Interview with Jana & Js for “Fragments of Memories” at Fullerton Museum Center

This Summer, Thinkspace Projects, is proud to present Jana & Js at the Fullerton Museum Center in Fullerton, CA. Their latest body of work Fragments of Memories will be on view from June 30th to August 19th.  Below is our interview with Jana & Js to discuss the inspiration behind Fragments of Memories, their creative process, and the artistic catalyst that lead them to where they are today.

Fragments of Memories opens at the Fullerton Museum Center June 30th.

SH: Tell us about your new works on view at the Fullerton Museum Center this summer. What is the inspiration? What were you exploring in the work?

J&J: “Memories” are 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 on 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 work. We love to think about all the history they possess and use it to mark time passing in our work.

SH: Where do you source inspiration? How do you capture those ideas for pieces; do either of you have a sketchbook on hand or is it just notes to yourselves 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: How do you plan out your compositions? Is there a clear break in who does what between you?

J&J: At the very beginning there was a real separation, Jana used to paint all the portraits, and JS the architectural part of our works. After a while, we completely merged our work. We take the pictures together, cut the stencils together and we are even painting on the canvases at the same time.

A couple of years ago when our first kid was born we started to do some parts of our process more separately. But we still do the basis together: photos, stencils, deciding the background and the composition of a painting.

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 together is amazing. And being able to perpetually share ideas and build 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: How do you approach developing work for an exhibition? Do you immediately jump into work on it, or do you find yourselves procrastinating some?

J&J: When we start to work on a show we usually won’t go to the studio and start to paint immediately. We have a pretty long period of reflexion, exchanging ideas, looking for images and materials… it will take a while before all the elements that will compose a new body of work will find their right place. And when it does, we will start to build the pieces and paint them.

SH: Has there been an artistic catalyst in your lives? Something, someone, some event that made a significant impact on either of you that has lead you to where you both are now.

J&J: What lead us to where we are now is definitely the fact that we met 15 years ago in Madrid, Spain. Before that, we weren’t planning on becoming artists, and since then everything seems so natural that we couldn’t imagine doing something else. If we would name someone, the French artist, Artiste-Ouvrier definitely had a determinant role in the development of our work: both on technical and ethical levels.

The Timeline of Jana & Js:

1981 JS – birth in Paris, France
1985 Jana – birth in Salzburg Austria
2003 Jana and Js meet each other in Madrid, Spain and
live there for a year
2004 Js starts to work with stencils
2005 back in Paris, Js develops the stencil technics with Artiste-Ouvrier
2005 foundation of the collective WCA (Working Class Artists)
2005 Jana studies Art History at the University of Vienna, Austria
2006 Jana comes to live in Paris, Jana & Js are starting
to work together as a duo
2007 first show with the name as Jana & Js
2008 Jana & Js move to Salzburg, Austria.
Jana studies Multimedia Art at the University of
applied sciences in Salzburg 2012 birth of their son
2014 birth of their daughter

Austrian and French street artists Jana & Js are painting together since 2006. The pair creates polychromed stencil murals widely ranging in size. Based primarily on their personal photographic work, the stencils seem to respond and interact with their surroundings. Mostly inspired by the city and people living in, their paintings merge urban landscape or architecture details with portrait, questioning the place of human being in the modern cities. Inspired by the place where they put their work they now focus on nostalgia, melancholy.

After spending some time in Madrid, Spain where they met and living a couple of years in Paris, Jana & Js are now settled in Salzburg – Austria. To display their works, they choose old materials that are showcasing the passing of physical time and history. They have made their art in unexpected spaces by printing stencils on public infrastructure or on the semi-finished/dismantled products/spaces such as the train tracks, old buildings, poles, pieces of concrete, old trucks, wood piles…

They are deeply inspired by every place they travel to, deciphering the social meaning in unforeseen aspects of urban landscapes. But what is the most striking part in their works are not panoramas themselves, but people with their existential uneasiness. They have the unique way of relating people, their emotions, desires, and concerns with their environment. Their urban interventions merge their subjects with the environment, provoking thoughts and engaging the viewers in an artistic dialogue.

 

Interview with Alvaro Naddeo for “AmeriCan’t”

Thinkspace is proud to present our third exhibition AmeriCan’t with Brazillian born and Los Angeles-based artist Alvaro Naddeo in the project room. Naddeo’s watercolors combine textures and edges in compositional amalgams. His interest in the life of the unassuming object extends to billboards and signage, cast away containers and boxes, and domestic and industrial spaces, conjoined and superimposed in unexpected mashups, or cultural relics that speak of use and disposal in the contemporary city.  In anticipation of AmeriCan’t, our interview with Alvaro Naddeo discusses the shows inspiration, his creative process, and what it feels like leading up to the opening reception.

Join us for the opening of “AmeriCan’t”, Saturday, June 30th from 6 to 9 pm.

SH: Tell us about this show. What is the inspiration? What were you exploring in the work?

AN: The inspiration for this show comes from my desire to create something where I’m able to mix memories with textures of the places I’ve been while at the same time making a social and political commentary on our society. AmeriCan’t is about the marginalized, the minorities, those who can see and smell everything good that America has but never allowed to get there.

