Interview with Fintan Magee for “The Big Dry”

Thinkspace is proud to present, ‘The Big Dry‘ the first solo exhibition of
new works by Australian artist and street muralist Fintan Magee in our main room.  Fintan is a contemporary social realist and a portrait painter who incorporates compelling and poetic elements of the surreal into his pieces. For The Big Dry, Magee looks to the idea of the American dream, specifically, the white picket fence and the aspirational ambitions it represents. Drawing parallels with the exclusionary policies of the Trump era and its constant inculcation and threat of ‘the wall,’ Magee considers the white picket fence as another divisive symbol, and asks the question: “who built the American dream?” In anticipation of Fintan’s upcoming exhibition with us, we have an exclusive interview with Fintan Magee to discuss his latest body of work, time travel, and studio life.

Join us for the opening of “The Big Dry”, Saturday, June 2nd from 6 to 9 pm. 

SH: Tell us about this show. What is the inspiration? What were you exploring in the work?
FM: The show is really an exploration of day to day experience to explore issues and place them in a human context. This exhibition will be a series of paintings, short stories, and installations that I will explore my experiences during the millennium drought in Australia. I wanted to draw links between the drought in Australia and California but also use my experiences to talk about broader global issues like climate change.

SH: What 3 websites do you check every day or people you follow on social media?
FM: I don’t really check blogs as much as I used to which sucks because the Instagram and Facebook algorithms are really making it difficult to see interesting or different content other than the shit that is going ‘viral’. The three Instagram profiles I check daily outside of art are @amapaday @browncardigan and @cooksuck

SH: What excites you about your work / creative process?
FM: Pretty much all of it.

SH: What frustrates you about your work / creative process?
FM: Pretty much all of it.

SH: After a show what do you do? Do you take a long break, vacation, a particular ritual? Tell us.
FM: I have one day off to get wasted and then usually get straight back to work. After being locked away in the studio for a while I am usually pretty eager to get out and paint some walls so I like to get straight back out there.

SH: How do you plan out your compositions?
FM: I usually start with a sketch, then take reference photo’s, then do another sketch. Then put together a mockup in photoshop. If I am happy with how it’s working I will then put it on canvas.

SH: How often are you in the studio, do you work on the pieces daily or do you have creative spurts with concentrated efforts or work and then long periods of not working?
FM: No I am constantly working year round besides a week or two off at Christmas. I am usually in the studio 6 days a week and try to do a solid 8 hours painting every day, sometimes more if I have a deadline.

SH: What do you eat when working on the show? Are you a 3 square meals kind of person, or have snacks on hand?
FM: No, I rarely snack. 3 square meals a day is enough for me. I was on a low carb diet when I was making most of this show which generally sucked. I am looking forward to putting some weight back on when I get to America.

SH: If you were to collaborate with a band or musical artists to create a music video inspired by your artwork, who would you work with?
FM: I have never really thought about something like this before. I have always seen my work as telling stories so I would want to work with a musician that also saw themselves as similar, Someone like Tom Waits, Nick Cave or Kendrick Lamar for example.

SH: Has there been an artistic catalyst in your life? Something, someone, some event that made a significant impact on you that has lead you to where you are now.
FM: I don’t think there has ever been a moment. I have always been drawing since I was a little kid so it has been a long and slow build up more than anything.

SH: What’s in your toolbox? AKA what paints, brushes, tools would we find in your studio? What do you wish was in your studio?
FM: The only thing I use out of the ordinary is a weed sprayer and a fire extinguisher full of paint. The only thing I wish is that I was able to keep my studio cleaner. It’s usually pretty chaotic.

SH: You have a time machine, and you could do anything / go anywhere for 24 hours, and would not interfere with the space-time continuum. What would you do?
FM: There is no way I would go back in time. I would be pretty keen to see what the world is like 100 years from now. So I would just drop in and out of points in the future to see how it all worked out.

VITALITY AND VERVE III at the Long Beach Museum of Art

at the Long Beach Museum of Art‘Art After Dark’ Opening Reception: Friday, June 29, 2018
On View June 30, 2018 thru September 9, 2018 at:Long Beach Museum of Art
2300 East Ocean Boulevard
Long Beach, CA. 90803Friday, June 29 opening night gala tickets available soon:
www.lbma.orgClick HERE to join the Facebook event.

