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Interview with Emiliano Morales

By Daisy de Montjoye

“I am a U1 student doing a double major in Art History and Political Science. This is my first year in university, which means my previous studies were done here in Quebec, and so I went to Dawson College and got a DEC in Fine Arts. Since graduating from Fine Arts in May 2014 I have spent the majority of my time doing my own works and doing commissions for people. I would be really interested in being a part of this semesters gallery, and so I will be submitting two works; both are paintings and both are very nature oriented. One speaking about our relationship to nature, and the other a landscape.” 

I met with Emiliano Morales on Monday, a first year student at McGill, to talk about his life and art. 

 So let’s start off with you telling me a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how long have you been at McGill? 

 I’m originally from Mexico, but I moved here (to Canada) when I was 5, and have been living in Montreal ever since. This is my first semester at McGill, and I am doing a double major in Political Science and Art History. 

That’s a great combination! So you’ve declared your major already, were you in Cegep before? 

 Yes, I attended Dawson College where I studied Fine Art for two years. 

What range of media do you use? 

 Mainly painting. I use acrylic generally, and pour other types of paints and gels on top creating thick layers of paint. Sometimes dyes as well.

I saw photos of your work, it seems very textured indeed. So painting is your favourite medium? Do you like experimenting with others? 

Yeah painting is my favourite. I’ve done some sculptures as well, with wood or resin. I did a series of orbs using eggs, resin and dyes. The thing is I don’t have a studio space anymore, so it’s easier to stick to painting while working at home. 

What and who inspires you in your work? And what motivates you to continue doing it? 

My main influence in the last two years has been Michael Smith, he was my professor at Dawson. His work has shaped my practice a lot. I stuck through science in High School, but once that was over I knew I wanted to do more creative stuff. Art has always been very present in my life – my dad is an architect and my gran is an artist back in Mexico. I always wanted to be an artist, but now I’m mostly busy with school and swimming though so it’s kind of my only escape. 

What projects are you working on right now?

I just finished a drawing for a client actually. It’s similar to the charcoal drawing on my page. The client is a triathlete, so it’s a portrait of him mixed with his three sports. I saw the first drawing on your page, it’s great! 

So you really like more malleable mediums, ones where you can really get in with your hands to create more textured and tactile effects? 

 Yeah that’s it. 

How has your practice changed over time? You said your professor at Dawson was your main influence, how did his influence affect your style and artwork?

I think that my practice changed from being one where I was mostly doing things to discover my style to one where I discover paint. The latter allows me to be a lot more experimental and free, not limiting myself in any way. I think Michael Smith was a central part in this process, in the sense that he taught me not to be afraid of ruining my painting and just letting go.

Other than artistic influences, does anything else inspire you in your work? Maybe a culture, a style of music, a drug or drink, a specific mindset/mood you have to be in?

As for influences, drugs and alcohol are not an option since I do neither. Music, however, is a key part of my process; I am always listening to music when I work. As for a specific mindset, I think that challenges are what motivate me the most, if someone tells me that they don’t think I will be able to pull off a certain project when I pitch them the idea it fuels my ambition to try harder and make it happen. In my projects I am always looking for challenges and new things to try; doing the same thing too many times bores me.

What are the main themes that you like to tackle in your work? How do you come up with these themes? (Do you start with a brainstorming/experimental period before starting a painting, or do you find that the themes develop as you progress?)

When I paint, I often start off with a theme and then build a painting it- not the other way around. Themes are what generate the idea, and the hardest thing an artist can do is to be able to make their theme show through their work, without it turning into an advertisement. A reoccurring theme in my work is nature and humans and their relationship, but not necessarily what humans are doing to nature but more our psychology towards nature or how we perceive it.

Is there anything you dislike about your work? Have you encountered a challenge when you paint that you would like to overcome?

Painting is an extremely hard process, people take for granted the difficulty of this endeavour. No artist will ever tell you that their project felt good from the moment they started to the moment they ended it. It is extremely rare for me not to be frustrated at one point or another when I work on a project, but it is the overcoming of these “rough patches” that lead to good pieces of work. 

You mention you study Poli-Sci as well, do you think the political scientist within you has affected your art/ your view of the art world?

I believe it is too soon for me to be able to say whether or not my field of study at McGill will have any effect on my work. Being my first semester studying Political Science, I have not had a chance to see a difference in my work. And finally name some artists you would like to be compared to! I think that one day, in the future I would like to be compared to artists such as Anselm Kiefer who are known for their theme based-work, where their paintings and sculptures are stories ready to be unravelled and experienced. 

Thank you so much for meeting with me today, I look forward to seeing your work at The Fridge Door Gallery, and good luck with your busy schedule! 

Check out more of his work here!

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