Interview with Lisa Ericson for “Border Crossing”

Thinkspace is pleased to present Border Crossing, featuring new works by Portland-based artist Lisa Ericson. Her meticulous rendered, hyperrealistic paintings are a wonderland where parasitical ecosystems are perched weightlessly on the backs of wildlife and the breathtaking details are a wonderland for the viewer. In anticipation of Border Crossing, our interview with Lisa Ericson discusses the exhibitions challenging work, reincarnation, and how she will be celebrating the completion of this new body of work.

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

SH: What is the inspiration behind the Border Crossing?

LE: A couple different ideas were swimming around together in my mind…migration, immigration, refugees, wildlife corridors. Often I intertwine human & animal inspiration so the final piece can be read as both a human tale or an animal one.

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

LE: I don’t map out the entire thing from the start. I never have more than one or two pieces completely planned at a time. I start with an idea and put together images for the first couple of paintings, but leave space while I’m working on those pieces for the original idea branch out in my mind. One piece leads to the next and so on. I’ve learned to trust that.

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?

LE: I don’t really work in a sketchbook. As ideas pop into my head, I jot them down or do tiny sketches on whatever piece of paper is handy. Bare bones stuff, but a kernel to start from. Later when I start putting together a composite image of a future painting, the idea either flies or dies. But even if it dies, often a new and better idea is born out of it. Some ideas come together quickly. Others I try repeatedly, but I can’t get them to work. Some of those eventually click and become paintings. Some are still just floating around in my head.

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

LE: This question makes me dive right down into my psyche and confront my best/worst qualities. The same thing excites and frustrates me about my process. I start every show at a glacial pace. The first couple paintings take ages to conceptualize and execute. But as the show date come closer and the pressure crystalizes the ideas in my head, I take less and less time from idea to finished piece, I work longer and longer hours until I end at an all-consuming frenzy. After every show, I make promises about pacing myself. I make time charts. But then I repeat the same pattern. Part of me realizes that the pressure is part of what makes me tick, and in some ways, I thrive on it and even enjoy it. But I still try to tell myself I’ll be different the next time around.

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?

LE: I made “Into the Dark” in response to the horror of the policy of separating children from their parents at the U.S. border. A mother lemur’s babies cling to her, the way a human child would, the way my own daughter clings to me. Often when I work, I get lost in the technical aspects of painting – the color, seeing the image take shape brushstroke by brushstroke – but this subject matter was a little raw for me and I felt emotional about it all the way through.

SH: If you were reincarnated as an animal, what do you think you’d come back as and why? Is that the same as what you would want to be reincarnated as?

LE: I think I’d be reincarnated as something wary and shy, and happy to stay in her burrow. No doubt why I do well as a painter, spending long periods of time alone in my studio. But I’d want to be reincarnated as a bird. Because, flight! I have an irrational fear of flying in planes. I still do it, but am always filled with anxiety about it. I’d love to be free of that.

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

LE: I work on small, minutely detailed paintings, but I love murals and art in the public space of all kinds. I’d love to see something of mine in a huge format on a wall or side of a building.

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

LE: First, sleep. Oh, glorious sleep. Then I let friends know that I’m once again available to have a social life (because no doubt I’ve been in studio lockdown for months). I catch up on life. I clean my studio (and then find it sterile and empty and must make it messy again). It’s all a cycle!

Kaili Smith SOLD OUT solo at MONIKER Art Fair in London

We’re sending a big congrats to Kaili Smith on his sold-out solo show at Moniker Art Fair in London this past weekend. We have a lot more planned with Kaili Smith in 2019 and 2020, so make sure to follow along and don’t miss out.

 

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.

THE NEW VANGUARD II at The Lancaster Museum of Art and History // October 20th – December 30th

THE NEW VANGUARD II
October 20 – December 30, 2018
Curated by Thinkspace Projects

Sandra Chevrier | Cages and the Allure of Freedom
Seth Armstrong | Lil’ Baja’s Last Ride
Craig ‘Skibs’ Barker | Suzy is a Surf Rocker
Brooks Salzwedel | Rut in the Soil

(Lancaster, CA) – The Lancaster Museum of Art and History, in collaboration with Los Angeles’ Thinkspace Projects, is pleased to present The New Vanguard II, a dynamic group exhibition of works by international artists working in the New Contemporary art movement. The highly anticipated follow up to 2016’s successful first iteration of The New Vanguard, on view in tandem with this year’s POW WOW! Antelope Valley will feature special solo projects by artists Sandra Chevrier, Seth Armstrong, Craig ‘Skibs’ Barker, and Brooks Salzwedel.

