In a world of image, we come across with an artist, leaving marks to the world within details. The word ‘avant-garde’ takes a new meaning within her work. She discovers a new idea of art while pulling us into the dark spaces of our mind as she creates a visual language through her imagination and re-invents the norm of beauty. She takes a known image and puts it into a fantasy world. And the result is striking and original! We meet with Gab Bois to explore her world of art and talk about what is interesting now.
Creating a lasting effect is one of my generation’s real challenges. We’re exposed to so much content every day.
How did your journey with art begin? How did you find your voice in it?
I had pictures hung up in my room for as far back as I can remember. One of them was a detail from the left side of Botticelli’s ‘Birth of Venus’ that was printed on a sheet of paper and taped to the wall. It figured Zephyr, one of the Greek gods of wind, and his nymph companion blowing the wind of spring. It wasn’t until years later that I saw the full image of the painting. For my whole childhood, that detail was a piece of its own, and I remember thinking that the flowers were coming out of Zephyr’s mouth, which you can see definitely isn’t the case when you look at the whole image. Anyways, it’s funny how I can still picture those details of the painting so clearly after all these years. I also remember a framed picture that we had close to the main door. It had different theatre masks on it, in all grey and red tones. That image is associated with the fear of them coming out of the frame to come scare me at night. Images have left strong impacts on me from a very young age. I don’t think I’ve completely found my voice yet. I have a lot of doubts and uncertainties when it comes to my work and where I want to go with it. It’s an ongoing process that can be uncomfortable a lot of the time but it’s also really interesting to watch it evolve. At first, I was getting directly inspired from other artists I admired. Seeing pieces that spoke so strongly to me made me want to start in the same direction. I think I needed that in order to develop something that’s more of my own.
What is a good image for you?
I love images that compel me to return to them over and over. I think that creating a lasting effect is one of my generation’s real challenges. We’re exposed to so much content every day that posting something that will make people stop scrolling or come back to has become increasingly rare. Now we’ve entered the whole clickbait era so I guess people, myself included, are becoming more and more desensitized to the content they see. This makes it harder to translate a feeling through an image on social media. So yeah, it’s always a great feeling when I see an image that touches me to the point that I’ll still think about it hours or days later and will want to share the experience with people around me.
What is the word obsession mean to you?
For me, obsession is closely linked to helplessness. In order to be obsessed with something, it has to hold a power over me that I can’t do anything about. I feel like it’s also connected to addiction which is a word that has very negative connotation to me. I give a lot of importance to finding and maintaining balance in my life and the meaning of obsession feels like a perfect example of imbalance, maybe that’s why it seems so negative.
It seems like your main object is human body parts and everything else revolves around it. What is the story behind it?
I think a lot of female artists use the body in its larger sense as a subject whether it’s in photography, painting, sculpture or performance art. Historically, the body has been associated so closely to women’s identity that the two concepts can get tangled, whether you’re aware of it or not.
It comes from so far back and we’re exposed to it from such a young age that it’s really hard to make sense of. There are many ways to navigate the comfort or discomfort of our bodies whether it’s with exercice, good food, surgery, anything. I know that for me, it all comes down to feeling like I have some sense of control over it, and using my own body on my terms for my art is something that feels really good. Sometimes a piece of work will feel very personal, other times very detached. Giving myself the opportunity to explore this subject without any expectations or timeline has done me a lot of good so far. It’s quite a luxury to have the space to do it and I am very grateful for it.
Was being involved with art on your agenda growing up?
Yes and no. Growing up I wanted to be an archeologist. As a teenager I wanted to work in mental health. In Quebec, the province does this thing where they replace the last year of high school with a 2-3 year specialized program called CÉGEP. I picked visual arts. I never really intended to pursue art related studies after that. In fact, I studied to be an elementary school teacher for a year and a half in university after I was done with the arts program. I really wasn’t sure about my choice of study but I was in the mindset of « a job’s a job » and I really do love working with children so it seemed like something I could actually enjoy. When my photography started doing well online, more opportunities came my way and it made me realize that maybe I didn’t have to settle. I don’t know if I’m going to be making art for the rest of my life. I know it’s a field that fascinates and motivates me, so I hope to find a place in it whether it’s as an artist or not.
What do you think about the importance of art in the world?
As a creator and consumer of art, it takes up both a lot of mental and physical space in my life. It has brought me fulfillment like nothing else has on both personal and professional levels. I think it’s got the potential to open unsuspected outlets of communication and can help process things that aren’t clear enough yet to put into words.
Historically, the body has been associated so closely to women’s identity that the two concepts can get tangled, whether you’re aware of it or not.
Compared to many years back where people had limitations to get recognition, now with the help of social media creatives can be seen and discovered. How does it feel to make your art freely and in your own terms?
I think in this situation social media can be both a blessing and a curse. Nowadays, people, artists or not, are susceptible to going viral and I think that talent only plays a secondary role in that phenomenon. A lot of it has to do with timing and luck. So taking that into consideration, it was hard for me not to develop an impostor syndrome related to my online success. It’s funny to me that you associate creative freedom to online recognition. For sure recognition has its perks, it can be very gratifying at first and a lot of opportunities can come from it. After the frenzy from the beginning, it can become a bit suffocating. I started to give more importance to what I thought my audience expected from me, and sometimes put aside the kind of work I wanted to put out. Social media feeds off of fast paced, fast consumable content so it’s easy to get caught in that wheel without realizing it. That’s why it’s important to check in with yourself from time to time to make sure you’re using the platform in a way that serves you rather than you serving the platform. So yeah, it definitely can be great but it also potentially comes with a lot of confusion in regards to finding the right balance between recognition and compensation, while not wanting to sell out. Also I can say that « my own terms » are constantly being redefined, and navigating the digital world is still something fairly new and scary to me. I hope to continue to find more clarity regarding it and my place in it.
What is in the future for Gab Bois?
Hopefully many things. Having a lot of projects in mind can be motivating but it also makes it harder to get organized and think straight. Right now I’m caught up in technical stuff like changing my website and maybe even launching a new online store so that takes up a lot of my mental space. In the near future I’d like to work with other artists and put more energy into finding opportunities for my work to be shown internationally. ost importantly, I’d like to start creating 3D pieces again. I’ve been missing sculpture so getting back into it is something that crosses my mind a lot.