The Opening of Kisung Koh’s “Way of Life II” and Jana & Js “No Broken Promises” at Thinkspace Projects – February 2, 2019

It was a cold rainy day in Culver City on February 2nd when exhibitions Way of Life II and No Broken Promises opened to the public, but art enthusiasts and fans of Kisung Koh and Jana & JS braved the weather for the opening reception. Both exhibitions featured new work by the artists that highlight their unique artistic voice and style.

Thank you to all who came out to the opening! Kisung Koh’s Way of Life II and Jana & Js’s No Broken Promises are on view now through February 23rd.

Interview with Kisung Koh for “Way of Life II”

Kisung Koh’s “Way of Life II” opened Saturday, February 2nd and is on view till February 23rd. The exhibition features new works by Koh that highlights the hyper-realistically rendered and yet staged animals in abstracted or imagined spaces. The creatures acting as symbols for the complexity of life that is inexpressibly human and spiritual.

Our interview with Kisung Koh for “Way of Life II” discusses the inspiration behind the exhibition, the most challenging piece in the show, and the best advise he’s every received.

SH: For those that are not familiar with you and your work, can you give us a brief look at your artistic background and zodiac sign?-

KK:  I was born and raised in South Korea then moved to Canada in 2006. My childhood memories are full of exploring nature/looking for any creatures in nature. All I wanted to do was nothing but witness, study and feel their life while the majority of kids went for video games or sports. I used to bring insects home and watch them again, only to be forced to release them after my Dad told me to.. haha. Anyway, I believe these habits have led me to create their ‘world’ in my works as I got older. I feel like I went back to my childhood in my works. In addition, I see a lot of myself from nature and learn life lesson such as dealing with relationships between people many times. 

I studied illustration at Sheridan College in ON, Canada, graduating with a BAA in 2012. I work and live in Toronto now. My zodiac sign is Scorpio. 

SH: What inspired this latest body of work?

KK: The new body of work for ‘Way of life 2’ has initially started with my feeling in people’s relationships and my thoughts to the world we live in.

By meaning ‘ the world’ is the most diverse and complex society. We feel many emotions and struggles in many circumstances. I feel like we hustle everyday in our lives. Since I’ve spent a lot of time for myself with depression while preparing this show,  I thought about the emotions and struggle that people could feel such as love, hate, sadness, abandoned, loneliness, solitude, confusion, selfishness, and mercy. I dedicated entirely those feelings to the new body of work, and decided to call it ‘way of life’.

These works are very personal but i believe and hope that viewers can apply themselves to my works.

SH:  Is there a particular piece in this exhibition you feel really challenged you? If so, why and what makes you proud of this piece.  

KK: Polar bear one. In fact, it was a totally different painting at first and wasn’t even a polar bear but a mountain lion. This painting got me through so much time and trouble when I started this. I can’t really explain but every process with this particular piece gave me a crazy amount of stress and depression. Not because of the fact that I wasn’t happy with the piece, I basically had painted a number of poses and faces of a mountain lion that I thought were right for the piece, but in the end, none of them worked. At some point, I gave it up and was about to destroy it but then went back to this piece again. Mountain lions just wasn’t working here.

And I could’ve just gone away and started the next one. However, I strongly felt that I must get it right in this piece, it was like as if I had to win against the devil.  I know it sounds stupid. Again, I can’t explain and this might sound very foolish but somehow its got me more depressed every time. I was working on this, and it made me start thinking about who I am in relationships with people and society, why I think I’m always alone, why I think that I might have bad energy, my dog might not be normal because of my energy, and so on. As I’m writing this, I might regret later to reveal these negative thoughts but I want to be honest. In the end, I feel that I got the piece right.

SH:  How do you capture ideas for pieces; do you have a sketchbook on hand or is it just a note to yourself in your phone?

KK: I start to think about an animal that I like to paint. Then I create situations or stories, most of the time they are reflections of my life in a metaphorical way, then start creating the look I would be if I were this animal. And yes, I have a sketchbook on hand and sometimes I would like to take a photo or make a note in my phone.

SH: What excites you about your work / creative process?

KK: In my works, I spend a lot of time to create facial expressions of animals, in between dreamy and realistic. When I get it right, I’m happy. I also get excited when my final work looks the same that I had first. I’m sure many artists feel the same, but it’s a challenge for me to make the final work looking just like the image in your head because I sometimes change the entire mood of image or myself while I’m working.

SH: What frustrates you about your work / creative process?

KK: Hm, I think making a ‘right'( for me) image and mood that a piece shows is the challenge. Maybe I think I’m too picky most of the times. It’s also challenging to make the right ‘look’ on the animal’s face. 

SH:  What do you think the role of artists is in society? How does other artwork inform how you move through life? 

KK: I can’t answer this question, because I think the role of artists in society has so many and I agree with most of them.  All I can say is it’s essential in our life. 

SH: If your body of work inspired an ice cream flavor, what would it be called and what are the ingredients?

KK: I’m not sure the flavor but I just imagined in my head that someone eating a vanilla ice cream cone and looking at my works. I tried to see different ice cream in someone’s hand but it has to be vanilla ice cream cone, no syrup on. Let’s say McDonald ice cream cone but in longer cone. 

SH: What is the best advice you’ve received as an artist? The best advice you’ve received in general?

KK: “Believe in yourself”

SH: Favorite way to celebrate the completion of a project/body of work?

