Interview with Kathy Ager for “Golden Age” opening June 29th

Thinkspace is pleased to present Vancouver-based artist Kathy Ager’s debut solo exhibition Golden Age. Ager creates detailed, still lifes that feel simultaneously Baroque and acerbically modern. Inspired by the 17th-Century Golden Age of Dutch and Spanish painting, her imagery uses historical visual rhetoric to deliver intensely personal and emotively charged themes. A professional graphic designer-turned painter, this is Ager’s first complete body of work to date and will include ten new paintings.

In anticipation of Golden Age our interview with Kathy Ager discusses her artistic background, creative process, and desired love interest in a movie about her life.

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? 

KA: I haven’t been at it for long – I’m a late bloomer for sure! I’m originally a graphic designer from Vancouver BC, focussing mainly on corporate branding. I still like working as a designer but there came a point where I felt I had more to say and was frustrated by the limits of graphic design. I’d been living in Amsterdam for a few years and found myself feeling sick and lonely and far from home. That’s when I picked up painting for the first time since design school. I’d always been drawn to painting and creating in general, but this was the first time I started finding my own voice. I’d work on paintings in my spare time between freelance design work, making only a couple of paintings a year. Things really started rolling when I dropped myself into Lisbon for a couple of months, just to see how it would feel. It was the first time I’d showed up in a new place as an artist, not a graphic designer. I met some amazing artists who became the first champions of my work. I’m not sure if I’d have had the strength to keep going with it if it wasn’t for that experience. Life in Amsterdam had become a lonely struggle for me and painting became my life raft. Sometimes I felt it was all I had, but it felt powerful and super satisfying being able to evoke something in others through the images I’d create, inspired by my loneliness, heartache, music, books, and my endless curiosity for love and life and truth.

Did I mention I’m a Sagittarius? Apparently, we’re forever seeking adventure and the truth. Honesty above all else! In my paintings, I lay it all out there, just like I do with those who know me. I’m not comfortable unless I can truly talk about how I feel. I want people to be in on my life and I want to be in on theirs. There’ve been stretches in my life where I’ve felt like an astronaut floating in space, so far out there but not sure how to get back, and maybe this vulnerability and honesty is how I anchor myself in this universe and connect to others. My paintings have become a powerful way to do that.

SH: How do you approach starting a new body of work? What inspired this exhibition?

KA: This is the first coherent body of work I’ve produced. In the last couple of years, I’ve established a visual language and a few key elements that felt good to me. While working on these latest paintings I was able to keep that language consistent while drawing in elements from my own life and those from traditional still life paintings. I’m always amazed by how objects can be used to express such human emotions. I’ve been inspired directly by my personal life – especially love and heartbreak and the loneliness in between – and the need to grasp onto something solid in this transient world.

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.

KA: Definitely, the most challenging piece for me was ‘An Immovable Feast’. It’s the largest piece in the exhibition and also the last piece I completed. All of my paintings are deeply personal, so working on each painting means facing those feelings for as long as it takes to complete that painting. The size of this one felt like three paintings in one and felt like the final painting addressing some lingering heartache that inspired quite a lot of my current work. I didn’t feel up to the task. I’m amazed that I was able to push through a lot of self-doubt and shifts in my personal life and still create something I’m proud of. I definitely needed some encouragement from friends who stopped me from setting it on fire or throwing it out the window. LOL!

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

KA: I get such a kick out of what I do. I feel so deeply and to be able to translate that into something visually powerful has been transformative. It’s like solving a problem. If the solution makes me laugh out loud while also strumming just the right chord in me, I know I got it right. 

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

KA: It’s solitary work. I need to hear myself think and that happens best when I’m alone, doing nothing. Which is hard since my inspiration comes from the opposite – it comes from going deep with people and life. And the production phase is especially a solitary endeavor, sitting for hours, days, weeks in the studio. It’s not glamorous. It’s been the biggest challenge for me for sure. My need for connection is strong, so I’ve been learning how to ensure I’m getting what I need while maintaining my creative process. Returning to Vancouver after living in Europe for 9 years has been a huge help.

SH: If you could make the album art for any album, existing or yet to be released, what album or artists would it be for and why? 

KA: A Drake album! Damn, it would be a dream. I love how he goes so deep and dark and is so open with his insecurities and his search to understand the actions of himself and others. When Scorpion came out, it was a hot summer in Amsterdam. There you’re so far north, the daylight lingers until almost midnight. I’d sit in my apartment in the heat, in that deep blue light of the night, and listen to this album. Oof. What a time. I’d love to create something for that depth and darkness and glory. 

