Last night I was driving Samuel (full name: Samuel de Saboia dos Santos França, using they/them/their) home from the studio, home as in a blow-up mattress in my apartment. We piled up all of their pieces in the corners to make room for the walls to be sanded before the opening. Some pieces are painted on leathery material, some on canvas, there’s an embroidered piece. I stare for a long time at a piece Samuel has currently titled “Queer Voids.” It’s an assembly of lapiz blue arms wrapped around heads, drifting off into possible figments of bodies, green bloom in the top off-center. One bird wraps under a beige and red face in the right portion of the piece.
We clean up best we can, Samuel steps over a water color paint stain on the floor and cringes, they say they hope they don’t get chewed out for that. (they do get chewed out for that) The gallery (slash studio) is all white, walls, floors, ceiling, bathroom. Samuel doesn’t really have order & cleanliness at the forefront of their mind when they are painting. It’s more of a wild dance, switching between hands, brushes, splatting, spraying paint, grabbing a piece of charcoal, and another one when the first one breaks two seconds later. A frenzy, more deeply rooted in the subconscious.
As we are looking at each piece (which way should it go? horizontally, vertically?) they laugh, “I don’t know what all of these birds are about, but they are in every single piece.” I look around and tally, long, elegant necks wrapping around figures that appear in each piece. I ask them to theorize on the meaning of these birds, they say “Probably Horus, from Egyptian mythology. Also the cranes and swans my aunt had around when she was painting in her studio, but…. It’s definitely me, it’s my relation to freedom, being able to fly with my own wings. Being pretty, long birds are beautiful. Swans, doves…”
Samuel’s aunt was a hyper-realistic oil painter, obsessed with flowers. They would go to her studio daily to sit and watch her paint, or dash around with the swans and rabbits. “One night, when I was ten I was hanging out with her, no one told me she was sick. I kept telling her jokes, and it’s so vivid, I remember every single one I told. She was laughing so, so much. The next morning, my parents told me that there was something about my aunt — I already started crying. I knew what had happened somehow.
We are back home, Samuel is feeling defeated, laying on the floor after a few long days at the gallery.
“I want to launch my magazine.. I want to have a beautiful-ass vacation. I want to go to therapy… all the effort I put into this… I need to heal. My hair looks like crap. I’m sad. I’m tired.”
About an hour later (after they have had dinner) Samuel is laying on the floor, laughing while “Yummy” by Gwen Stefani plays in the background.
—How have you changed from last year, when I met you, until now.
My way of approaching things is way more self-driven, there’s things that I want. I’m more decisive of the things that I want. The things that I want to do. Towards myself, I have been learning more about gender, being more free in that area. Giving more importance to self and wellness. But in art, I don’t care about being safe or having any sort of rules, I never have.
I feel the merge of structure and having a more professional level towards the things that I do, the people that I am working with.
Also I know that everything I want is achievable, but I’m searching for the correct way to achieve it. A way that doesn’t damage me, safe ways, stable ways. I don’t want to deal with massive failures… like my last agent who was stealing from me. I want to feel protected and stable. (Maybe it’s not possible)
I need to be more stable though. I need to organize money. I made a lot of money this year but I somehow have none now.
—Yeah, It’s all investing right now.
Yeah, my money went to getting to the places to have my shows, throwing the next shows, basically. I spend a lot on tickets, 800 euros spent on LA to Paris, Paris to LA. Brazil to anywhere.. thats 800 euros. Supplies, paint is expensive. Canvas is expensive. Traveling, wherever I need to stay. Youth and queer people need to be able to have a more open dialogue about money and the self-investment in your own ideas. A dialogue that’s not about “getting money!” and conquering, but about balance and harmony.
— Why should we care about UnAmerican Beauty
It’s way more than just this saying… of “We care… We want to change the world.” It’s a pure moment. The show existing, those pieces existing. They get to talk for themselves… Imagine, how we have all of those ‘cute’ TV shows, Newspapers, Magazines, talking about marginalized beauty, it’s all white-passing people, telling our story. Telling the story of people who are not allowed to come to the big table to actually talk.
Unamerican Beauty is a truth coming from someone who lives it. It’s talking about humanity. It’s an exercise of giving back the privilege we were supposed to never have taken.
Especially, it’s one more show about love. We need more love, we need it.
Samuel De Saboia’s show is at 3800 S Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, this Saturday opening at 7 PM.
Please join us and bring flowers if you wish.