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Artist Feature: Blending the natural and digital world with Vickie Vainionpää

Born in Waterloo, Ontario, now working out of Montreal, visual artist Vickie Vainionpää is weaving together painting and technology on her own terms. Creating naturally formulating shapes that curve and fold into each other much like our own cellular structures mimicking the relationship between human and material. One may see a disconnect from the machine and personal expression but for Vainionpää, it’s a fluid systematic process that has been her main focus in her work for some time now. 

"Something that nature could dream up, but that remains alien."

Vainionpää has always been interested in creating. As a kid, the lieu of going outside and playing never caught her eye as her intrigue would be inside with a sketchbook and a pen. Ultimately, that intrigue would develop into a passion she would pursue. “I guess the moment when I seriously got into painting was in university. Up until that point, the tools I was using were pretty basic acrylics, inks, and craft paints. But in the second year, I took an oil painting class and it was such a foreign medium to me. I didn’t understand how to control it in the same way that I had been working with water-based paints. It was exciting and  challenging, and still to this day I feel like I haven’t discovered all the intricacies of the medium.”

The process of her creations is layered. Using a 3D software, which she taught herself how to use and program, she generates random shapes and tubes each day at a random point formula which connects any given points in space and creates a line from that. Until numerous entire shapes are formed which overlay each other, Vainionpää then goes in and selects which random generated shape of her liking and paints them onto canvas. It is a process of trial and error. “I go back and forth between the canvas and computer a lot. In the beginning, I like to start digitally, and it takes me quite a while to settle on something I’d like to paint. I have an archive of hundreds and hundreds of renders on my hard drive. On any given day, I might feel like experimenting in 3D, learning a new part of the program, or I might feel like digging through the archive of forms and trying to make something out of them. I think I enjoy starting with 3D software because it’s the ultimate blank canvas -- there’s this virtual barren space with physical parameters that can be altered radically or subtly to produce different results every time. When I'm playing around on the computer, I am drawn to forms and textures that remind me of existing organic matter. Something that nature could dream up, but that remains alien.

"Lately, I’ve re-ignited an interest in psychedelic drugs and have been listening to Terrance McKenna and Alan Watts lectures."

After selecting her chosen composition is when she’ll switch to the physical painting process of her piece. A big challenge for her is creating a certain texture on the canvas whether by hand in pooling solvent or something more chance-based. “I think it’s important to maintain the quality of the painted surface, so I’m currently working that out in my approach. I use raw linen, which is also a conscious choice; it contrasts the very smooth gradations of light and shadow, which I feel lends to this balance of organic/inorganic. It also is my way to participate and acknowledge the rich history of oil on linen, and connect my work to the network of painters that came before me.

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Although her shapes may be generated at random by a program, the inspirational process of her pieces is found outside and within herself. Taking photographs of other artworks and the natural world, getting up close and personal with other pieces in real life, studying how other artists use paint in their own compositions. Her work is constantly changing and Vainionpää is constantly learning and trying to expand her knowledge not only on her craft but in a broader sense of her medium which she works in. 

I find a lot of inspiration by listening to lectures online, watching documentaries, having conversations with my friends… also digging through old sketchbooks to remind myself of what my interests were when I first started making art. That one is really helpful. Lately, I’ve re-ignited an interest in psychedelic drugs and have been listening to Terrance McKenna and Alan Watts lectures. I think my work has always carried a  sense of duality, but also harmony or oneness between themes like the Virtual /Biological, Micro/Macro,  Experience/Perception, etc. That’s a direct reflection of what’s inspiring to me— how can we connect  eastern and western thought, human and non-human…I’m super excited and inspired by the idea that  there’s a fundamental connection between our exponentially evolving technologies and our advancement as human beings, in a spiritual sense.”  

There is a worry about the line between the technical aspect and the free-flowing aspect and how far one could or should push that line to where it’s no longer a tool but an entire form of its own. But just as the bridge of technology and human life is becoming shorter and shorter, Vainionpää is keen but nervous a bit to see how far her work can go. But her message will always be the same and that is one of harmony between each shape in one piece each piece in her collection.

“It’s a natural flow, I’m always springboarding off of the last piece that I made. So if I recently completed something with a really complex texture or reflections, for example, I’ll switch it up and paint something more calming and minimal. There’s a balance of creative energy in that way. In terms of communicating  what I’m trying to say, I see the entire series as a whole, with each individual piece playing a part of that  larger project or message.”