Featuring ephemeral murals and installations from:
Bordalo II, CASE, Evoca1, Sergio Garcia, Herakut, Hush,
Jaune, Leon Keer, Koz Dos, Spenser Little, Fintan Magee,
Dennis McNett, Drew Merritt, Michael Reeder, RISK, SEEN,
Amy Sol, Super A, Juan Travieso, Dan Witz and Lauren YS

The Long Beach Museum of Art (LBMA) presents Vitality and Verve III, an exhibition dedicated to showcasing new works by artists of the New Contemporary Art Movement. Presented in curatorial collaboration with Los Angeles’ Thinkspace Projects and the support of POW! WOW! Long Beach, the exhibition is the third iteration in the collaborative series which has secured record-breaking public attendance since 2015.

Vitality and Verve III will present a relevant cross-section of some of the most exciting artists working under the New Contemporary handle today and will feature site-specific works by these 21 individuals brought together in the same space for the first time. Their impermanent installations are tangentially activated, transforming the ground floor and Ocean View gallery of the LBMA into an immersive ephemeral playground for the senses.

The exhibition will feature new, site-specific works by internationally renowned artists, Bordalo II, CASE, Evoca1, Sergio Garcia, Herakut, Hush, Jaune, Leon Keer, Koz Dos, Spenser Little, Fintan Magee, Dennis McNett, Drew Merritt, Michael Reeder, RISK, SEEN, Amy Sol, Super A, Juan Travieso, Dan Witz and Lauren YS. Each will contribute a unique piece and vantage point, working across a variety of media.

The New Contemporary Art Movement is known for its diversity; several styles, media, contexts, and exhibition platforms fall within its expansive cast, including public art interventions and site-specific urban murals. This breadth has long been embraced as a subversive impulse vis-a-vis the more exclusionary and contained tenets of contemporary art production, particularly those minted in academe and aspiring to the vetted legitimacy of the ‘white cube.’ The movement’s vested interest in incorporating the social and representational, counter to its often systemic disavowal, has allowed it to thrive outside of institutional support, though this exclusionary paradigm is rapidly shifting.

Largely self-supported and community-driven since the 90’s, many of the movement’s artists are self-taught or have come into their own through multi-disciplinary backgrounds. Gaining international recognition over the past decade, the movement is now widely recognized as both the largest and longest running organized art movement in history, boasting veterans and established artists as well as emergent ones. The evocative potential of representation inspires these artists to draw from popular and countercultural sources like music, illustration, comics, graffiti, design, punk, tattoo culture, hip-hop, skate culture, etc., looking to the outside world rather than to the self-referential gestures that have typified the traditional exclusions of contemporary art.


Long Beach Museum of Art hours and admission:
Thursday: 11AM to 8PM
Friday – Sunday: 11AM to 5PM
$7 adult admission / $6 seniors (over age 62) and students with Valid I.D.
Free for museum members and children under 12

**FREE ADMISSION after 3PM on Thursdays and ALL DAY on Fridays**

About the LBMA:
The Long Beach Museum of Art (LBMA) was founded in 1950 as a municipal art center for the city of Long Beach. Since its inception, the Museum has been housed in the historic 1911 Elizabeth Milbank Anderson House. In 1957, the Anderson House was designated as the Long Beach Museum of Art, at which time the Museum began acquiring a permanent collection.

In 1977, the Museum was honored with accreditation by the American Association of Museums, which it has since maintained. Since 1986, the Long Beach Museum of Art Foundation has managed the Museum, governed by a Board of Trustees. In 2000, the Museum completed a restoration of the historic residence and constructed a new two-story exhibition pavilion (in 2015 the pavilion was renamed the Hartman Pavilion). Since then, the Museum has offered diverse and compelling exhibitions, which has resulted in increased visitors and program attendance.

