Interview with Carlos Ramirez for ‘A Faster Hallelujah’

Thinkspace is pleased to present A Faster Hallelujah featuring new work by Carlos Ramirez in our project room.

This exhibition perfectly illustrates Ramirez’s evolution as an artist. His oeuvre remains alluring and magical while simultaneously offering satirical commentary on political and social issues on behalf of the oppressed.

In anticipation of  A Faster Hallelujah our interview with Carlos Ramirez explores his inspiration for the exhibition, artistic influences, and an album cover he wishes he could design.

SH: For those that are not familiar with you and your work, can you give us a brief look at your artistic background and how you came to meet our curator and co-owner Andrew Hosner?

CR: Initially, before working and coming to Los Angeles, I lived and worked in the Coachella valley. It’s where I was born and raised and became a self-taught artist. I eventually ventured out and began working with galleries in Los Angeles like New Image Art and Ace Gallery, Jonathan Levine Projects in New York, and a few in London like Pow.

I believe the first time I met Andrew was around 2005. We eventually worked together, when I took part in an exhibition at Thinkspace Gallery titled ‘New Blood’ in 2012 curated by producer Morgan Spurlock .

SH: What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work?

CR: The inspiration for my latest work – I think is inspired or compelled by an internal and personal dialogue or discussion, I think most of us are having around this social and political climate. The American fabric seems to be forced into fraying by its own doing. America finds itself forced into drawing social and even racial lines in some unfortunate cases, and those lines become more defined the longer it goes on.

 I have a sense of duty as an artist, and for me to not say or question anything – for me that would be almost sinful.

SH: Who are some of your creative influences?

CR: There are so many it’s hard to narrow down, but some of my earliest influences were from people I didn’t even know. Early influences came through prison letters sent to family members containing some of the most amazing art I had ever seen. Then later on in life artist like Francisco Toledo to Ai Wei Wei … there are just too many.

SH: Did you have an art mentor at the beginning of your career?

CR: Unfortunately besides my 8th-grade art teacher not really, unless you can consider the hood mixed with a little reality as a mentor.

SH: What is your favorite and least favorite part of the creative process?

CR: My favorite part of the creative process would have to be the learning experiences and the journey’s they’ve created. Not that it’s bad, but my least would have to be staying disciplined and approaching it like an 8 to 5 .

SH: Is there a particular piece in this exhibition you feel really challenged you?

CR: Yes there is a couple but it’s a smaller piece that challenged me emotionally ‘Your Hood’, for some reason that piece kept pissing me off. I think the fact that the subject matter is still relevant in 2020 just blows my mind.

SH: If you could make an album cover for any musical artist, who would it be?

CR: I’ve already worked with some awesome people in the music industry like Primus, Joe Jonas, Brant Bjork formerly of Kyuss , John Garcia, and a few others but I think even though he’s no longer with us, and if I had a choice –  it would be Gil Scott-Heron.

SH: If you could download any skill into your brain, Matrix-style, what would you want to instantly learn?

CR: Where is the power source .

SH: Would you rather be able to talk to animals or read people’s minds?

CR: Even though it might be a lil scary to know what animals think of us, I’d have to always go with the animals. 

SH: If you could have dinner with 5 people dead or alive, who would they be and what would you be eating?

CR: With my semi twisted thinking I would have to say Ghandi, Richard Ramirez , Dr. Kevorkian , Nostradamus, and John Lennon to compare notes and we’d be eating THC edibles.

Interview with Huntz Liu for ‘Subtraction’

Thinkspace is pleased to present Subtraction featuring new work by Huntz Liu in our project room.

Liu’s compositions are comprised of shapes that sit on different planes, creating literal depth, while the composition itself creates a perceived depth. It is this intersection of the literal and perceived that informs the work; where the absence of material reveals form and the casting of shadow create line.

In anticipation of Subtraction, our interview with Huntz Liu expands on our previous talk with the artist and dives into Matrix downloads and where he would take Bruce Lee to dinner.

SH: In our previous interview with you, you had said that you source a lot inspiration from architecture and interior spaces. Can you tell us what some of your favorite buildings or spaces maybe?

HL: Of buildings I’ve been: Salk Institute, Bauhaus Dessau, Getty Center, Musée d’Orsay.

SH: Do you buy your colored paper in bulk for multiple works to be made at the same time or just the paper you need for one piece? Can you share with us a picture of how your paper is stored/organized?