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

KA: I love the idea of something like ‘Peaches N Cream’. Like my work, it takes things that are seemingly innocent, but the implication of their combination can be twisted into something much more provocative. 

SH: A Netflix movie is being made about your life, who would be cast to play you and what kind of movie would it be? Try to describe it with similar movies. 

KA:  I’d be lying if I said this scenario hadn’t crossed my mind before. First off, I’m not great at following celebrity actors, so I’d love a new, break through actor to play me (although Ryan Gosling would definitely be welcome to play a love interest). In terms of what kind of movie it would be, I’d say the running themes and significant moments in my life have been the search for love and adventure, the beautifully lonely self-discovery of travel, days and nights with friends and lovers that made me nostalgic for the moments while I was still in them. And underlying it all, a deep feeling of loss and fear and sadness that makes it all so scary and painful. And yet I’m forever drawn by my curiosity to go for it all, just to know how it feels. Imagine a combination of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Before Sunrise, Skate Kitchen, Lost in Translation. Midnight skates in the heat of Barcelona, the sparkle of beaches on the Costa Brava, the wide open spaces of Northern California. It would be a fucking trip for sure.

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

KA: I think the artist’s role is to be evocative. I get so much inspiration and power from music and books and I think that’s true for all art forms. Making something physical out of feelings and ideas and putting them back out into the world creates the beauty, both light and dark, in the world. 

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

KA: Since this is the first body of work I’ve completed, it was quite emotional. I’m still learning to let myself loose after so much focus and dedication and have been lucky to have some great friends around for support and guidance (and some damn good laughs and adventures 😉

Join us for the opening reception of Kathy Ager’s Golden Age, Saturday, June 29th from 6 – 9 pm.

Interview with Jacub Gagnon for “Dream World” opening June 29th

Thinkspace is proud to present Dream World by Canadian, Toronto-based artist Jacub Gagnon in Dream World. An artist known for the meticulous detail and realism of his luminous acrylic paintings, Gagnon creates a world in which nature and fantasy collide. 

In anticipation of the exhibition, our interview with Jacub Gagnon discusses his creative process, tackles the role of artists in society, and what his work and Spinal Tap have in common.

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? 

I’ve always had a knack for drawing; it was one of my biggest hobbies growing up. I attended OCADU (Ontario College of Art and Design University) in 2005 and fell in love with painting in my second year. Graduating in 2009, with a BFA in ‘Drawing and Painting’ under my belt, I took to creating art for myself and set out to make a career of it. My zodiac sign is Aquarius, the water bearer. I’m not big into astrology but apparently they are artistic, social justice minded, and have a determined nature – I can dig that. 

How do you approach starting a new body of work? What inspired this exhibition?

I always have a little world of ideas living in my sketchbook, many of which often stay hidden until I have a larger show like this and they finally see the light of day. A lot of ideas live in that small sketch land because I like it, but I’m not sure how to put those ideas onto canvas, so having a greater chunk of time to work on a bunch of pieces is a great opportunity to finally flesh some of them out. I had a new approach for this show, which was to get the ball rolling on as many ideas as I could right at the beginning. That was a real challenge, as it turned out. 

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

“In Bloom,” hands down was the greatest challenge. The sheer size alone (my largest piece to date) meant not only was I trying to fill a large canvas, but I also chose to fill it with tiny things. In addition, I have this habit of turning and flipping a piece that I’m working on, and I physically wasn’t able to do that with this one. The obstacle didn’t occur to me when I first started the piece, but it made a huge impact on how I was able to work on it.  Apart from size, I also did a lot of editing and made revisions to this piece as it was coming to life (again, not something I normally do) – overlapping plants, figuring out where shadows fell, balancing colour… I found myself coming back to this piece over and over again, adding here and taking away there. I worked on this piece periodically for over a year before it was finished. 

What excites you about your work / creative process?

I love the feeling of a new idea. I get very excited about them. It just kind of hits you and you’re suddenly full of vigor and life, I write them down in my phone or quite literally run to get my sketchbook and record it before I forget it with my goldfish brain. I also love the process of overcoming challenges. So those ideas I mentioned above that live in my sketchbook for so long, the moment I figure out how to bring them to fruition is quite rewarding. It propels you to finish the piece. When a piece like that is finished, it’s kind of like seeing an old friend that had been away for years.  

What frustrates you about your work / the creative process?

