A Conversation With: Siemon Leon

aka @eur.otrash (he/him)

Interviewed by Honey from Blue Star


Read more in depth below! Continue where the video left off...

Hey Siemon, our first question would be: can you introduce yourself to us?

I mean, I could, but I always find that hard, because I’m someone who really knows who he is, but then also not really. Because it’s always flowing. But I’m from Belgium, I’ve lived here for 3 years. I was already an artist, or at least I already made drawings before, but then in Berlin I got very inspired, at first by the club scene… (first take)
I am always evolving, especially when it comes to my art, so it’s hard for me to pinpoint it. Like “I’m this kind of artist” or “this is who I am or what I do”. But in general, I’m from Belgium, I’ve lived here 3 years now. I… My art… When I moved to Berlin, I became very inspired by the night scene and night life and gay parties. But then, now recently, for the past year, I’ve been moving away from that. Yeah.. (second take)

Okay thanks. Then the second question would be: most of your drawings and linocuts are of the masculine figure and often is a repeated pattern… So we wanted to ask what your inspiration was behind this?

It’s more than one inspiration. As I said, the gay nightlife… but then also how society portrays masculinities and how it’s like an empty shell. So that’s what this repetitiveness was from. But also I got very inspired by archaic art, Greek, Mesopotamian… Because they have this statuesque, not really moving. I mean, there’s movement in it, but it’s very like strong and calm and pleasant. And that’s something that still really inspires me now.

© Siemon Leon

What instigated recent changes in your art?

So, I think I’m having a bit of a… That’s also why I felt a disconnect with what I did before. Because a lot of my art and also in general had to do with doing drugs, partying, finding this very easy connections or sex, very fast. And that also reflected in my art a lot. And that’s what I was

saying, the past year… I have been… also because I have been

working on myself, or I had to… I go a lot more now to softer forms, more elements of nature. So I… The masculinity was always about some criticism of masculinity of course.

But now that doesn’t even interest me anymore to be that. And I get very inspired by just trees or the sky or… what I love is fire and the forms and all of this. And I think my focus is now a lot more on this and integrating it with my drawings or linocuts, where before it was more about party life and masculine forms also.

© Siemon Leon

Do you find yourself more drawn to feminine figures as well lately?

Yeah.. But I’ve always been drawn to feminine figures. When I was a child, I would always draw naked women or I would pretend to be like Jean-Paul Gaultier, like a fashion designer. But now when I draw a women, it’s usually the virgin Mary in general, because she is… I’m not.. I mean, I was raised catholic but I’m not practicing anymore. Actually I even left the Church recently. But this figure of the mother is something that came very strongly with me from my childhood, because my grandmother was super religious. And I really like how she… because literally like, it’s of course a stereotype, but she embodies what a woman is supposed to be. Like caring and strong and saving people basically. But it’s so interesting, because a lot of cultures that were colonized have taken their own goddesses, like mother earth goddesses, and they intertwined with the virgin Mary. And I think… A lot of queer people find… Maybe not support, but comfort in her as a figure. Cause also like, you see a lot of.. Even in tattoos, I have them myself, but there’s like a lot of catholic icons that people, or like the arts and the… symbolisms. Yeah so, it’s definitely the femininity that I’m drawn to. And I think also because it’s a huge part of myself…
There’s also a double side to the virgin Mary, right? It’s not only like the strong caring mother, but also Mary Magdalene, this whole figure that was left behind by the catholic church. Like FKA Twigs was doing this whole album about her.
But I mean, she was like the whole nemesis of the virgin Mary. Of course… I mean, this entire idea of being a virgin and that that’s something pure, is of course hugely problematic. So then, the other side is also interesting to explore, you’re right.

© Siemon Leon

Then, we wanted to ask: is there an unrealized project that you were really looking forward to, but that got cancelled because of Covid?

Yeah, I was actually… with Mon.. we were going to do a mural in Kake, right before the first lockdown I think. And if there is one thing, that I would really want to do, it’s like larger scale and bigger stuff, paint walls and stuff. So yeah, in general, that’s something I’d like to do.

