Abigail St. Clair Thomas interviews artist Shaun El C. Leonardo about his
upcoming show, Champion of the World at Praxis International Art
How does your experience of physical and mental immersion change your conception of your male subjects?
It changes my point of view. Unlike other artists, I no longer can look at the subject from its surface. By becoming part of these worlds, I internalize the beliefs and rituals these men adhere to. It also brings me closer to the emotion, psychology, and pain associated with representing the hero, allowing me to critique the subject from the inside-out.
Have you come to understand conceptions of manhood as being more or less complex than you may have anticipated ? How or how not?
I believe the complexity is already known. What I believe has been narrowed is how multiple definitions of manhood can coexist or at least coincide with one another. How we project or manifest our personal conceptions of manhood is what has been simplified.
Does pain corrode greatness or does it help it grow ? Neither ?
Pain in my point of view is simply a consequence in attempt to gaining greatness. I use these words purposefully. Greatness bares proof all of the pain ambition has required. I use these words purposefully as well.
What is your most potent form of self reflection?
Why is the humanization of your subjects important ? Does success and / or public adoration suspend disbelief ? Does that influence your work ? How?
By drawing these hero-figures, I am looking at them in a reflexive manner—searching for my own worth. These champions represent much more than their greatness in the ring. They serve as a mirror to our own projections of desire, ambition, and failure. The magic we bestow upon these champions is the manner in which we create symbols imbued with our own wishes to be significant and invulnerable.
I have personally have felt the thrill of the crowd and understand how mass adoration can alter your sense of self.
I have also, however, felt the quiet moments when the performance has ended and I am left with my own thoughts and failures. Consequently, in the portraits I’ve created for this show, I hope to humanize these icons—to alleviate them from their stature and show how at the end of the day these champions are just men.
Shaun El C. Leonardo
Praxis International Art
Champion of the World
1/10/13 – 2/10/13
Opening Reception 6-8pm