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

AN: Ideas appear at random times, and usually is just a piece of an idea, only one of the elements that I want to use not the whole painting. I don’t have a sketchbook, so I usually make some really rough sketches on post-it notes. Later, when I’m ready to start a new painting, I go through the small rough notes and combine a few of them.

SH: How do you plan out your compositions?

AN: My compositions are the result of many back and forths between some rudimentary 3D shapes, Photoshop, Illustrator and rough sketches. I may start with a pencil sketch, scan it, get a shape on 3D, draw over it, then move it to Photoshop and Illustrator where I make sure the perspectives and proportion of the elements are as good as I can have them, by this point I’m able to move to the paper and start painting. Only at that stage is when I create textures and also when I add light and shadows.

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

AN: The part that I enjoy the most is painting, pushing the watercolor on paper. It is a mix of a lot of freedom, letting it randomly and organically move and settle, while at the same time trying to control it and make it exactly what I would like it to do.

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

AN: Usually, nothing, sometimes the fact that watercolor doesn’t allow to fix most mistakes.

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

AN: I would like to be Ferris Bueller and take a day off.

SH: How do you approach developing work for an exhibition? Do you immediately jump into work on it, or are you more of a procrastinator?

AN: My production is more or less constant, independent if I have shows scheduled or not. Obviously having a deadline for a show scares me with the idea of not having enough to show, so I push my productivity a little more. I may be a little slower if I don’t have a deadline but I’m never not doing or thinking of a painting, I’m constantly producing something.

SH: What is your Meyers-Briggs or Zodiac Sign? Does it influence your work / artistic process?

AN: My Myers-Briggs, if I remember correctly was: Introvert, Thinking, but the other two letters were not well defined I was pretty much in the middle between them. I’m a Gemini and neither of those things has any influence over my work.

SH: Can you explain what it feels likes to anticipate the opening of your exhibition, the opening night?

AN: It’s really exciting, it’s an amazing feeling to have all your work hanging on those walls and having people looking and talking to you about them. The production part is very lonely, so the show is a rare opportunity to get feedback. Also when I’m done with a painting I just store it, so when a show is up is also a chance for me to look again at work that I’ve done a few months before and that I may have forgotten about them a bit. It is a good opportunity to have a fresh look at them, almost like looking at something I didn’t paint myself.

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.

AN: Yes, quitting a job in an advertising agency in 2009 was an accidental catalyst. I quit the job at that agency, even before getting a new one because I believed I wasn’t being paid fairly. While I looked for a new job in another advertising agency, I focused on not being too lazy, so I created a few tasks to keep myself creatively busy, for example, I started drawing anything every day. Soon I got a new job but I kept drawing, Those unpretentious drawings slowly progressed and became my watercolor paintings a couple of years later.

Interview with Wiley Wallace for “Stay Connected”

Thinkspace is proud to present Phoenix-born painter Wiley Wallace’s upcoming body of work Stay Connected, alongside Juan Travieso in the gallery’s main room. Wallace combines realistic renderings with elements of the surreal, and near-magical references that include eerily cast light sources bordering on the supernatural.  In anticipation of Stay Connected, our interview with Wiley Wallace discusses the shows inspiration, his creative process, and the childhood catalyst that lead to the adult artists.

Join us for the opening of “Stay Connected”, Saturday, June 30th from 6 to 9 pm.

SH: Tell us about this show. What is the inspiration? What were you exploring in the work?

WW: The show is called ‘Stay Connected’. There were a lot of sources of inspiration for this new series of paintings. Some of those sources are really hard to put into words, but a clear source is my kids; how they experience technology, movies, books, holidays. Trying to see the way things are today through my children’s eyes. The world today seems equal parts fascinating and frightening. It’s also exploring how to tell a story, but keeping that story open-ended, using symbols that are loaded, but ambiguous enough that there can be several interpretations.

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

WW: I draw in a sketchbook a good amount. I take a lot of photos of my kids on our family adventures.

SH: How do you plan out your compositions?

WW: After creating source material, I then piece everything together and layout the composition in Photoshop and Cinema 4D. Once I feel like the composition is telling a story, then I’ll try to paint it.

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

WW: I really like painting. I like the process of painting. I enjoy sitting and listening to music, or an audiobook or podcast and the feeling of making something simultaneously. Being able to zone out and create something feels amazing.

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

WW: Nothing really. It’s fun.

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

WW: Not a parent from a Disney movie.

SH: How do you approach developing work for an exhibition? Do you immediately jump into work on it, or are you more of a procrastinator?

WW: We have 3 kids, so I schedule the time months in advance. There has to be a very specific calendar with mini-deadlines that help get to the next point.

SH: What is your Meyers-Briggs or Zodiac Sign? Does it influence your work / artistic process?

WW: I’m a Cancer sign. I guess I like being quiet and at home, creating when I can. I’ve never done a Meyers-Briggs test.

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.