KK: I want to have beautiful times with my wife and my two dogs. They are my everything in Canada. 

“CONVERGENCE” Opens at the University of Texas at El Paso’s Rubin Center for the Visual Arts

Last week Convergence opened at the Rubin Center for the Visual Arts at the University of Texas at El Paso. The group exhibition featured an installation by Michael Reeder and works by Alex Garant, Brian Mashburn, Casey Weldon, Cinta Vidal, David Rice, Drew Merritt, Jolene Lai, Michael Reeder, Scott Listfield, Telmo Miel and Wiley Wallace.

Convergence will be on view now through April 6th at the Rubin Center for the Visual Arts.

Rubin Center for the Visual Arts
The University of Texas at El Paso
500 W. University Avenue
El Paso, Texas 79968

Interview with Jana & JS for “No Broken Promises”

We’re excited to be showing husband and wife duo Jana & JS in the Thinkspace Project room for “No Broken Promises” opening Saturday, February 2nd. The exhibition will show new stencil and acrylic spray paint works by the French/Austrian pair who have been collaborating since 2007. The two have developed a stylized stenciling practice, often using site-specificity and portrait-based interventions into a city’s architecture to produce unexpected encounters.

In anticipation of “No Broken Promises” our interview with Jana & Js discusses the inspiration behind the exhibition, their feelings towards their creative process, and what they do after completing a body of work.

SH: You’ve shared with us before how you began to work together, but for those that are not familiar with your work as a duo, can you give us three words that describe the evolution of your artistic partnership and each other’s respective zodiac sign? 
J&J: More personal, More sensitive, More introspective 
Jana is Taurus / Js is Virgo

SH: Is there a particular piece in this exhibition that really challenged you both? If so, why and what makes you proud of this piece.
J&J: We can’t really think of a piece that was more challenging to create than the others. But we can say that we are very happy with the works “All I want to see is that you’re ok” and “Waiting”. 
We have been introducing some new elements lately, and we really like how these precise pieces came out! 

SH: What inspired this latest body of work?
J&J: “Memories” is the main inspiration for this body of work.
All the images that we painted were inspired by our memories, or feelings induced by past moments. The objects we painted are carrying history and memories from others. 
All the pieces we’re presenting for this show are painted on found objects, assemblages of wood fragments that we found in abandoned houses or factories. 
These objects had a previous life, all the objects have accompanied people in their everyday life or in their works. We love to think about all the history they have and use the mark of the time passing in our work.   

SH: How do you capture ideas for pieces; do you have a sketchbook on hand or is it just a note to yourself in your phone?
J&J: We don’t really have a sketchbook, for that kind of work. it’s more of a notebook where we are writing ideas, phrases, lyrics… 
Our camera would be our sketchbook. The basis of our stencil work is our photographic work. We take a lot of pictures… and some of them will be transferred into paintings. 

SH: What excites you about your work / creative process?
J&J: We never get bored of what we are doing. We love our “job” and living something special like that together is the most exciting thing for us.  
Being able to be creative, travel, discover new environments, meet new people (and especially because we can do that together) is amazing. 
And being able to perpetually share ideas and built our work is thrilling. 

SH: What frustrates you about your work/ creative process?
J&J: Right now, what frustrates us the most is not having enough time to experiment more.  

SH: What do you think the role of artists is in society? How does other artwork inform how you move through life?
J&J: We believe that artists are providing society with emotions, reflexions that lead to make the world a better place.  

SH: What is the best advice you’ve received as an artist? The best advice you’ve received in general? 
J&J: The best advice we’ve received as an artist is “Be true to yourself, express the things that makes sense to you” and we guess that is also the best advice we received in general. 

SH: Favorite way to celebrate the completion of a project/body of work?
J&J: Spend time with the kids, and forget about the painting for a little while. 

Join us for the opening of “No Broken Promises” this Saturday,
February 2nd from 6 – 9 pm. 


Jana & JS “No Broken Promises” Showing at Thinkspace in February

JANA & JS
NO BROKEN PROMISES
February 2 – February 23, 2019

Concurrently on view in the Thinkspace project room is No Broken Promises, featuring new stencil and acrylic spray paint works by husband and wife duo Jana & JS. The French/Austrian pair, collaborating since 2007, has developed a stylized stenciling practice, often using site-specificity and portrait-based interventions into a city’s architecture to produce unexpected encounters. Working with existing structures and found materials, the pair explores the relational tension between past and present, new and old, static and variable.

Based on their photography, these images often stage emotionally jarring or poignant figurative compositions, capturing unexpected moments of intimacy, disclosure, or tenderness in impossible or unlikely contexts. With the help of dramatic shifts in scale and contrast, the superimposition of these disarmingly vulnerable narratives onto the structurally immovable or permanent alters our perception of place. Ultimately, the pair modifies the reception of context by colonizing it with the meaningful assertions of personal experience. Jana & JS explore the position of the individual within the homogenizing expanse of the urban landscape and consider how that subjectivity must find a way to exist in spite of the potentially negating and impersonal nature of life in the modern city.

Concise and impactful, Jana & JS’ works are bold, chromatic, and graphically circumscribed, recalling a quality of line essential to the language of print. Their insertion of the personal and emotive into the public domain disrupts its fundamental disavowal there, perhaps in the hopes of reassuring its continued expression and visualizing a politics of empathy.