Artist Sandra Chevrier talks comic books, late night snacks and the dichotomy of her art
A Dance between Triumph and Defeat, Freedom and Captivity, the Poison and the Cure.
For the past several years, Montreal-based painter Sandra Chevrier has been meticulously duplicating popular comic book cells over the top of women’s faces — a visual representation, she says, of how society forces ladies to become superheroes after jailing them behind convention. Needing to break out. To show the villains who the boss is.
Her newest series is called “Cages” and again takes on her now-defining style of hyper-realistic portraits being torn between fantasy and reality. “We are merely human men and women,” her artist statement declares. “And we are entitled to our flaws and errors.”
Location: Bat Cave ... somewhere in Montreal.
Preferred Medium(s)? Acrylics, watercolors, pencil.
Favorite late night snack? Sour Patch Kids, dark chocolat or cherries.
If you had a superpower what would it be and why?
A selfish answer: I’m a big fan of Jean Grey and Eleven (Stranger Things); telekinetic and telepathic powers would make me very strong and undefiable.
A good answer: the Power to Heal so that no one’s ever sick, especially my son.
And on a practical level: I’ve been thinking lately that it would be cool to multiply myself and/or things. Like in Fantasia, but instead of brooms it would be paintbrushes painting on the same rhythm in my studio. Could do a lot more and would allow myself to create bigger projects.
What was your first experience in discovering superheroes and why do you think you were drawn to them specifically?
Before this series I knew nothing about the superheroes and there wasn’t as much on our screens at the time. I was working on the ‘Cages’ series, but at that time, the portraits were covered with heavy textures of paint. I thought it was interesting but wasn’t sure where it was going.
Meanwhile ... spending loads of time at the flea market, I had bought these comic books to cover one of my son’s drawers for his room but before I could, it broke. I was left with these comic books. I started to think about how it would look aesthetically to cover faces with them, but mostly the message that would be more powerful and stronger than ever. And so I did.
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Do you have a preference between Marvel and DC characters?
I’m definitely a bigger fan of Marvel’s universe, although I have a big crush on Batman. My work space is called the ‘Batman Studio.’ I’ve also used a lot of DC comics in my work because of aesthetics of them. I love how they’ve chosen colors to represent a character’s universe. In Superman, most are vibrant and primary colors: reds, yellows and blues. In Batman’s, the colors are darker and more mysterious: purples, blues and oranges. Really helps create a mood in an artwork.
What are some of your most memorable accomplishments as an artist?
I remember now almost a decade ago I was astonished to have my work shown in another country. Now my art has been exhibited internationally and I have been travelling the world with it — and it’s now part of amazing collections. Also last year, my work was covering 120 meters of the historical Olympic Stadium in Berlin . Every year there’s been amazing projects and things happening.
How long would you say a standard painting takes from start to finish?
For a medium size canvas; somewhere between 40-60 hours.
Are there ever times you wish you’d chosen a different career path?
Never. And if I hadn’t taken the risk to let go of my day to day job after my maternity leave, to go full time artist; I would be miserable. Thanks for my son who gave me the courage.
Which actor played the better Joker: Heath Ledger or Jared Leto?
Jack Nicholson. Theatrical and classic.
‘Beauty’ is a common theme in your works, what does the word mean to you?
Beauty depends on the eye of the viewer. My work is not about beauty though, my art is a dichotomy; a dance between power and fragility, freedom and captivity, the poison and the cure, the beautiful and the ugly.
What bands/musicians are you listening to when in the studio creating?
I have a turntable where I listen to old records of soul and Jazz music. Sam Cooke, Otis Reding, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Nat King Cole.
Are there any upcoming projects or releases you’d like our readers to know about?
I’m having a show this October with Mirus Gallery in Denver, Colorado. Next year in New York in June with Hashimoto Contemporary.