"It also is my way to participate and acknowledge the rich history of oil on linen, and connect my work to the network of painters that came before me."

The future is looking bright for Vainionpää and you should keep your eye out. She is about to show two large pieces for Olga Korper Gallery in Toronto in a group show this October. As well as a residency at GlogauAIR in Berlin in April 2021. Which she’ll be at for three months to prepare work for her next solo show. As well as a duo show in Paris which is still in the works.

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Artist Feature: Come into the abstract with Amelie Hadouchi

Amelie Hadouchi is a Montreal-Canadian artist with a love for abstract and an obsession with film. At first glance, her work gives a subtle chaotic feeling; colors bleeding and bending into and along with one another; darks morphing and contrasting into bubbles that vibrate light. Yet, inside this color chaos, she instills a uniformity on the canvas — a structural hold within the piece. Each brush stroke dances with the other, luring the eye close and then into the soul. 

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Hadouchi was born in Montreal to parents who originally immigrated here from Algeria. Her father has been heavily involved in cinema as a scriptwriter, completing over 45 movie scripts with a new short on the way the two are currently working on together. Her immersion in creating and performing started at a very young age with film and theater being at the forefront — she has since never been without it.

“My upbringing was truly harmonious and open-minded. As immigrants, I saw my parents work extremely hard to give my brother and I a good life. It inspired me to be the way I am today, persistent, and determined. I was introduced to the arts at a very young age since my dad studied cinema when he first arrived in Montreal. I started working in the movie and modeling industry at the age of 5 years old. I did a lot of theatre, and I started taking painting classes at the age of 9 years old and never stopped.”

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Her involvement in cinema and performance had a lasting effect on her artistic process. Today, watching films when not working is how she passes her time. Going back to some of her favorites such as Inception, Les Intouchables, and Parasite to draw from them to help her with the conceptualization of new projects. Not just the aesthetics of them, the colors and set design, but how there’s complexity in each mixed with simplicity, and an overall humbling are all pieces she looks to for inspiration. She uses them as a portal of sorts to channel herself into another space, another time, another world. Before starting a new piece Hadouchi meditates in her own way, a more cinematic one.

“I often listen to Actors on Actors interviews since I'm really into cinema. Weirdly, listening to people talk about their craft really inspires me while I am creating. I'm always in a very relaxed state before hitting the canvas. It allows me to dig deeper and not be nervous about the outcome”

Travel has always been something that she incorporated into her life both in her work and out of the studio. Leaving the usual and taking a break, meeting new people, can spark a different view on life, a different look at a canvas or color. Getting away from her normal day to day and experiencing something different to find inspiration. Looking at photographs from past trips to relive memories and use those same emotions and color palettes she not only remembers but feels as well. Finding that unexplainable beauty in nature and relaying that onto her canvas.

“I am truly inspired by nature which is why I love traveling and connecting with natural landscapes. I am also inspired by emotions, by the people surrounding me. I’m grateful to be surrounded by positive and inspiring people. When I connect with them I have to rush to the canvas right away. People have a pretty crazy effect on my creativity. I work at home in Montreal but I also work in Laval just outside Montreal. I like going to Laval because, in just 25 minutes, I’m out of the city and in a beautiful forest so I often go for hikes there with my family. I get my dose of nature that way, I need it!”

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Amelia doesn’t have a television subscription and chooses not to watch the news too much or read the paper. Blocking out the outside world and all of its publicized tragedy is a way for her to find harmony in herself and spread that to others in any way she can. 

“For a very long time I would feel helpless and it would affect me a lot in negative ways. Now, I contribute in the ways I can and spread awareness when I believe it’s needed.”

An artist’s self-depreciation can be a tormenting trait that can either cause greatness or hurt themselves and their work. The battle between that is one of the biggest challenges for Amelia and one she is actively trying to correct. 

“I'm a perfectionist and I put a lot of pressure on myself. It goes so fast in my head. I do a show and I'm already thinking about my next move. What I learned this year is to appreciate every single step and take the time to do so.” 