A big frustration I have is with the time it takes to finish a painting; it can be quite the marathon. I’ve tried to change my painting style in the past to be a little less tight and a little more forgiving, but I’m not usually happy with my work until it is ‘just so’. Often timelines that I make for myself to complete a section of the painting are overshot by days or weeks and it’s not for a lack of time spent working…but trying to appease my OCD sensibilities. 

If you could make the album art for any album, existing or yet to be released, what album or artists would it be for and why?

That’s a tough one, maybe The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Not my favorite Beatles album…but just thinking of it gives me so many ideas and I think I could have a lot of fun reinventing it.

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

I’d call it Ripple Effect. You can pick your base of vanilla or chocolate and add some bright floral flavours, cruelty-free delicacies, and maybe a hint of bourbon. It’s probably going to be served in a teacup.

A Netflix movie is being made about your life, who would be cast to play you and what kind of movie would it be? Try to describe it with similar movies.  

Definitely Andy Samberg would be cast to play me and it would be a mockumentary. It would be akin to “This is Spinal Tap”…I can see it now, “There’s something about this that’s so black, it’s like how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black.” (quote from the movie that I feel sums up a lot about my work). It’s not a movie, but I think it would also have similarities to the show “The Office”, a bit quirky and mundane at times, but it’s all part of the charm. If budget was of no consequence I’d probably have Morgan Freeman do some narrating,  give it a Shawshank feel.

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

That’s a big question to unpack. I have a lot to say, but I’ll try to keep it short. It’s easy to take art for granted. I think people tend not to notice the way art impacts their everyday life – it’s printed on our clothes, it’s the colours of our homes, our cars, it’s the way we design our spaces and every item within them. It turns our stark environment into a personal and relatable one.  And yes, at times it can also be a voice and a spotlight to provide commentary and highlight something to the world, which is what I try to do with my art. Artists have a strange dichotic reputation. Either they’re these huge icons or they’re lowly, scraping by, but those are just two small facets… like so many things, you just can’t pigeonhole who we are in society. 

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


Spending time with my family! I’ve spent the past several months tucked away in my studio, so now that work for the show is wrapped up I’m looking forward to all the little things that I’ve been missing out on. I imagine I’ll crack open a few nice bottles of whiskey, and get as much sleep as two tiny humans will let me before I’m beckoned.

Join us for the opening reception of Jacub Gagnon’s Dream World, Saturday, June 29th from 6 – 9 pm.

Interview with Rodrigo Luff for “After Glow”

Thinkspace is proud to present After Glow featuring new paintings and works on paper by Rodrigo Luff. Luff’s personally inflected figurative works blend realism and fantasy, recombining the edges of the probable with the incandescence of daydream. 

In anticipation of After Glow, our interview with Rodrigo Luff discusses the highs and lows of the creative process and the piece that was most challenging for him.

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

RL: I studied at the Julian Ashton Art School in Sydney, Australia from 2006-09 where I learned life drawing and first started to catch the painting bug!

In April/May 2011, I had my first two solo exhibitions in the U.S, one of them being the Moleskine Project at Spoke Art Gallery which sold out. Since then, it has become an annual group exhibition that I co-curate with Spoke Art and we’ve published two volumes of books compiling Moleskine artwork from the exhibitions. We just had our 8th annual show!

I’ve been regularly exhibiting with Thinkspace Projects since 2012 and have developed my style of blending the natural world with surreal imagination through these shows. Afterglow marks the third solo show here and has given me the chance to take my work to the next level and show some larger and more complex depth paintings.

SH: How do you approach starting a new body of work? What inspired this exhibition?

RL: My goal was to take the style and techniques I developed in my previous 2016 “Nemeta” solo exhibition at Thinkspace to the next level with more ambitious paintings.

I’m inspired by the phenomena of radiant lighting effects that are observed in the natural world around me. I recently had the chance to see glow worms in the Australian forest and they have been incorporated into my paintings. Another example would be the afterglow of warm sunlight spilling outwards after sunset (as the title suggests) and the misty morning sunrises back home in the local blue gum forest. All of these experiences have shaped the visual themes and color palette in this new exhibition.

I hope my work will inspire some folks out there to go for a walk in the forest, experience the beauty of the natural world, as well as getting away from social media of course!

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?

RL: The painting with the deer was inspired by this beautiful pond along a hiking trail which is located within walking distance from my old home in Sydney, Australia. I always enjoy the view there and for the past few years, I’ve had this vision for a painting of a model on that rock during the early morning hours with the pond behind her and mist that is burned away by the morning sun. I finally hired a model and we hiked the trail so we’d arrive around 7.30 am, the best time for natural light and I shot the reference photos that day. The challenge was to take that reference, find the best photo that worked with my idea and blends it with my imagination to achieve that initial vision. I didn’t want to just copy a photo but transform it into a new mythological realm with its own inhabitants.

