Interview with artist Felix d'Eon
NYMBM: Tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, etc.
Felix d'Eon: I was born in Guadalajara, to a Mexican mother and a French father, and moved to California as a baby. I spent most of my life split between San Francisco and LA; I consider myself Chicano, or Mexican-American. I've been living in Mexico for the past 4, going on 5, years.
NYMBM: How long have you been making art? When did you first start?
Felix d'Eon: I have been working professionally as an artist for the last 10 years; that was the last time I had what might be considered a "normal" job. I have been an artist or desiring to be an artist my whole life, though. I decided at the age of 10 that nothing else interested me. I went to art school in San Francisco (the San Francisco Art Institute), and about 5 years out of college, started selling my work on eBay and Etsy and also started showing in galleries. That is all I have done since!
NYMBM: What inspired you to make these paintings/work with this subject matter?
Felix d'Eon: It started out as a bit of an accident. I was always interested in queer themes, but initially, I was making a lot of nude studies of my friends (gay male friends, mostly), and since I had so many, started selling them on ebay. They sold very well, which led to me quitting my job and focusing on this gay-themed work. But while initially they were just simple nudes, over time I expanded my query, and started to make work that I was more romantic, inclusive, and politically motivated; I wanted to make paintings that would cause us to reevaluate our shared queer heritage, and which would make the artistic language of love and romance more inclusive of our own experiences. Plus, while I am a white, Mexican-American, cis-gender male, I wanted to make work that would include other experiences (black, Asian, Muslim, lesbian, trans-gender, etc.), so that other groups could also find themselves reflected in my re-imagined histories.
NYMBM: Who are some artists that inspire you and your work?
Felix d'Eon: There are artists who inspire me aesthetically, and artists who inspire me conceptually. Conceptually, Kara Walker's revisionist histories which place the black experience at the center were a huge influence on my work, as well as Lisa Yuskavage and John Currin, both of whom found ways to revitalize traditional technique and use it to critique contemporary societal norms. Aesthetically, there are numerous artists in different styles who have inspired me in my re-tellings of history; Barbier, Arthur Rackham, Hokusai, Caldecott, and Walter Crane, would be a few examples.
NYMBM: Tell us about the process of making these paintings, from conception to finished product.
Felix d'Eon: Humor is a big part of my work; ideas just strike me at random moments, and if I am left giggling helplessly it is an idea that clearly needs to exist. Once the idea is clear in my mind, I have models come to the studio to act it out in the nude (as well as numerous variants on the same theme). I print the photo and trace it (I could draw it, free-hand, but that adds an unnecessary difficulty to the process). I than research clothing and settings of the period in question, and invent the clothing on top of the model's nude bodies. I draw it in India ink with brush, and color it with prismacolor markers or watercolors. It is than scanned and ready to be put on my Etsy store to be sold!
NYMBM: What do you hope people get from your work?
Felix d'Eon: One of my favorite fan-letters was from a Mexican-American woman who had given one of my paintings to her gay brother as a birthday present; the painting was of a gay couple from the revolutionary period in Mexico, called "Revolutionary Love" (in Spanish.). She wrote that her brother was so moved upon receiving it that he started to cry! He told her that he had never seen a painting of a gay couple of color painted tenderly and in love; in his prior experience such images were always of white men or, worse, heterosexual couples. I love the idea that I make paintings in which one sees one's own hopes, experiences, and desires reflected, especially in such cases where the representation is not common. I love the idea of moving someone the way this woman's brother was moved. And I love the idea of re-presenting history so that the stories that have been ridiculed and erased, of queer love and desire, are returned to their place of respect and centrality.
NYMBM: Where do you see your work going in the future?
Felix d'Eon: I don't know! One of the wonderful things about being an artist is the open road ahead of me, in which the paths I can follow branch to all points on the horizon. There is no destination I seek in particular. Whatever path leads me to the most personal fulfillment, and whichever one brings others along with me to an experience of growth and understanding, is the path, I hope, to follow.