What was the concept for this specific mural?

I forgot.. (laughs) No, I think it was about snakes, which is also something that I really love. But we basically got carte blanche to do with this wall what we wanted.

What are moments in your artistic career, that you’re particularly proud of? Or artworks?

I think the moment that I discovered linocut and then the results that I see from it, though I often actually prefer to draw. But the result from the linocuts is very strong… So my linocuts I’m usually the most proud of. Then, also being part of group shows here. I’m more someone who does something and then I see what the concept is, than the other way around. So, I do have ideas, and in periods of time I have recurring ideas. But when I push myself to make stuff bigger, or to tell more of a story, that’s also something that I’m proud of.

Were you able to do that with a particular exhibition here?

Yeah, last year with the Fake Art.

© Siemon Leon

How do you think the Covid pandemic has affected your creative process?

Euh.. It has affected my creative process a lot, because I became mentally blocked for a long time. And then I wouldn’t make any art or draw. I mean, it still goes up and down, but I feel a lot less inspired. Though my inspirations have changed… So now I’m… Cause we live, everyone lives in a smaller world than they did before, so I do like get this visual ideas from things that I see around me. And while before it was more about concepts or… yeah the nightlife or inspiration from that. Or even doing drugs and drawing, is something that I don’t do anymore. Also something that I don’t really want to do anymore, cause I want to move away from the destructiveness of it. Not that I judge that, but for me it’s just not interesting anymore. I don’t really identify with it anymore. And then.. Yeah, I think, maybe like this, and It’s something that I actually did myself. But in general, this art that comes from the nightlife, I think it bores me a bit now. Of course, there can be great things coming out of it, but it’s not what inspires me anymore. So.. And that’s definitely because of Covid, because before I would never have even questioned this, or the lifestyle I was leading. So yeah, it made me rethink… I’m still rethinking, so I’m still very much looking at what kind of artist I want to be. Do I want to learn more technical stuff anyway, cause I’ve always shied away a bit from that.

Would you say you have like more inner influences than outer, like before? Is that the kind of change that happened?

Yeah, definitely, also. Yeah, I think so, but then also just… I focus a lot more now in general on nature and that’s something that before was not really part of my artistic process at all. And now it’s actually a very big part of it.

© Siemon Leon

Talking about nature, what is your favorite park in Berlin and why?

Well, we’re in Tempelhof and I actually really really love Tempelhof. It’s such a unique and special place. And it also reminds me of home, especially this spring, with the wind and then the clouds that are hanging low, and you can see this huge open meadow.

It feels very Belgian indeed. Then we also wanted to ask about one funny post, that is merging two photos together, of a Greek statue and basically your ass. So, have you thought about moving into mediums beside drawing and linocuts, like more collage, painting, multimedia…?

I think about that. But I mean, the thing is also, my process is very spontaneous. And I know, if I’m going to invest in software of something, that I’m just not going to do it. I would like to experiment more with other art forms also. Collages of my ass probably not, or maybe next year again.. (laughs)

Is there anything you would like to tell more? Or is there a question that we should have asked you?

For me, art has like a double side. It’s helping mentally and healing. But it can also be the opposite, it can get very in my mind in a frustrating way. And I think that also reflects on my creative process often, because then I just feel too blocked to do anything. Or whatever I do, I don’t really like it. So, I’m in general a lot… But also outside of art… I’m a pretty lazy person, but then I can be super productive and super focused for like an hour. Then I can really make stuff and really like it, but other days, I try all day and then it fails. That’s also why I never really call myself an artist, not because I think I’m not one, but because I think this label just doesn’t sit right with me. It does not really fit… I don’t want to define myself that way.

Thank you Siemon for this wonderful conversation! We have learned a lot about your inspiration and process. We look forward to seeing more of your work to come!

Don't forget to stay in touch with Siemon's work on his instagram account @eur.otrash

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