HL: I buy and store paper in bulk. My studio can definitely pass as a paper store.

SH: How many exacto-blades do you go through in a month?

HL: I would say roughly 50 blades.

SH: Did or do you have an artistic mentor?

HL: No, I’ve never had one.

SH: Are you a coffee or tea person? How do you prepare it? Do you have a favorite brand of it?

HL: Coffee for sure. I just burr grind and brew with a basic machine. Not too picky about coffee roasters.

SH: If you could make an album cover for any musical artist, who would it be?

HL: Probably Beck.

SH: If you could download any skill into your brain, Matrix-style, what would you want to instantly learn?

HL: I would download the skill of being able to maintain a consistent meditation/mindfulness practice. Maybe that’s just discipline.. is discipline a skill?

SH: Would you rather be able to talk to animals or read people’s minds?

HL: Read people’s minds.

SH: If you could have dinner with 5 people dead or alive, who would they be and what would you be eating?

HL: Bruce Lee, Kanye, Nefertiti, Elliott Smith, and Duchamp.. getting our hands dirty at a Boiling Crab.

Carlos Ramirez’s ‘A Faster Hallelujah’ on view April 4th through April 25th

CARLOS RAMIREZ
A Faster Hallelujah 
On view April 4 – April 25, 2020

Thinkspace is pleased to present new works from Carlos Ramirez in A Faster Hallelujah, opening April 4. This upcoming show perfectly illustrates Ramirez’s evolution as an artist. His oeuvre remains alluring and magical while simultaneously offering satirical commentary on political and social issues on behalf of the oppressed.

Ramirez was born in 1967 in the Coachella Valley (California) where he is currently based. He was formerly part of the artist collaboration The Date Farmers with Armando Lerma for over a decade. The duos work was exhibited in museums such as Oakland Museum of California, Laguna Art Museum and Palm Springs Art Museum. The Date Farmers began working independently in 2017.

Carlos’ works are layered reflections of a polymorphous identity; foreign yet familiar perspectives existing in a liminal reality between cultures, collecting ephemera and detritus, and combining it into playful assemblage pieces. Ramirez’s work often speaks of the inequalities within Mexican American communities and often champions the common man as underdog.

His work is tremendously resourceful, scavenging for creative materials within various desert locales. The work is replete with layers and textures intertwined with the political while being disguised as popular. Works include a combination of house paint,, sparkly stickers, handwritten bilingual text, rusted bottle caps, discarded packaging, and an iconic stylized use of acrylic paint with deeply layered figurative workings. Snakes, spiders, scorpions, and other bits of nature from his hometown appear mixed in with Catholic symbolism, aliens, perceived gang members, pop-culture references, and commercial imagery, giving brand logos and religious icons the same attention and placement.

Huntz Liu’s ‘Subtraction’ on view April 4th to April 25th

HUNTZ LIU
Subtraction
On view April 4 – April 25, 2020

Concurrently on view in the Thinkspace project room is “Subtraction”, featuring new works from Huntz Liu. The artist works with a straight edge and knife, cutting and layering the paper to expose geometric/abstract compositions. These compositions are comprised of shapes that sit on different planes, creating literal depth, while the composition itself creates a perceived depth. It is this intersection of the literal and perceived that informs the work; where the absence of material reveals form and the casting of shadow create line.

Recently, Liu has been further exploring the collision between imaginary space and real space: shadows that cast shadow / extruding shapes that recede like a sunken relief / sliced shapes formed by cut material.
The artist adds “Underlying every piece is the method and medium of hand-cut paper. There is a calm in this process, with its forced tedium + slow/heavy time consumption, that allows me to live in and about the work. Every shape and color, every corner and edge, I was there for. There is no escaping it and, ultimately, there are no shortcuts.”

Studio Visit with Carlos Ramirez in anticipation of “A Faster Hallelujah”

A studio visit with Carlos Ramirez for his upcoming solo exhibition “A Faster Hallelujah” that will open on Saturday, April 4 via our website and blog for online viewing.

Ramirez’s work is a multi-cultural mix of old and new, layered with socio-political ideas, street aesthetics, and pop iconography. After many years of collaborating and receiving international recognition as one half of The Date Farmers, Carlos is continuing to forge a new chapter as a solo artist and we could not be more honored to be working with him.

Video courtesy of Birdman