Interview with Fuco Ueda for “Elysium”

Tokyo-based surrealist artist Fuco Ueda’s dreamy new pieces for the group exhibition Elysium continues to showcase her ethereal acrylic paintings mixed with Japan Gofun shell powder that gives her work a unique glow. The movement in Ueda’s work is weightless reflected in the flowing waterscapes she’s created in her latest body of work.  Our interview with Fuco Ueda reveals the inspiration and creative heart behind the pieces.

Join us for the opening of Elysium Saturday, November 10th from 6 pm to 9 pm

SH: What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? What ideas or themes were you exploring?

JL: “To fall asleep” is inspired by the Buddhist Nirvana diagram. The Buddhist Nehan-zu (painting of Great Nirvana) draws the way the Buddha opens enlightenment and dies. Cambrian creatures are floating in “To fall asleep”. It expresses the flow of the world different from the current flow of time.

Communication II

SH: How do you approach developing a new body of work and capture ideas for pieces; do you have a sketchbook on hand or is it just a note to yourself in your phone?

JL: I went to see the Buddhist Nehan-zu at a museum in Kyoto.
After reading and researching books on the subject, I will then draw simple outlines in my sketchbook developing and honing the ideas over time.

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

JL: Finding inspiration and watching the composition emerge.

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

JL: When the idea and image of my art is not clear.

Symbiosis 2017

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?

JL: “To fall asleep” and “Symbiosis 2017”
Because it pushed through some creative challenges I had imposed on myself. (However, I don’t think anyone would be able to detect the struggle)

SH: Who is an artist; musician, director, any art form – who would be a dream collaboration for you and what would you create?

JL: All arts are a dream collaboration. I’d enjoy collaborating with music, movies, theater, fashion, and other fields. I am also interested in my artwork being used in media art and technology.

Herald

SH: Has there been someone or some event that has made a significant impact on you that lead you to where you are now? An artistic catalyst of sorts?

JL: I have been influenced by Japanese literature since I was a child. In addition, I’ve also been influenced by vintage Japanese comics, especially those made for the 1970s girl in Japan. At that time, it was an unconventional media showing cultural movements including SF, fantasy and homosexual elements, it had innovative content. The new female image was nurtured in those comics.

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?

JL: I put a canvas of cloth on a wooden panel, it has a painted base. This is a traditional white paint raw materials of Japan Gofun (shell powder) is also crowded mix. I paint with acrylic paint.

To Fall Asleep

SH: After a show what do you do? Do you take a long break, vacation, a particular ritual? Tell us.

JL: From this year, I became a teacher at a certain Art University in Tokyo, I enjoy those class. That is the University of my alma mater.

SH: In one or two words, tell us something that you really like or resonates with you about the work of each artist in Elysium.

JL: I have not been able to see the exhibits of other artists yet. However, I think that it is surely a wonderful group show. I am planning to go to LA at the opening, so I’m looking forward to seeing the exhibits.

 

 

Interview with Jolene Lai for “Elysium”

Los Angeles-based artist and illustrator Jolene Lai’s stunning new pieces for the group exhibition Elysium continues to showcase her rich use of oil and velvety color palate. The intricate details within her composition is weaved a world of whimsy and melancholy.  Our interview with Jolene Lai discusses her post-show rituals, creative process, and desire to have a mini-Lai.

Join us for the opening of Elysium Saturday, November 10th from 6 pm to 9 pm

SH: What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? What ideas or themes were you exploring?

JL: Mostly slivers of childhood and what it is like looking back at them from the perspective of someone all grown up. I’m portraying a certain sense of nostalgia through the juxtaposition of these two perspectives.

Key Keeper

SH: How do you approach developing a new body of work and capture ideas for pieces; do you have a sketchbook on hand or is it just a note to yourself in your phone?

JL: Sketchbook scribbles on phone, post-it notes, mental notes – I have done them all. Lately, I have been thinking about using a little voice recorder to document my thoughts like Agent Cooper in Twin Peaks.

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

JL: I like the challenge of telling new stories and subject matters with images I have yet to attempt to paint.

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

JL: I need noise in the background when I work — it weirdly helps me stay focus on what I am painting. I end up spending a significant amount of time in the morning before I start work looking for a show that I can follow without looking at the screen but that is still entertaining enough. I have tried music and audible books, but find that actual dialogues between people much more soothing to listen to when I paint.