Visit her website at

Follow her Instagram @ameliahadouchi

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Artist Feature: Alexandra Rubinstein

Photo Credit: Ida Tietgen

Russian born, New York-based artist Alexandra Rubinstein’s work makes you double take. Your thumb jerks back up as you scroll past it on Instagram, it’s intriguing, draws you in. To some it’s electrifying, others may find it offensive. But Rubinstein doesn’t care about that. She just wants to keep creating. Her work puts pressure on people; it challenges the status quo. It doesn’t matter to her whether you are a sensitive liberal or conservative republican. She creates work that has a message, broadens views, it puts one in an unfamiliar situation that forces recognition. But most importantly there’s humor in it. Rubinstein is a big believer in humor being one of the most important ways in which people connect. One can either see an uncomfortable image of John Hamm looking up at them starry-eyed and be disgusted or giggle at the pope smiling between a pair of legs seeing the play on power dynamics and societal sexual views. Either way, it’s hard not to smirk a bit. We love what Rubinstein’s doing and want her to keep it up. See for yourself below and if you aren't already following her, start to, @therubinstein.

Your work is very leveled, touches on a lot of things, some people may find it offensive, some find it empowering. Do you think about that when creating, pushing buttons and taking people to that uncomfortable place they may not like?

I’m in a bit of a bubble in New York and rarely think about my work pushing buttons. And in the context of art history and the art world, I don't think it’s offensive. That said, in work and personal life, I don’t like to adhere to expectations placed on me by society. So even within this liberal bubble, there is still discomfort around a woman creating work that plays around with power dynamics and sexuality through the objectification of men. Which is good, that is part of the problem I’m trying to address. We need to stop equating sexuality and beauty with women’s bodies, because that’s what’s perpetuating the societal pressure for us to look and behave a certain way, inevitably leading to oppression.

What drives you to keep creating? The people who view and buy your pieces want to be stimulated, but what keeps you stimulated creatively?

I feel most fulfilled and confident when I’m making work. The more I make, the more ideas I get, the more stimulated I am to create. More often than not, ideas organically pop into my head shaped by things I’m reading, seeing, going through, and they develop over time. I think visually, but language is a big part of my work as well. It’s most obvious in titles of the pieces. Reading tends to be one of the most stimulating past times for me. I’m a big fan of sociological books, autobiographies and personal essays — understanding people, how we operate and why.  


What are you working on lately?

The Dream Come True is the most known series that I’ve been working on since 2015. It seemed to resonate with people and I’m always exploring different ways I can connect it to our current climate and keep developing the idea further. So I have a couple of pieces for it in the works. Repetition is also a recurring theme in my work, I think it’s powerful in a similar way that scale is, and more so when you’re using a social media platform to distribute images. No one subject is too important, they function as a group.

Another series I’ve worked on recently is a collection of pieces centered around Jon Hamm as a distant muse. Drawing on his on-screen persona, I used his image to invoke a male idea and explore female fantasy and desire. One of the pieces I was particularly excited about - Hammered, was a 3 dimensional, interactive painting that pulls the sex scene from Bridesmaids between Jon Hamm and Kristen Wiig and displays it in a boardwalk cutout format. With Wiig’s character’s face removed, anyone can enter the scene and be entered, or “Hammered” by Hamm. The added partition mimics the movie screen, inviting an audience and spotlighting the staged union. This cutout format, originally known as a comic foreground, invites play and brings lightness to human sexuality. It dismisses the passive role traditionally assigned to women. Along with the Thirsty series, I’m interested in making more work that’s interactive and lends itself to video, creating a more immersive experience.


I know that you support and donate some of your profits to Planned Parenthood — why Planned Parenthood?

Planned Parenthood is the best-known organization that provides women with affordable reproductive care and with government pulling its funding, it has come to represent the attack on women’s bodies in the current political climate. I do donate specifically to the South Texas branch because it's one of the least funded. So I’m using it for its visibility, giving people an immediate idea of priorities and stance. That said, I’ve also used proceeds to donate to the Puerto Rico relief, and have other causes I donate to personally.


What do you want to say in your work, what do you want people to take away?

I want to challenge old notions of gender, power, and intimacy, and explore how culture shapes and perpetuates these stereotypes. To reframe the heterosexual female perspective as underrepresented, playful, assertive, and also visceral - drawing attention away from our appearance and onto men. I want people to enjoy looking at my work and be entertained by it. I want some pieces to make people laugh and I want them to resonate and hopefully broaden their perspective. I also want to highlight the biased reaction people may have to my work because of my gender.