BALLPOINT NINJA | BELGIUM
READ OUR INTERVIEW WITH POLLY BELOW
HOUSE OF THEODORA CHATS TO POLLY POLLET
POLLY is INDEED A BALLPOINT NINJA. USING JUST HER OBSERVANT EYE AND A PEN, SHE MANAGES TO CREATE MESMERISING ART THAT CHALLENGES OUR THOUGHTS, FEELINGS & IDEAS ABOUT SEXUALITY, morality and giving a f*ck.
Polly isn’t your real name. Where did it come from?
A couple of years ago, I lived in Medellin for quite a while. The pronunciation of my real name wasn’t that easy for Spanish-speaking people, so all of a sudden they started calling me Polly. It’s a reference to Polly Pocket, those little blonde puppets that were popular in the nineties. And I must admit, I love it.
How do you become a ballpoint-ninja?
You just gave me an idea to upload a guide on WikiHow. But between us, I guess it just takes one simple idea and a ballpoint.
About the ‘simple ideas’...Currently I have three different topics running through my artwork, and they're all based on a different approach. Project Fukit is about actually giving a f*ck. It is the reason why I started working as an artist. People started sending me pictures of their almighty finger and I started drawing them and sending the drawings to their friends anonymously. Imagine the stories that go along with that! Another series, Guilty Pleasures, is about the female body and our perception of sexuality. The third series has no title yet but it is much more about philosophical questions, morality and what's going on in the world nowadays.
What words best describe your art?
‘Positively provocative’ – two words that sum up the power of ink. A blue liquid that I fell in love with the first time I started doodling when I was a little kid. Searching for shades and intensities that change with every bend a line takes on paper. A simple scratch on a sheet is, if you look carefully, an elucidation of unspoken words.
Can you describe your artistic process?
It all starts with a sketch. I've piled up sketchbooks in my studio filled with poetry, texts and drawings. Based on that I look for visual representations. I draw in a rush of emotions. When I really feel it… it is magic seeing it coming to life on paper. The world disappears and the battle with ink starts.
Mostly I draw with ballpoint but I'm experimenting with other techniques too. Such as ink that is the base of ballpoint. When I made ‘la petite…’ I got truly fascinated by the shiny bronze layer you get when layering. Currently I'm experimenting with blue charcoal and I really want to dig into oil painting soon.
Every drawing, painting or sketch starts with a question. Mostly, there are no right or wrong answers to it. Perception is something fascinating to me. I collect thoughts of others to show different sides of a story.
A beautiful example I can give about my approach is the content that you see on your Facebook feed. Facebook’s algorithms make sure that you only see the news based on what your preferences are. By supporting this, you'll only see what you like to hear and say yes to, with no extra input to reflect on. Everyone has their own truths. And there is no right or wrong in it. (If it comes to morals, I could raise an eyebrow sometimes, but I try to stay as neutral as possible).
My series Guilty Pleasures is all about the female body. The forms, the curves,... There is an erotic side to it, but my main focus is more the study of the body and the on how women experiences their sexuality. There are so many types of pleasures, and I feel curious about it.
When I started to draw my friends, more and more women started to approach me online. They opened up about their desires, thoughts and even fantasies. Nothing gives me more pleasure than celebrating the beauty of this.
Love and affection. Lust and desire. They’re all different words and approaches to this topic. Due to my art, I have the privilege to read and share so many different and intimate views on sexuality. I love how people open up and share their thoughts and experiences. In a way, they all became my muses.
What’s inspiring you lately?
Random encounters, art history and contemporary artists like Jenny Saville. Her paintings and technique give a strong outburst. With her precise strokes she really captures the forms of a body.
I’ve always been passionate about art history and digging into the stories of paintings and artists. I can really lose myself reading books and going to museums. A real treasure hunt.
What’s it been like as a woman creating works around sexuality?
It’s been amazing. I absolutely love every bit of Guilty Pleasures, especially because it is so approachable. Everyone experiences their sensuality differently and I feel truly honoured that there are so many positive responses to it.
To me personally, it is about the female body and how we feel as women in all our expressions. As an artist, I look at it in a more plastic way, I guess. I focus on the forms and body structures along with the stories and content around it. Seriously, it has been so interesting.
Maybe it's not only about sexuality, though. Last year I made a big drawing with six layers of 17 emptied ballpoints. The title is ‘La petite…’, and there is the word ‘bite’ written in big gothic letters. The translation in French is literally ‘little penis’. It’s a reference to women being catcalled on the streets. Men comment our bodies all the time, but we don't say they have a small penis or whatever in public. How would they feel if we did?
What are your biggest challenges in producing erotic art in the heavily censored social media age?
I haven't been censored yet, and I keep my fingers crossed that it stays that way. Once, I uploaded a picture of a collab piece with Vincent Van Den Dries, a great photographer, and honestly, you can find humour in the fact that we have to blur the nipples or be creative with them. I've never had such shiny nipples like I had on that post. I prefer to laugh about the topic.
Censorship does take away the power of a picture or a drawing, so I hope that Facebook and Instagram will find a way to protect artists and professional photographers in their creative freedom.
Can you tell us about your favourite project to date?
My three series are a work in progress at the moment. They all have something that encourages me to draw more and more.
Can you tell us some of your favourite female artists?
Artemisia Gentileschi. I am a big fan of the baroque period (and even more from Rococo). Gentileschi mastered technique and light like no other. Strong symbolism and stories. Besides that, working in a male world like hers in the 17th century isn't as evident as it might seem today.
Tales of Lara. What a woman! She embodies every facet of female sensuality. Her words are written down like she's talking directly to you. Such a mysterious Instagram account.
Apollonia Saintclair. Her drawings are one of the first erotic ones I got in touch with. A friend of mine had one of her artworks on his wall and I couldn't stop looking at it. She is so clever in her subjects and her technique is impeccable.
Melodie Perrault. She makes me laugh every time I see her drawings popping up on my feed. No need to explain more, just check it out yourself to find out.
Louise Bourgeois. Know your classics. I remember seeing one of her retrospectives when I was little. When I was passing her artworks you could just ‘feel’ a lot of things. It was one of the first times I felt a connection with an artwork. Very hard to describe but if you ever experienced it you understand what I mean.
Frida Kahlo. She embodies the power of strong personalities in art history. Just like Bourgeois she captures a feeling in her paintings. As if you were part of what she was going through. Besides being a great painter she has a story to tell, principles to stand for and love for her family and others.