Artist Spotlight: Christopher Sousa

More like still lifes than figure studies, Sousa's lads have an Edwardian tilt to their top hats.



Untitled, 2013

The first show of paintings I ever did was a few years ago. It was a series inspired by the photographer E.J. Bellocq, who photographed New Orleans prostitutes in the early part of the 20th century. His subject were often posed in corsets and stockings, somber-looking "fallen women" in elaborate undergarments with their Gibson girl hairdos. My idea was to depict a fictional series of male portraits as a sort of counterpoint, so I began collecting vintage men's garments such as top hats and bowlers, suspenders, union suits, etc., and using them as props. I continue to use these same props, but lately I've also begun inserting seemingly random (but significant to me) objects into the compositions and setting up scenarios inspired by books, photos, or movies that have affected me at some point in my life, visual elements and events that made an impact on me. I recently did a painting inspired by the final scene in the movie Bonnie and Clyde and another based on the Black Dahlia murder case. Despite these rather dark themes, I try to maintain a whimsical quality in my paintings. I want them to feel a bit curious, but not macabre. And of course, there's always a beautiful subject to distract the viewer from any unpleasantness.