Once I had the photo, I had to add the mist, owls, and deer and make them part of this new world I was creating. One of the biggest challenges was getting those reflections to work with the forest and the deer, as well as trying to make the fur look like it was glistening and soaked from being in the pond. I also wanted to create a sense of movement and life by adding flying owls in the background and showing the ripples in the water being pushed by the deer walking forward in the pond.

It took about 2 months to finish. I’m proud of this piece because I found a place that had a lot of memories and personal meaning from my Australian home and blended it with these imaginal elements to create a new mythological realm that I could share with others.

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

RL: I like taking the time to paint all the luscious details of natural environments, such as the individual shapes of leaves, trees, and rocks and contrasting that with the otherworldly glow of supernatural creatures.

I want to create environments that feel “hyperreal”, like you could almost step foot into the painting like a lucid dream.

I also love painting the various personalities of owls, birds, and animals!

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

RL: The long hours it takes to make all these vivid details come to life. As William Blake said, “singular and particular detail is the foundation of the sublime” and I believe that because the natural world can create an abundance of beautiful, intricate shapes to a level that the human imagination can’t recreate by itself. The amount of careful observation it takes to be faithful to what the eye sees is a slow and painful process, but it’s worth it.

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

RL: I learn the most from those who spend the time to master their craft and develop a unique aesthetic. I’m inspired by the incredible talent out there today and always feel like I’m a complete noob when scrolling through my Instagram feed. It makes me realize how little I know about painting and how much there is to learn.

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

RL: Spending time with my wife to make up for the long hours lost at the easel, going to the beach and finding some good hiking trails. It’s also going to be great to attend the opening night and having the chance to meet the people who made the effort to show up and see the work in person, which means a lot to me

Join us for the opening of Rodrigo Luff’s After Glow, Saturday, June 29th from 6 to 9 pm.

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NEW EDITIONS ONLINE FROM SLINKACHU and JAUNE THIS FRIDAY…

SLINKACHU
“All Natural”
5.5 × 13.5 × .5 inches | 14 × 34 × 1 cm
$1,200 

Multiple layers of UV ink on acrylic
Edition of 7, with signed and numbered certificate
NOTE: Due to the transparent nature of these works, a signature would detract from the aesthetics

Comes with mounting hardware that floats the piece off the wall to provide depth and a slight shadow (see example below). They came out incredible

Available for immediate purchase via our online shop this Friday, June 14 at 10 AM Pacific (Los Angeles) / 1 PM Eastern (NYC): https://shop.thinkspaceprojects.com

SLINKACHU
“Every Drop” 
3.5 × 16.5 × .5 inches | 9 × 42 × 1 cm
$1,200 

Multiple layers of UV ink on acrylic 
Edition of 7 with signed and numbered certificate
NOTE: Due to the transparent nature of these works, a signature would detract from the aesthetics

Comes with mounting hardware that floats the piece off the wall to provide depth and a slight shadow (see example below). They came out incredible. 

Available for immediate purchase via our online shop this Friday, June 14 at 10 AM Pacific (Los Angeles) /1 PM Eastern (NYC):
https://shop.thinkspaceprojects.com

SLINKACHU
“La Vida Mas Fina (The Finest Life)” 
3.5 × 16 × .5 inches | 9 × 41 × 1 cm
$1,200 

Multiple layers of UV ink on acrylic 
Edition of 7 with signed and numbered certificate
NOTE: Due to the transparent nature of these works, a signature would detract from the aesthetics

Comes with mounting hardware that floats the piece off the wall to provide depth and a slight shadow (see example below). They came out incredible. 

Available for immediate purchase via our online shop this Friday, June 14 at 10 AM Pacific (Los Angeles) / 1 PM Eastern (NYC): https://shop.thinkspaceprojects.com


Sample install view / they look incredible once installed on your wall

JAUNE
“Portraits”
Aerosol on miniature canvas with easel
2×2 inches / 5×5 cm
$200 each 

Edition of 9 portraits / each unique 

Available for immediate purchase via our online shop this Friday, June 14 at 10 AM Pacific (Los Angeles) / 1 PM Eastern (NYC): https://shop.thinkspaceprojects.com

Interview with Jaune for “Trash Talk”

Thinkspace is proud to present Trash Talk featuring new works by internationally renowned artists and street interventionists, Jaune, from Belgium, and Slinkachu, from the UK. Both critically acclaimed artists work on an atypical miniaturist scale, especially given the monumental standard demanded of public art in the deafening context of the city. Jaune and Slinkachu both challenge this paradigm of scale while incorporating the city’s refuse and garbage into their imagery as materials and themes.