WW: I grew up in a mom & pop sign shop. My parents spent all day making, painting, and installing signs. Me and my brother were always down there, making and painting stuff in a big industrial work space. We would build things, play with paint, make messes. Sometimes we got to pitch in and help my parents on jobs. Growing up in that environment had a significant impact on me.

Interview with David Rice for “Hanging Valley”

Thinkspace is proud to present Portland-based artists, illustrator, and designer David Rice’s upcoming exhibition Hanging Valley in the project room. As a realist painter, Rice composes a juxtaposition of elements to create a visual universe that is a fantasy and experiment.  In anticipation of Hanging Valley, our interview with David Rice discusses the shows inspiration, his creative process, and post-show rituals.

Join us for the opening of “Hanging Valley”, 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?

DR: My new show, “Hanging Valley,” was a chance to expand on ideas and narratives that I have been building over the last few years. Each painting in this series represents a piece of my own introspection, portrayed through various subjects. These paintings cover a wide range of themes: self-doubt, confidence, the way we experience time, and other elements that fill my head on a day to day basis. I wanted to explore these themes through different lenses, while also giving the viewer something they may not expect to see from me.

SH: What 3 websites do you check every day or people you follow on social media?

DR: I don’t know if I have an everyday website routine, outside of just checking my email and watching Netflix. I do love to periodically check in on a few of my favorite art blogs: Hifructose.com, Juxtapoz.com, booooooom.com, supersonicart.com, platinumcheese.com

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

DR: What excites me about my work is the broad range of subjects and themes I choose to paint. Although I may be categorized by some people as an environmental painter, I try not to put all my focus on one subject. Instead, my work covers many different ideas, landscapes, and characters. This leaves me free to paint whatever creeps into my mind, not being held back by an audience that expects me to stick to one thing.

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

DR: I get frustrated by just about every step in my creative process. I am constantly evaluating every decision. As much of a dream come true it is to create a body of work, it can be extremely difficult to translate your ideas down on canvas. Every element – size, color, etc, has an effect on the impact of the final piece. It is a lot of trial and error, emphasis on the error. I put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself. It’s something I am still working on, but it is getting a little easier to ignore the self-doubt and keep pushing through.

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

DR: After a show, I always plan on taking a few days to regroup and relax, however, I usually put off so many other projects while I am doing the body of work for the show, I have a stack of things I am already behind on. I will get a break one day (fingers crossed).

SH: How do you plan out your compositions?

DR: I usually start with a photo I have taken as the jumping off point for my compositions. Then I just start to think about what I would want to see in the picture. I have always been a big daydreamer, so my mind just naturally starts playing out little narratives. I then will bring the photo and other references I have gathered into photoshop and illustrator and start to set up the composition. I usually have the piece 75% thought out before I start painting. If I waited till I had it 100% thought out, I would never get anything started. I then paint what I have planned, and let the painting direct the course it wants to go for the final touches, ie. colors, patterns, little additions to help balance the piece.

SH: How often are you in the studio, do you work on the pieces daily or do you have creative spurts with concentrated efforts of work and then long periods of not working?

DR: I am in the studio pretty much every day. I like to do my sketching and designing at home, so I am there about one day a week and the studio the rest of the week.

SH: What do you eat when working on the show? Are you a 3 square meals kind of person, or have snacks on hand?

DR: I usually have a big meal before heading to the studio. Then I just snack while I am there, trying not to take too many breaks while I paint. Then usually a small meal when I get home at the end of the day.

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?

DR: Oh man, that is a tough question. One of my favorite bands is Alt-J and I feel like their music is on a similar trajectory as my work. They can’t really be put into one category and you never know what their next album is going to sound like.

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.

DR: My family has been incredibly encouraging of my career in art. Since I was a child, my parents have been nothing but supportive of my artistic endeavors. My older brother Andrew was a huge influence on me. He is an artist as well and growing up, I just wanted to follow in his footsteps.

A large turning point for me was when I met up with artist Blaine Fontana in 2013 and began an intensive internship with him. I had never really painted before I met him, and over the next year, he threw me into the fire. Blaine is a true Jack of all Trades, and together we worked on gallery pieces, large commercial paintings, murals, sculptures, design work, and a ton of other projects with varying mediums. Blaine was an invaluable resource in helping get my career off the ground and I am extremely lucky and grateful for the lessons he passed on to me.

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?

DR: I mostly work in acrylic. I like Golden paints, but there isn’t just one brand I am loyal to. The colors I use the most are titanium white, mars black, yellow ochre/oxide, raw umber, burnt sienna, raw sienna, cad red, primary cyan. I destroy brushes fairly easily, so I try not to get the super fancy brands. I have a few nice flat brushes and varnish brushes, and then I will often buy the cheap pack of six small brushes from the art store for like $8. They usually last me two paintings.

I share a studio with two other artists so together we pretty much have everything one would need. Maybe a beer tap in our kitchen area would be a nice addition.

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?

DR: f I had a time machine for a day, I would either go way-way back and spend the day with some dinosaurs, see how close our depictions of them are. Or, I would go into the future and see exactly when we can expect to get our hover cars.

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.