The Collective /SHARE
On rendering the human form with his pencils and paints, Austrian artist Egon Shiele once said: “The picture must radiate light, the bodies have their own light which they consume to live: they burn, they are not lit from outside.” Anouk Colantoni’s illustrations hold this 'lit from within' quality. Her sketches brim with incandescent life – cheeky, irreverent and playfully provocative – they animate their canvas in such a way that you could forget you were looking at a still. Colantoni’s characters arrive daily, through friends, lovers, strangers, and her own wild and vivid imagination. What began as a humble ‘doodle-a-day’ for her own amusement has now grown into a rapidly expanding rollcall of commissions and collaborations, most recently including Stuart Weitzman shoes, The Stone Set and Leandra Medine of The Man Repeller. Colantoni chats to RUSSH about passion, mess, and a life under construction.
Can you remember the first moment you discovered your passion for drawing?
I would say it started from the moment I could grasp at my mother’s pens and pencils that I stole from her studio. I just took to the walls, any book or piece of paper I could find.
What do you love about creating visual narrative through illustration?
Freedom. Being able to pick up on the subtlety of my subjects – a simple gesture that is often over looked in other creative mediums I have worked with. There is an explosive energy in the freehand line. Emotions can be found in an unexpected choice of colour that when applied to a portrait changes what our eye sees to what is really being said in that situation.
You’ve been a fashion stylist and creative director for the last decade – what made you want to branch out and focus on your art at this time?
I see creativity as an endlessly evolving process. Having worked as a stylist, a writer, and creative director, I have been building personalised set of skills in story telling. Everyone and everything has a story to be told, and in the past I had felt limited by commercial constraints, so my art is a way to break away. I seek to touch on topics that I hadn’t been able to before in such depth, and share sneak peeks on my reality that is at once humorous, shocking, subtle and sexy – to be able to seduce the mind and eye simultaneously.
How would you describe your style of art?
I create visual commentaries through illustration, painting and writing. There is always a very strong sense of eroticism that flows through my work - dark, sexy and always a little shocking. I say the things that are not always pretty with an image that is fun and naughty.
What are you hoping to communicate through your work?
Human vulnerability – this is the underlying theme I am exploring right now. My images always have a sensitive humor to them, on any subject matter - politics, love, life and death, loss and our constantly changing selves. We are complex. We exist in the collision of two worlds today: a world of external stimuli that we all interpret as reality, and at the same time somewhere where your imagination, emotions and history give you another place to exist in pleasure and comfort. Nothing is clean and pretty - the mess is where all the passion is.
What turns you on creatively?
The people and places that surround me – smells, sounds - any combination of catalysts that draws out a human reaction. I am ravenous for new ideas – I read endlessly, watch film, meet as many new people as possible and I push to have adventures so that in solace I can to sit and scribble down the nuances of life that get missed when we move so quickly.
Who/what are your most significant creative inspirations?
New York City – it’s inhabitants, the mundane and morose that makes up the magnificence of living in this crazy town. It is the people on the subway, my friends in conversation and what ever is most topical in peoples lives that turn me on the most. Other artists that blow my mind and inspire me are Harry Holland, Tracey Emin, Egon Schiele, Quentin Blake, Henry Darger, Lisa Yuskavage, Balint Zsako, Michael Sowa, Brett Whiteley, Edward Gorey and the writing of Anaïs Nin.
You’ve collaborated with some notables like Stuart Weitzman, The Stone Set and Leandra Medine of The Man Repeller. Who would be your ultimate dream collaboration?
Do I have to pick one? To name my top collaboration dreams right now - Lalique crystal, Kiki de Montparnasse lingerie, Delvaux handbags, and to create a range of textiles.
What do you love and hate about living in NYC?
I love living in NYC and I also hate it! I am an Aussie girl at my core, I crave more calm, open spaces and the sea – but then again I am an addict of this city – it’s vivacity - it is alive - it draws in the worlds most creative, free thinking humans that combine to make every moment exciting and inspiring. There is something fun to do every second of the day – it doesn’t matter what interests you, it is here. It is bloody exhausting all this stimulation! I hate that the city tries to tire you out, but I love that it gives you everything you need if you just ask of it.
Finally, what’s next for Anouk Colantoni?
Everything! I’m a life under-construction – lots of projects on the go. My first illustrated commentary is going live on MilkMade.com – look out for it.