s reaction was extraordinary. Instead of putting the painting aside or on the fridge my parents told me what a great artist I was. They went on and on about how talented they thought I was, how great my skills were, and how much potential I had. Then proceeded to frame the little drawing in a big beautiful wooden frame and hang it in one of the main walls in our home. What can I say? I trusted them and I believed them when they told me I was talented, so I kept at it and I loved the recognition and praise art brought me.
When I moved to Toronto I intended to study animation arts but decided to go for International Business instead. There was something about being told what to draw and what to paint that did not sit well with me, so I abandoned any artistic endeavour for almost 3 years. Eventually I found myself on a student exchange in Amsterdam, where thanks to the time and energy of the place, I reconnected to painting. I started exploring for the first time with spray paint, watercolours, oils and so on. I have taught myself everything I know about painting ever since.
Why did you choose painting as your medium?
My medium is connection. My bridges of expression are art, written and outspoken words. The message I want to communicate is something to be felt and experienced, not overanalyzed. Art creates a space for self reflection and allows the spectator to feel and connect to certain sensations and emotions that they might otherwise judge in a different context.
Is art your full time gig?
Yes it is now, but it hasn’t always been. I managed to make art my full time work by staying committed. I dedicated all of my free time to improving my craft while also working to support myself. Regardless of what I had to do to pay the bills, I’d always follow my artistic curiosity and make time to paint. I would come home after a 15 hour workday and sketch out anything I could for 15 minutes before going to bed. It is only in these past two years that I’ve started to reap the fruits of that dedication, and I intend never to let that go. I’m also so grateful to my parents, again, for supporting me along the way. It made things so much easier knowing they were behind me.
Are you in any particular phase right now? What’s inspiring you right now?
I’m not sure if it’s a phase, but right now I’m exploring sensuality and femininity. Working as a relationship coach for men in the past two years has transformed the way in which I view the dynamic between men and women. My aim is to consistently remove layer after layer of inhibition, judgement and fears. To be able to express raw, unfiltered emotions. Both in my love life and art work.
When two people get into a fight, everyone is quick to pull out their phones, cheer and record the whole violent act. However, when two people are passionately kissing each other, showing affection in a public space, people are disgusted and repelled. How sad is that? We hide to make love but proclaim war openly. I want to change that.
I want my art to allow people to be comfortable feeling lust, desire, passion, excitement. To embrace all those hot emotions of surrender and power that come in the encounter between men and women. To feel free to explore those sensations that feel good, without any shame, guilt or fear of external judgement. To indulge in sensuality, because I think it is something beautiful. Something to be proud of.
So I translate my personal life experiences and share them on the canvas. My ultimate attempt is to have people see the world in the way I see it, and notice that it is much more freeing, relaxing, exciting, beautiful and enjoyable than what we have been taught to believe.
What is your favorite piece of work on display at Studio67 right now?
I like “Vicissitudes” for two reasons. It’s the biggest piece I have painted to date and it represents something very personal to me. The word means ‘alternation between opposite or contrasting things.’ While making this piece I had some of the highest, most exciting and pleasurable experiences in my life, but also some of the saddest, most heartbreaking and painful moments I have ever known. I decided to stay open to feeling every single emotion, good or bad, that came. The image of the woman surrendered is a reminder of this period, and a reminder that no matter what happens at the end of the day we get to choose whether we disconnect and numb ourselves, or whether we decide to experience the full range and contrast life has to offer. The tears, the joy, the smiles, the laughs, the pain, the confusion, the anger, the frustration, the peace, the hope. All of it.
Join us and meet the artist himself at the opening reception of Nicolas Canon this Thursday night, November 4rd, from 8pm - 11pm at Studio67.
I hope to see you there!