The catalog of stolen moments that comprises Apollonia Saintclair’s exploration of erotica is at once shocking and intimate—and unmistakably beautiful.
Apollonia Saintclair is the pseudonym of a mysterious European illustrator whose sophisticated erotic illustrations first appeared online back in 2012. In the decade since, their work has been celebrated by the global glitterati— from French feminist rock stars to award-winning Irish and Swedish filmmakers. With influences as diverse as Japanese woodcuts and French comic books, the work is surprisingly focused and innately sensual. This is Apollonia’s first publication in America.
HUSTLER: The name Apollonia Saintclair, how did you come to choose it, and what is its significance?
APOLLONIA SAINTCLAIR: This name covers, tangentially, some personal references, like that of European comics. But what is a name if not a mask that one wears in society? A surface on which everyone can project their own fantasies. Tell me your name, and I will tell you who I think you are. A name, however, may also be an origin, a starting point. When I decided to publish my first drawings, it was a break from when I drew without specific ambition, beyond the pure automatism by which one scribbles aimlessly during a call that lasts too long. Taking on a name was a second birth. It allowed me to be another person, which in my opinion is the most difficult part of creation. If you don’t come out of yourself, if you don’t go to the other side of the mirror and contemplate the images you carry within you—as if they belonged to someone else, as if they were entirely alien to you—you can’t create anything new.
The mature composition in your work seems indicative of formal training. When did you start drawing?
I have never been trained in any art school. This does not mean that I was not interested or that I never rubbed shoulders with the art world. On the contrary, I have greedily absorbed tons of images from a very young age, from the most trivial to the most elaborate, from the pages of fashion magazines to the caverns of museums. That’s how I really learned to compose an image, as a mental exercise.
What was the impetus for making your work public?