In anticipation of Trash Talk, our interview with Jaune discusses his collaboration with Slinkachu, the role of artists in society, and what the perfect day outside of the studio would look like.

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.

JU: Actually not one piece in particular but the whole exhibition as I always try to bring my work one step further, so it’s an all-new generation of works, I followed the same way I started to build for the previous shows but trying to change what I “disliked”. Like my stencils, my pieces are multi-layered but I always had the problem that the final result was quite heavy (visually) to make everything hold together, but this time, without taking out that multi layer effect, I could get to a visual light result, which obviously is really satisfying for me

SH: How do you approach starting a new body of work? Walk us through the process of a piece from conception to completion.

JU: All my stencils are cut at the same scale, which makes every character, element or whatever able to be combined with any other one to create each time a new story made of the same element. A bit like when we speak, we use a limited range of vocabulary, only the position of the word in the sentence and how we accord them together make a new story.

So my challenge is to make something new and fresh with something I already used. Then I only need to create few new stencils, I don’t only create those stencil but an almost limitless number of possible new stories by combining with all the previous stencils.

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

JU: New projects, new places, new people!

The very roots of my work were born in Brussels, full of what we could call a kind of Belgian spirit: humour with self-derision and a bit of stupid nonsense. I was really curious to discover if that point which seems to me really local could work as well in other places with people that don’t specifically know this kind of work.

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

JU: Not many things actually, as I’m the only architect of my work, I try to make it only pleasant to me, trying to turn any difficulties or problem into a challenge to grow or a new adventure, any bad situation has a bright side!

The only point that could bother me seriously is when people use my work to promote themselves, without asking me any permission, what for them is a cool stuff to use, for me it’s a life’ work, then I’m really protective to it.

SH: What has the collaborative process been like with Slinkachu / Jaune? 

JU: A game! To me, it has been like a game! Inspiration, ideas, and creativity is my/our daily job if I can say it that way, create new projects, new ideas have really become a natural process, then making some work with an other artist, so an other universe, is like to open a door to on a new world. After that it’s like a ping pong game, one throw an idea, the other come back with his vision, which leads to a direction none of us could have reach alone, it’s really exciting.

SH: Speaking of collaboration, if you could collaborate with any artists (from any art form ie: movies, music, dance etc.) dead or alive who would it be and what would you create?

JU: There are so many artist I would like to collaborate with, actually I have desires to make common work with almost every artist I ever met on festival or on different project, but I can choose who I want, just to keep my humorous direction, I would have loved collaborating with Leonardo Da Vinci, first of all, because I would have left a huge impact on humanity, but mostly because the Mona Lisa would have been funnier with 3 fluo mini guys in the background trying to achieve a pointless job or a bunch of little workers drawn in his codex represented as trying to build his prototype of helicopter, it would just have been fun

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

JU: That’s a tricky question, I’m painting some bin men… I think an ice cream tasting like garbage doesn’t have a big chance to be liked…

My characters are often drinking beers, but I don’t think that an ice cream tasting like beer would be that amazing either, so I guess it would probably taste like a frozen cocktail and it would obviously have 2 fluorescent colours.

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

JU: I don’t think artists have a specific role as we are all singular personalities trying to express something, mostly something deeply personal. And as anyone is free to interpret any artwork following his own vision, it seems complicated to me to imagine artist with a defined role in this multi-directional society, the only point I believe each artist can bring is a different and creative point of view on a situation, which can allow the viewer to make a step back and have a different perspective on what is expressed by the artist, to get out of a daily routine in a way.

SH: What would a perfect day outside of the studio look like for you?

JU: There are 2 possibilities, outside of the studio but still with my stencils: then it would be on a festival in a sunny place, with other artists, having fun doodling some mini dudes everywhere I can.

If it is without my stencils, then it would be probably still in a sunny place, in the middle of nowhere, making a bbq with friends, just chilling!

SH: If you got to live in any movie or book for a day, what would it be? Would you be yourself or one of the characters?

JU: There’s a lot of movie universes I’d like to live in, but they are all pretty dangerous, so I guess living in an anime would be way safer… so I would probably live in the world of Kung Fu Panda for 3 reasons: Kung fu, noodles and humour!