Lost and Found

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?

JL: ‘Key Keeper’. There were several elements within this piece that was challenging. There was a fair bit of fine work put into painting the ornamental frame. I wanted the bell jar to have some reflection but not too much that it might take away the presence of the key, so I paid close attention to that. I also experimented with various compositions and perspectives to see how I might best display the little girl in the bell jar and still have her environment complement her size well.

It’s a tiny 12 by 12-inch painting, but it involved an extensive amount of exploration and pre-planning before achieving all those intricate details and elements I have never attempted in previous works.

SH: Who is an artist; musician, director, any art form – who would be a dream collaboration for you and what would you create?

JL: The lovely band Cigarettes After Sex. I love their music! Would be kind of cool and refreshing to come up with an art installation specially created for their music and used as a backdrop for an on-stage performance by the band.

The Key

SH: Has there been someone or some event that has made a significant impact on you that lead you to where you are now? An artistic catalyst of sorts?

JL: In a weird way, Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ which I read while I was in art school. It left a strange macabre feeling in me about painting portraits. While I do paint human figures, there’s something about painting faces that I still feel uneasy about. In my earlier years as an artist, I tried to overcome this eccentricity by painting mannequin-like figures. One might also observe elusive characters within some of my later and even recent paintings that are portrayed with hidden faces.

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?

JL: I don’t own anything fancy, to be honest. So one would expect to find basic synthetic hair brushes and a variety of painting products from brands that range from Golden, Liquitex, Winsor & Newton to Utrecht. I wish there was an extra me in the studio. That way, I could just dictate what it is that should be done with my little pinky while comfortably sipping an Arnold Palmer in bed.

Nightingale

SH: After a show what do you do? Do you take a long break, vacation, a particular ritual? Tell us.

JL: It might be a week of doing nothing after I have put together a large collection of artworks. But it is generally a lot of walking and exploring in my neighborhood after a solo show.

I used to get yummy Japanese ramen after an exhibition (be it solo or group). But since the waistline has gotten ‘comfy’ over the years, that has become a tougher ritual to keep. I tried to change the ritual to healthy jogging, but to date, that has only successfully occurred once.

SH: In one or two words, tell us something that you really like or resonates with you about the work of each artist in Elysium. 

JL: I think one of the really cool things about ‘Elysium’ is that it is an exhibition that puts forth bold and beautiful facets of women created from the perspectives of female artists. Each artist is stylistically distinct and very sound technique-wise and unique in the kind of narrative they choose to tell.

 

Lauren Brevner’s “Menagerie” in the Project Room November 10th – November 24th

Lauren Brevner – Menagerie

Opening Reception:
THIS Saturday, November 10 from 6-9PM in our project room

Born and raised in Vancouver, BC, Lauren Brevner grew up in a mixed-heritage family rich with culture and inspiration. In 2009, she moved to Osaka, Japan in hopes of reconnecting with her roots. There, Lauren had the honor of apprenticing under renowned artist, Sin Nakayamal. It was through her mentor that she first began her work as an artist. Nakayamal was the inspiration that sparked her journey to self-taught fruition.

The composition of her paintings explore mixed-media through the use of oil, acrylic, and resin. This unique technical style is combined with a collage of Japanese chiyogami, yuzen, and washi paper on wooden panels. Her influence originates from the stylistic elements of traditional Japanese art and culture. She aspires to reinvent the eloquent tradition of using gold and silver leaf in art.

Lauren’s paintings primarily involve the interpretation of female portraiture. She plays with polychromatic layers; the figures within it existing in surreal and isometric spheres. The women embody strength and femininity through sombre silence. Their gaze a myriad narrative. Lauren Brevner seeks to create a commentary on the subject of women and their depiction in art throughout the ages. Her portrayal of women serves to empower rather than objectify: a reflection of the vitality of sensuality over sexuality.

The New Vanguard II at MOAH Lancaster

This past weekend The New Vanguard II opened at The Lancaster Museum of Art and History, in collaboration with Los Angeles’ Thinkspace Projects. The museum exhibition includes a dynamic group exhibition of works by international artists working in the New Contemporary art movement, with featured solo projects by artists Sandra Chevrier, Seth Armstrong, Craig ‘Skibs’ Barker, and Brooks Salzwedel.

Thank you to the awesome community of Antelope Valley who came out and celebrate these talented artists who are defining the new contemporary art space.

