This month, we’re talking to Ludovica De Gaudenzi – thousands of followers on Instagram and exhibitions in Belgium, and we’re hardly surprised. Her intimate illustrations of women and couples are honest, playful, and feminist. We published her work in her 20th SHORT SHORTS issue, & we’re not stopping there.
We love your intimate illustrations, how playful and naughty they are – what inspires you? What do you like drawing most of all?
Thank you! I am mostly driven by what I think sexuality is: a mixture between something extremely sensual and “serious” and a more playful, childish side. I am inspired by artists like Vettriano and Klimt. They’re extremely different, but they portray those two opposites: sweetness and softness (Klimt) and seduction, sultriness (Vettriano). Those are two big inspirations of mine.
What I love portraying most are portraits of women from some sort of voyeur point of view; where she doesn’t know she’s being watched so she lets her emotions show. It’s either very soft or more erotic, it depends.
Women are a central feature in a lot of your illustrations. Why is this?
Well, I guess the most simple and least interesting answer is that I’m a woman – but that’s not entirely the reason. I believe women to have some sort of power or mysticism that men just don’t and that I’m always trying to capture in my drawings. I think their beauty comes from their strength, and their sensibility. Women can be sensual without trying, and their bodies are just more poetic than men’s.
Can you tell us about the three illustrations that we published last year – what are the thoughts behind these pieces?
The first one, with the two hands, was a drawing I made for my boyfriend at the time. It’s what I think love is, two hands reaching out to each other, but never touching. The vines are what holds them together – it’s a frail thing, so if you’re not careful it could break. For me, a relationship is about two people, two beings being close but never touching and finding something that holds them together and knowing that if you’re too sudden or if you’re not careful, that frail bond won’t hold.
The illustration of the couple is pretty much the same idea, but it’s a different approach. In that one, it’s a couple in an intimate moment, and what I imagined was that their bodies intertwine and as they do, the bond (symbolised by the vine) gets stronger. The intimacy of these moments makes the vine stronger and in those moments you are truly connected. It’s only temporary.
The last one is from a series I’m making called “Not Your Baby”. It’s mostly exploring the fine line between feminism and seduction. The girl is half naked, and she’s in a seductive position which could be interpreted as her wanting to be seductive. But she’s eating pizza, which is “unsexy” and her underwear says “not your baby”. The message is: don’t think I’m doing this to please you.
What is most important to you when it comes to art? What motivates you?
I think it’s all about sharing a message. It doesn’t matter if you’re good or not as long as you have something to say. Art shouldn’t be about technique, but about content. If it looks good but it doesn’t say anything, I don’t see the value. For me, I’m trying to tell a story through my art and to express something that I can’t really tell with words. I can be pain, joy, anger, what have you. All my drawings mean something to me and they have a deeper meaning and that’s what I believe gives them value. I think that I’ll be making art for as long as I’ll have something to say.
What are you working on at the moment? are there any projects that you can tell us about?
I recently finished working on a project for an exposition which was held in Brussels (at L’harmonium, 293 rue Vanderkindere) until the 31 January. For that expo, I did a series of drawings in my “Not Your Baby” series, where I tried to further this tension between sexy and playful.
At the moment, I don’t have really much I’m working on because of my studies (I’m writing my thesis) but I’ll keep on working on a new drawing series soon.
What is the next step for you? what would you love to see happen with your art?
I would love to work more outside of the web, maybe do another exposition or two in Brussels. That would be nice. It’s really something to have people looking at your art and coming up to you to comment it or ask you questions. It’s kind of stressful! But I enjoyed the experience. I would like to make that happen again.