In conversation: Stevie Dix
On the occasion of our debut collaboration Getting your Meds, 2022 with Stevie Dix, we spoke to the Belgian artist about her love for painting, the emotion in her work and why she's a pisces who loves the sun.
The artist in her Genk studio.
SSM: Where are you right now?
SD: I’m sitting in a hospital in a section where they customise orthopedic shoes. Haha. Here with my mum…
SSM: What’s the studio- task on your agenda today that you look forward to most?
SD: I am finishing a painting today. It’s at that stage where you know it’s only going to take a few more hours of work. Feels really good.
SSM: Has painting always been your chosen medium to work in?
SD: Yes. I went to an art high school where they taught a lot of printing, painting and sculpting techniques and it was really clear to me that painting felt right. I never seriously considered anything else.
SSM: Your paintings share a truly unique pictorial language. When did you first develop this expressionist style?
SD: When I was a child I was obsessed with Tove Jansson and with Quentin Blake. Drawing was a really important thing for me, more than the stories. Then growing up in an artistic household I developed a interest and understanding of contemporary art and when I started making paintings myself and working in oils, I was very enamoured by abstract work and a lot of the women behind the abex movement. That’s the way I wanted to express myself, and I rejected anything figurative for a while even though I feel I’m a drawer at heart. Naturally over time I became more comfortable with painting and with being honest when making work and figurative elements came back. I still love to surround myself with beautiful abstract pieces, but right now figurative work I feel like it’s where I’m at my most honest. For now...
SSM: With this being your first-ever Lithograph, what drew you to this particular printing process?
SD: It was the only print form I’d never tried before and it’s also the mother of all printing forms, isn’t it? I don’t know whether it’s true but I feel like it’s the big one. The serious one. And also being a painter I felt like it was going to be a great feeling that I could really paint onto the stone and I could make the image directly. I loved it, it felt very comfortable.
SSM: Where did the motif for this edition come from?
SD: It’s based on a painting from my most recent solo show in New York with the Journal Gallery. For that show I made a group of works that lived in a period of time and situation where I was at home a lot looking after my mother during winter. I’ve always used elements of fashion within my work and have before played with the idea of "dressing up" as a form of self expression within my work. Especially this idea of dressing up in a way that clashes with your environment. Like wearing platform glam era shoes and wrangler velvet bell bottoms in a small sleepy town where the urge to conform is very heavy. This painting was titled Getting your Meds and the title was meant to reflect the humour in that need to dress up to provoke or feel alive, especially within a mundane life. I painted it loosely based on a photograph of some trousers that were listed on ebay. Velvet wranglers, to be specific...
Getting your Meds, 2022
4-colour Lithograph on paper
SSM: Do you typically use reference images when you paint?
SD: I don’t at all.. really. I take some pictures of architecture sometimes that I look back at for reference when I paint streetscapes, cause Belgian modernism is a big source of inspiration in a particular series. And I sometimes take a quick photo to get a certain angle of the body right-ish.. I come across a photo sometimes and will save it to remind myself to reference elements, but this image was kind of the first time I’ve used a picture as the first starting point as opposed to having the idea first and then looking for source materials.
SSM: Is there an underlying theme that connects your work?
SD: I think there’s a sadness, a domestic sadness. And a lot of images that live within that world. I also like the Belgian description of surrealism, which I think centres around surrealist writing. It’s not as specific as when you search for the meaning in English. It is « to try and expose the inner truth by way of dreamlike imagery. » There’s elements that may not relate to each other and by compiling them you attempt to create a feeling and perception of reality that is present in the mind. They’ll be together in Plato’s world but not necessarily ours.
SSM: Past, present or future?
SD: Ooosh thinking of any of them freak me out. I’d say future but with a desperate need for optimism which becomes harder to be every year that the majority of people seem to not care and panic as much as I do. Can I choose being asleep?
SSM: What are your plans for the rest of the year?
SD: Try and pour myself onto and channel some of my negative energy into my upcoming show in Paris, and make some work I’m really proud of. And hopefully try and enjoy the summer... I’m a sad pisces that loves the sun.