Victoria Cantons is a conceptual visual artist currently working out of London, England. Cantons’s artistic work is varied and widely idiosyncratic and is presented in multiple mediums including painting, neon, poetry, text, performance, photographs and videos.
Cantons’s early years were spent working as an actor in theatre, where she acted in productions of Shakespeare (Much Ado About Nothing and Twelfth Night), Tennessee Williams (The Glass Menagerie), and Wilde (An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest). During the 1990s Cantons was also the lyricist and singer in the rock bands, Agent Orange and Squirm. This influence can be seen in her works, with the use of text written into the surface of paintings, and the language used to title works. Cantons feels that the combining of the pictorial and text are the best tool to allow her to explore the questions she has.
The work is autobiographical and confessional with political undercurrents. Cantons’s paintings have an idiosyncratic style that explores the intersection abstraction and figuration. She makes highly naturalistic figurative canvases that draw a lot of their content from photographic images, and also makes expressionistic canvases that incorporate abstractions, expressive drips, and gestural, calligraphic line-work into lyrical ruminations.
Cantons draws a lot of figurative content from an archive of found imagery and photographs she also takes herself, Cantons’s paintings reference images of reference images of family members, self portraits, flowers, and objects. Text comes from a wide variety of authors, including but not limited to Catullus, Cavafy, Eliot, Homer, Keats, Monahan, Ovid, Rilke, Rivkin, and Shakespeare as well as her own writing. Cantons sometimes incorporates ideas of femininity and gender in her work, drawing on her experiences as a gay and transgender woman and being raised in a multicultural and multi-religious home by European immigrant parents who had both experienced war in the countries they had come from. Her mother was from Madrid and Catholic, her father was French Algerian born to Russian Jewish and Basque parents.
Cantons isn’t afraid to tackle tough subject matter in her work. The majority of her pieces deal with issues of the individual’s freedom, how people shape their beliefs, and the notion of who the individual can be. Cantons says that art is a form of resistance, and that she paints from memory but also to remember or else to reinvent, within these boundaries the truth can be alternately distorted or clarified. Cantons folds a life’s worth of art obsessions into Ian idiosyncratic style. Throughout, she wears her artistic debts and influences on her sleeve and does not try to throw off the world she was born into, instead, she holds it as close as one can, the works are not “after…” but to. To. To. Each a love letter from one person to another.