The Museum’s permanent collection is diverse with more than 3,200 works encompassing 300 years of American and European art in all media. Highlights from the collection include furniture by Charles and Ray Eames, ceramics by Beatrice Wood, and sculptures by Claire Falkenstein, George Rickney and Peter Voulokos; Early 20th Century European Modernist paintings by Vasily Kandinsky, Alexej Jawlensky and others from the Milton Wichner Collection; and contemporary artists such as James Jean, Sherrie Wolf, and Sandow Birk whose paintings have recently been added to the collection.

About POW! WOW! Long Beach:
POW! – It’s the impact that art has on a person.

WOW! – It’s the reaction that art has on a viewer.

Together they form POW! WOW!, which is a Native American term that describes a gathering that celebrates culture, music and art.

Centered around a week-long event in Hawaii, POW! WOW! has grown into a global network of artists and organizes gallery shows, lecture series, schools for art and music, creative community spaces, concerts, and live art installations across the globe. The central event takes place during Valentine’s Day week in February in the Kaka’ako district of Honolulu, and brings over a hundred international and local artist together to create murals and other forms of art. The festival is expanding to cities and countries such as Long Beach, Taiwan, Israel, Singapore, Jamaica, Washington D.C., Guam, New Zealand, Germany and many more.

About Thinkspace:

Thinkspace was founded in 2005; now in LA’s Culver City Arts District, the gallery has garnered an international reputation as one of the most active and productive exponents of the New Contemporary Art Movement. Maintaining its founding commitment to the promotion and support of its artists, Thinkspace has steadily expanded its roster and diversified its projects, creating collaborative and institutional opportunities all over the world. Founded in the spirit of forging recognition for young, emerging, and lesser-known talents, the gallery is now home to artists from all over the world, ranging from the emerging, mid-career, and established.

The New Contemporary Art Movement, not unlike its earlier 20th Century counterparts like Surrealism, Dada, or Fauvism, ultimately materialized in search of new forms, content, and expressions that cited rather than disavowed the individual and the social. The earliest incarnations of the Movement, refusing the paradigmatic disinterest of “Art” as an inaccessible garrison of ‘high culture’, championed figuration, surrealism, representation, pop culture, and the subcultural. By incorporating the ‘lowbrow,’ accessible, and even profane, an exciting and irreverent art movement grew in defiance of the mandated renunciations of “high” art. Emerging on the West Coast in the 90’s partly as a response to the rabid ‘conceptual-turn’ then championed on the East Coasts, the Movement steadily created its own platforms, publications, and spaces for the dissemination of its imagery and ideas.

Though the New Contemporary Art Movement has remained largely unacknowledged by the vetted institutions of the fine art world and its arbiters of ‘high culture,’ the future promises a shift. The Movement’s formative aversion to the establishment is also waning in the wake of its increased visibility, institutional presence, and widespread popularity.

Thinkspace has sought to champion and promote the unique breadth of the Movement, creating new opportunities for the presentation of its artists and work. Though still very much invested in the elevation and exposure of its emerging talents, the gallery, now in its 13th year, has come into its own with a roster that reflects this maturity. An active advocate for what is now one of the longest extant organized art movement’s in history, Thinkspace is an established voice for its continued growth and evolution.

The gallery has in recent years expanded its projects beyond Los Angeles, exhibiting with partner galleries and organizations in Berlin, Hong Kong, London, New York City, Detroit, Chicago, and Honolulu among many others, participating in International Art Fairs, and curating New Contemporary content for Museums. Committed to the vision, risk, and exceptional gifts of its artists, the gallery is first and foremost a family. From the streets to the museums, and from the “margins” to the white cube, Thinkspace is re-envisioning what it means to be “institutional.”


Sherman Gallery – Marina Del Rey 2018

Croation artist Lonac has created impressive large-scale, site-specific murals across Europe and worldwide, combining photorealistic rendering with illustrative and two-dimensional stylistic elements. He’s now taken his signature style to canvas for his first solo exhibition “Strange Tales” with Thinkspace.

“Stange Tales” is currently on view from now through May 26th.

To view available pieces from the exhibition click here.