The exhibition is on view now through December 30th.

Full Gallery After the Jump

Continue reading The New Vanguard II at MOAH Lancaster

Interview with Josh Keyes for “The Tempest”

The powerful work of Josh Keyes demand pause. His hyperrealistic paintings have captured a metaphorical idea of what our not so distant future would reflect which graphically straddles the line of science-fiction, fantasy, or merely a grim prediction of the path our civilization is on today.  In our previous interviews with Keyes for his first print drop with Thinkspace (1) and his show last year Implosion (2), we explored a lot about how Keyes has developed as an artist up until now, in our interview with Josh Keyes in anticipation for the Tempest we continue to explore the evolution of his creative process and a few reflections on his relationship to time.

Join us for the opening reception of  Tempest this Saturday, October 13th from 6 pm to 9 pm.

SH: What is the inspiration behind the Tempest?

JK: These images emerged from three different sources, all having a common foundation in their emotional resonance. The three sources were political, environmental, and personal.

The political climate is unbearable and most often unbelievable. Initially, I wanted to make paintings about Trump in purgatory, maybe strolling around in his underwear. But after googling his face so many times for reference, I felt ill. Environmental concerns are always present in my work and lately, some of the images I have seen in the news around the world are as bizarre as any post-apocalyptic scenario. From a personal standpoint, being a parent with a daughter has heightened my concern for a sustainable future, and to support and help empower the women in my family and community. One way to address the tortuous landscape unfolding in America is through Myth, dream, and metaphor. I did not want to create literal depiction, , but rather strive to create images that occupy symbolic, lyrical and poetic expression.

SH: How do you approach developing a new body of work?

JK: The only way I can describe my process for developing new ideas is like dreaming with open eyes. I go through a lot of wacky imagery before arriving at a handful of what I feel are illuminating and self-transformative images.

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?

JK: I work with many reference images, my sketchbook is mostly filled with writing, single word ideas or concepts.

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

JK: I suppose I wish I had more time, I have so many ideas that I would like to paint, sometimes I wonder if I should have been a filmmaker since so many of the images in my mind constantly move.

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?

JK: Siren speaks to all of these ideas on a couple levels. The statue of the angel, standing against the oncoming storm, slowly engulfed by waves, sounds a trumpet. Is it a siren? and alarm, or is it a call for help? Is it a call for environmental or political action? She stands alone, will she ever be heard. The testimony and stories of so many women who have been abused makes me rage. I see this woman in the water as a beacon, a lighthouse, a call to humanity, and the storm moving in, the shadow of the dark side of masculinity, the shadow, that for many men is their guiding light.

SH: Who is an artist; musician, director, any art form – who would be a dream collaboration for you and what would you create?

JK: I tend to think of my paintings like cinematic moments from a film, what film I don’t know, there are so many incredible filmmakers out there. Maybe working with a filmmaker would open up a new way of expressing this imagery. To be honest, some of the more recent paintings feel like perfume or cologne commercials to me. You know the ones that are over the top with a surreal environment, and then just a whisper, “Tempest, for men”

SH: Has there been someone or some event that has made a significant impact on you that lead you to where you are now? An artistic catalyst of sorts?

JK: I seem to always go back to a performance art professor I had at the Chicago Art Institute, Lynn Book. Her unique view of the world and how we perceive the world broke me apart and allowing me to rebuild the world in a way that made sense to me.

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?

JK: My kneejerk reaction would be to go back and catch Trump doing something naughty. But if I could not interfere or change the event, like, you know, why in hell would I go back in time to observe that rascal. I suppose parenting has made me interested in how my own parents raised me, why I am such a freak. I would go back in time and observe my parents when they were raising me and my sister, and perhaps understand, empathize, and forgive many of the choices they made, as very young parents. I am not suggesting they were bad parents, but I am amazed at how much parenting has changed since the 1970’s!

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

JK: Keep on making, I see it as a continuation, like a wiggly string of dreams.

SH: If you could be a character in any movie for a day; who would you be in what film and why?

JK: Father Karras from the Exorcist. There are times when I wrestle with my own shadow and demons. For me, this conflict or collision is often an area where aesthetic inspiration comes from. Personifying fear or transforming it into a symbol or form is one way of working with and through the experience. I suppose the difference for me is, the shadow or demon is never truly exorcized and abolished, it is part of the self and has to be regulated and integrated in a healthy way, a restoration of inner balance.