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Bonercandy69: Artist Nikki Pecasso on sexuality and the male gaze

This interview is part of the collaborators section in XConfessions

We have a new artist on XConfessions!

Introducing Nikki Pecasso
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At the forefront of the new generation of female artists using visual art as a means of activism is one Nikki Pecasso. After stumbling across her work on Instagram I knew that we had to have her fierce, filthy and fantastic work on the XConfessions site! A young woman based in Vancouver, Pecasso illustrates modern sexuality in women, using comedy and dark humor to create scenes that we are all familiar with. Her use of black and white lines in a cartoonish style make for powerful images that catch your eye and leave you even more curious. My favourite piece of hers is the one above: a self-portrait that holds so much power, strength and casual confidence. I love it! Keep reading for my interview with her and some brilliant insights into her work. And don’t forget to check out her profile on XConfessions.com to see which confessions have been illustrated with her work!
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Hi Nikki! You have such a fantastically unique style, what inspires you?
Thank you!  Well, I have always been creative and started drawing around the age of five.  My cast of characters were mostly female and had very feminine-like qualities.  Since then I have been inspired and influenced by a wide range of issues and experiences regarding women, dating and sexuality.  My illustrations are a mixture of my own experiences.   I create playful portraits, bouncing between real life, autobiographical experiences, fantasies and memories.  Most drawings are reflections of myself or people I know.  Others are archival images or inspirations I have discovered and collaged, or created from imagination.  I draw my body transposed into bodies of other characters.
Why illustrate women’s sexuality?
 I illustrate women’s sexuality as it something I have always struggled with.   I love being sexually free and as a result, I have been verbally harassed, slut-shamed, frowned upon and even assaulted.   I have felt ashamed and even embarrassed about who I am.  This shame I am feeling is reflected in my art, and through the act of drawing I am able to relinquish some of this shame.    People interpreted my openness as an invitation for their sexual desire rather for my own exploration or self-discovery.  I am NOT going to resort into oppressing my sexuality. I wanted to illustrate my own overt sexual interpretation of desire, love and sex. I enjoy drawing female characters, which open up and become real, sexually potent, explicit characters.  And when I mean open, I mean being free about what you wear, how you act, what you talk about and how you choose to live your life. Celebrate womanhood!  Celebrate sexuality for YOURSELF.
 
Why collaborate with XConfessions?

I have always been a fan of Erika Lust, her films and the way she approaches sex and sexuality.  I came across her cite while taking my “sexual Representation in Cinema” course at Concordia University.  Since then, I have explored her work and found Xconfessions which I was obsessed with.  This was everything I wanted to explore in art.  These true stories of emotions, fantasies, confessions were coming from human beings that I could relate too.  I thought her films were so beautiful.
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I love the “connect the dots” idea, what’s the story behind that?
When I was younger, I loved to draw and connect the dots.  I was into anything that puzzled me, and involved creativity.  Eventually, I built my own connect the dot games where I would draw a million little dots and connect them to my own imagined image.   I like the idea of having the illustration as some sort of tease or playful game, where I am not giving too much away.  I want to viewers to interact and use their imagination with they view my work.

It is said that your work is “playful and malicious”. Would you agree that it’s an angry response to modern society?

I’d like to say my work is more playful and meticulous rather than malicious.  I am not trying to say anything with anger.  I am just trying to express my own experiences with sexuality by illustrating sincere, honest, vulnerable and powerful portrayals of women.  I also want to encourage more sex positive art through a series of graphic and sexually-liberating illustrations.


How did you get involved with the “Hotter than July, Hands off my Cuntry” exhibition?
The amazing curator Savannah Spirit reached out to me via instagram.  Even though I was the only non-american involved in the exhibition, I immediately agreed.   I thought this exhibition  was very important and critical as it pushed political boundaries with a “non-violent” protest through “Sexploration”.  So far the show has received amazing press, ( Forbes Mag, Huffington Post, Dazed, Vice etc) and just travelled to Detroit for the “Dirty Show”.
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Why have exhibitions showing only female artists? 
The exhibition was to address women and their female reproduction rights, giving donated proceeds to planned parenthood.  Most of the artist involved were females, but there were a handful of very talented male artists.  Most female artist are overlooked, under appreciated or hidden by the shadows of their male contemporaries.  “Hands off my Cuntry” was an exceptional exhibition that gave women the right to have their voice be heard.

How do you think your illustrations depict the way women feel towards Trump right now?
I’m not too sure.  I wasn’t making art in response to Trump winning the election.  However, I feel like a lot of my work does connect with women whether they live in Canada, the US or the rest of the world.  My art impacts women as it can be identified with promoting conceptual pro-sex spaces, feminine and queer sexuality and embracing sex as a natural and pleasurable human desire.
Do you think it’s true that feminism in art is gaining momentum right now? And will it work?
Yes, but I  think it is a new “re imagined” form of feminism that getting huge right now in contemporary art.  This kind of feminism focuses on the prevalence of white male privilege in the contemporary art world.  Today feminist art celebrates womanhood in every possible way.   Similarly, I think LQBTQ in contemporary art is gaining momentum and getting the recognition it deserves.
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What’s in the future for your work?
So far its been a busy couple months for me.  Around Valentine’s Day I had a solo show in conjunction with a book launch entitled “Roses are Red, Boners are Hard.”  Currently I am curating an intimate group show at a contemporary gallery in Vancouver.  I have lots of projects in the horizon.   I want to develop a graphic novel and transform these drawings into sculptural pieces for installation in a gallery.
If you could describe yourself in one image, what would that be? (One image please)

This is definitely a hard one….Maybe “I just want to fit in”. It focuses on my own vulnerable attitude towards “fitting in”.  Not only physically, but emotionally and mentally.  I have been in those moments where I was considered “most desirable” or “considered intimate” by forcing myself to agree on some term of non consensual sex.  Not fitting in to a category I believe I belong in, even though I want to be free and sexually liberated.

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“I just want to fit in”
Another option would be….
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“Stairway to Drunk”
Did you ever find a good visual representation of an orgasm? If so, can you share it with us?

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“Do what you love and Fuck the Rest”
Nikki Pecasso’s work has illustrated several confessions so far:
Check them out, and more info about her and her work, on XConfessions!

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