In Conversation With the "Modern Cave Painter" Francois Dubeau
Francois Dubeau is an internationally acclaimed Canadian artist who focuses primarily on the female nude and cats. Many of his drawings are on permanent display at the Kinsey Research Institute in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction; his erotic art has been displayed in galleries around the world.
His drawings of the female form are classified, according to his webpage, under two rubrics: Erotic Art and Elegant Nude. And indeed his drawings are elegant, sensual, and the erotic art portraits show women in kink imagery and/or bdsm postures. Both types of nudes- the erotic and the elegant (sometimes in my view the drawing is both)- express a beautiful mischief, glee, or if you like impish playfulness.
The drawings are typically black and white, (although there are a handful in colour) and rendered in a minimalist style- a type of less is more eroticism- which suggests volumes of sumptuous erotic energy.
Dubeau’s nudes are vibrant; there is the thrill of the erotic curve, the elegant long leg. The drawings seem to have the ability to take self- conscious delight in their gestures and bodies. They wink with naughty concealment. Bellissima!
The following is an interview of the Canadian poet and erotic fiction writer Carmelo Militano with Francois Dubeau.
1) On your webpage you explain you are "striving for the elemental" in both your erotic and elegant nudes. Can you tell us what you mean by the elemental in art? Further, what drew you as an artist-pardon the pun- to the elemental?
What a great question! I get easily overwhelmed by overstimulation, so the simple black and white lines are a refuge for me. In my work, I try to capture the raw energy of the unrehearsed sketch. I try to remove what isn't absolutely essential, to simplify every element. Also, I like to keep it open, to not dictate to the viewer what to see in my art, so they can "fill in the blanks" with their own experience.
2) You also mention elsewhere that you reject the complexity and frenetic pace of 21st century modern life. How do you see your art as counterpoint to this feature of modern life?
When I first started creating art, I heard the old trope that "all in art has already been done and nothing new can be created". So I decided to start from scratch and go back to the roots of Humanity's experiment with art: the cave paintings. Simple lines that depict the Goddess of Fertility and the spoils of the hunt. That's what I make: modern cave paintings.
Modern life is insane! We live in a constant state of overstimulation; addiction specialist Dr. Anna Lembke describes it as living in a "Dopamine Nation". By stripping away all the flashing lights, loud music and bright colours, I hope that my work can bring a much needed pause. My work harkens to a simpler time when our main concerns were who to fuck and what to eat. No mortgages, investment strategies or world politics.
3) Your drawings are imbued with a playful spirit. How important is play to you as an erotic artist?
What's life without play? People take sex way too seriously! I understand all the fuss with ecstasy and eroticism, but is it really love making if there's no laughter? To me, play is central to my erotic art, and I always try to imbue some sort of whimsy in the artwork. If it's not fun, is it worth doing? Stop being so gosh darn serious!
4) How do you start a drawing? Is it say a memory, an image from another piece of art, or perhaps writing, or maybe just walking down the street and your artistic lightbulb goes off.
I usually start from a random line and see where it leads me. Very rarely do I use a model or have an idea in my head. It's all about the dynamics of the composition, really. I try to make my pieces work first and foremost as an abstract graphic composition.
5) How would you describe your aesthetic? is it something that developed over time or where you aware of your vision right from the beginning as a young artist? Who were some of your models and/or artists from whom your took inspiration?
I guess it developed over time. I have a hard time with complicated stuff. I've always liked things that are simple and elegant. One of my first artistic infatuations was Amadeo Modigliani, and his sketches and drawings were the gateway drug to my addiction to elemental artwork and sketches in particular. Other artists that influenced me are folks like Matisse, Mondrian, fashion illustrator René Gruau, madman illustrator Ralph Steadman, as well as a gaggle of French "bande dessinée" cartoonists from the '70s.
6) Do you see a difference between what some call sensual erotic art and pornographic art?
To quote the Supreme Court of the United States, "I know it when I see it"! In a way, everyone has their own definition of what is art and what is porn. To me, there has to be some sort of artistic intent. If it's just people fucking, with no added artistic intent, then it slides towards porn, and that's pretty damn uninteresting (especially nowadays where gigabytes of porn are just a keyword search away!). Make it interesting, for fuck's sake!
7) What is it about cats that wants you to draw them ?
Cats have no masters. They'll sit on your page whether you like it or not. I don't have cats anymore as I've become allergic, so the cats visit me through my pen. I'll be working on a drawing, and a cat just appears among the strokes. The cats, they just happen, and when they do I have to stop everything else and put them to paper. Only then will they let me work on my drawings. Pesky little buggers. They're cute, though!
Fig.21. Fire Demon (2018) by Francois Dubeau
You can discover more about Francois Dubeau's work on the artist's site.
Click HERE for our talk with the Italian artist Giuseppe Petrilli