Waiting for the sky to dry” mural for “No Limit Boras” in Boras, Sweden. | Photo by Brian MacElvaine
“Vices” mural for Art Public Leiria festival in Leiria, Portugal. | Photo by Silk Fat Blues
‘Dionysus’ for Graffitina Gradele 2017. | Photos by Silk Fat Blue
“Mockingbirds” New mural for Grenoble Street Art Fest in Grenoble, France. | Photo by Andrea Berlese

Fintan Magee’s “The Big Dry” Coming in June to Thinkspace Culver City

The Big Dry
June 2 – June 23, 2018

Thinkspace is pleased to present The Big Dry, its first solo exhibition of new works by Australian-born artist and muralist, Fintan Magee. A prolific international muralist, Magee has created architecturally scaled paintings and public interventions all over the world; over 200 murals across five continents, including pieces in Bogota, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, London, Vienna, Los Angeles, Moscow, and Oslo, among many others. Magee draws from the personal and the social to reveal unexpected moments of universality and connection, addressing topical and current issues like climate change, environmental crisis, political inequity, loss, and displacement, all framed with pathos, sensitivity, and humor.

In The Big Dry, Magee looks to the idea of the American dream, specifically, the white picket fence and the aspirational ambitions it represents. As a symbol of the ownership of affluent middle white class America, the white picket fence has endured historically in our cultural consciousness. A product of the post-war capitalist idealism of the 50s, the white suburban domestic enclosure is a socially acceptable symbol of class division and segregation. Omitted from this narrative, however, is the tradition of migrant labor upon which this dream and its ideological mores have relied; those who have been excluded from its privileges are those who have physically built its foundations. Drawing parallels with the exclusionary policies of the Trump era and its constant inculcation and threat of ‘the wall,’ Magee considers the white picket fence as another divisive symbol, and asks the question: “who built the American dream?”

Born in Lismore, New South Wales, Australia, to creative parents, Magee grew up in Brisbane where he first gravitated towards graffiti. Encouraged to pursue drawing at an early age, Magee started painting local walls in his hometown at the beginning of high school and remained a graffiti writer, primarily, until 2010. He eventually outgrew the aesthetic and compositional limitations of writing and turned towards figuration and ambitious large-scale mural painting instead. Inspired by the street art scene and muralism movement evolving in the UK at the time with artists like Chloe Early, Connor Harrington, and Ian Francis, Magee began experimenting with narrative representation and figuration. Executing larger and more complex murals all over the world, Magee began developing his own voice, responding to site and place with contextually inflected public works created in specific response to the environment.

Magee is ultimately a contemporary social realist and a portrait painter. Though he incorporates compelling and poetic elements of the surreal into his impressive murals, his works are driven by an emphasis on individual stories and socially conscious narratives. Magee keeps his imagery firmly rooted in real human concern while drawing personal parallels with his own experiences and anecdotes. A firm believer in the substantive power of art to transform city spaces, democratize culture, and resonate with the masses on a guttural level, Magee continues to convert endless city sprawls into physically imposing stories, one massive wall at a time.

David Rice’s “Hanging Valley” Coming in June to Thinkspace Culver City

Hanging Valley
June 2 – June 23, 2018

Concurrently, on view in the Thinkspace project room is Hanging Valley featuring new works by Portland-based artist, illustrator, and designer, David Rice. Inspired by the potential of unlikely pairings, Rice pushes the limits and boundaries of the physical world through his imagery, accessing a lawless surreal in which patterns merge with physical spaces, human and natural worlds intermingle, and the scale of site and place slide.

A gifted realist painter, Rice’s works combine beautifully rendered flora and fauna with references to cityscapes, architectures, graphic motifs, natural phenomena, and patterns. The juxtaposition of these elements transforms Rice’s visual universe into one of fantasy and experiment. Things that shouldn’t coexist together plausibly do, and the viewer is offered new entry points into otherwise familiar objects and spaces, invited to see them anew through a less restrictive framework and encouraged to forge new relationships to the subject matter.

Rice’s creative free association supports these subtle, and at times not so subtle, shifts in reality. Protean and expansive, his environments are close enough to the real to feel familiar and far enough away to feel transporting and completely unknown.