Last Thursday I got a chance to meet Eric Santerre, a very sweet and humble man who is on the verge of exploding on the international art scene. Eric invited me to see his work, which is currently on display at the Apollo loft in the Old Port. While there, we chatted about his new book, life in the Montreal art scene and what the future holds.
Stephanie Laughlin: Has art always been a passion for you?
Eric Santerre: God yes, interest in art has absolutely been a family tradition. My mother has been an artist her whole life, my great-grandfather used to paint ads on the sides buildings in Montreal at the turn of the century…what can I say, art is in my blood.
SL: So how did you get started in the art scene?
ES: Well, like I said, art has always been an interest of mine, but for most of my life it was just a hobby. Then in 2007, a friend of mine gave me the kick in the ass that I needed to take it to the next level. That year, I had my first real exhibition at a gallery inVerdun; and what would you know, I sold seven paintings!
SL: Well that must have been great encouragement to turn pro…
ES: Of course, after that painting was no longer simply a hobby. I’ve been going full force ever since.
SL: Describe the evolution of your style.
ES: For the longest time I drew, never painted. But then slowly through acrylics I discovered that painting was where my true passion lay… I suppose you can say surrealism is my main “style” nowadays, although I hate to give any sort of classification to my paintings. When I first started, people where always telling me that my work had a Salvador Dali feeling to them but I at that time I didn’t even know who he was.
SL: You didn’t learn about Dali in art school?
ES: Actually I got rejected from art school. For me, being a self-taught artist who is constantly evolving and getting your work out there is way more important than any diploma.
SL: An art school reject that is now featured in the International Contemporary Masters Vol.5 collection? That must feel pretty good.
ES: It’s an unbelievable honour. When I sent my portfolio to the panel in California I had big hopes obviously, but it’s still pretty surreal to think of myself as part of this collection.
SL: I bet it has opened up some interesting doors for you.
ES: Yes actually, because of my inclusion in this book, the Red Dot Art Fair in Soho has offered me a spot in their exhibition in May. I’m very excited to go and represent Montreal.
SL: It boggles my mind that someone who has been selected as one of the greatest contemporary painters still has to work part time at a restaurant!
ES: (Smirks) It’s unfortunate that you have to get noticed in places like California or New York before you get any attention real attention in your own home town, but that’s the game right? And I’m ready to play.
SL: Anything else you’d like Forget the Box readers to know about you?
ES: Well I know this is gonna sound dorky, but I just wanted to make sure I got to thank my wife Caroline. She’s my best critic and I couldn’t do any of this without her.
Make sure you get down to Apollo to check out Eric’s work. If you find yourself in Soho this spring Eric’s work will be apart of the Red Dot Art Fair from the 3rd to 6th of May
Photo by Mathieu Labelle