A sequel to what was in 2016 the most extensive presentation of work from the New Contemporary movement in a Southern Californian museum venue to date, The New Vanguard II, in keeping with the first, will present a diverse and expansive group of curated new works. The group show will include new pieces by ABCNT, Adam Caldwell, Alex Garant, Alex Hall, Alexandra Manukyan, Amy Sol, Andrew Schoultz, Benjamin Garcia, Brian Mashburn, Carl Cashman, CASE, Dan Witz, Drew Merritt, EINE, Ekundayo, Ermsy, Esao Andrews, Evoca1, Fernando Chamarelli, Fidia Falaschetti, Fintan Magee, Helen Bur, Hueman, Hula, Huntz Liu, Jaune, Joel Daniel Phillips, Jolene Lai, Juan Travieso, Kaili Smith, Kathy Ager, Kikyz1313, Laura Berger, Lauren YS, Lonac, Mark Dean Veca, Mars-1, Martin Whatson, Masakatsu Sashie, Meggs, Michael Reeder, Milu Correch, The Perez Bros, PichiAvo, RISK, Robert Xavier Burden, Robert Proch, Ronzo, Saner, Scott Listfield , Sergio Garcia, Seth Armstrong, Skewville, Snik, Stephanie Buer, Super A, Super Future Kid, TikToy, Tran Nguyen, Van Arno, and Yosuke Ueno.

Alongside the focused solo presentations by Chevrier, Armstrong, Barker, and Salzwedel, the exhibition will include site-specific installations by Andrew Hem, Dan Witz, HOTxTEA, Isaac Cordal, Jaune, Laurence Vallieres, and Spenser Little.

A movement unified as much by its diversity as its similitude, ‘New Contemporary’ has come to denote an important heterogeneity of styles, media, contexts, and activations over the course of its establishment since the 90s. Unified in its fledgling beginnings by a founding countercultural impulse searching for its own nomenclature, the New Contemporary movement’s shifting and inclusive designations have offered alternative narratives over the years to those popularized by the dominant art establishment and its conceptual predilections.

Though stylistically disparate, the work belonging to this rapidly expansive movement reveals a desire to reference the popular, social, and subcultural domains of contemporary experience, grounding, rather than rarifying, imagery in the familiar. Looking to the urban landscape and the kaleidoscopic shift of individual identities within it, these artists use the figurative and narrative to anchor their work in the accessible and aesthetically relatable. A fundamentally democratic stance governs the ambitions of this new guard, ever in search of novel ways to expand rather than to contract.

Sandra Chevrier | Cages and the Allure of Freedom
The Montréal-based Canadian artist creates work that explores identity as a locus of competing imperatives and complex contradictions. Drawing parallels between the assumed invulnerability of the superhero and the impossible demands placed upon the contemporary individual, Chevrier creates literal and metaphoric masks by combining comic book imagery assembled from found and imagined sources. Her dystopian spin on the iconic figure of the superhero looks to reveal the flaws in the staged extroversion of the superficial veneer.

In Cages and the Allure of Freedom, her first significant solo museum presentation, Chevrier will be showcasing large-scale sculptural works for the first time including three massive portrait based reliefs alongside three life-sized, hand-painted busts complementing some of her largest two-dimensional acrylic on canvas works.

Seth Armstrong | Lil’ Baja’s Last Ride
Los Angeles-based painter Seth Armstrong creates paintings that arrest a sense of time. Some offer expansive views and others a contracted intimacy, moving freely in and out of public and private spaces to create intersecting narratives. Known for paintings that self-consciously capture the act of looking – whether as a voyeur in trespass or a participant in the landscape – Armstrong apprehends the simultaneity of the city as a place of endless, contingent narratives, jarring interruptions, and suspenseful pauses.

In Lil’ Baja’s Last Ride, the artist presents a sequential vignette of over ten new paintings in which his own car becomes an unlikely protagonist. His immersive approach to his subject matter often produces anecdotal adjuncts. Following several pilgrimages into the landscape between his home in LA and Lancaster for the exhibition, a route, incidentally, which also happens to have personal childhood significance for the artist, Armstrong’s beloved beater and proverbial instrument of research, ‘Lil’ Baja,’ caught fire and was partially incinerated in the museum’s parking lot. The overarching narrative structure of the works feels ambiguously suspended somewhere between fiction, social realism, and personal history. In an ending befitting Armstrong’s own penchant for cinematic turns, poetic hooks, and absurd knacks, Lil’ Baja’s Last Ride is an unexpected swan song in memoriam to an old friend’s final expedition.

Craig ‘Skibs’ Barker | ‘Suzy is a Surf Rocker’
A Huntington Beach native based in Southern California, mixed media painter Craig ‘Skibs’ Barker creates imagery inspired by print media and the graphic sensibilities of 80’s SoCal punk and surf, the subcultural terrain shaping the 80’s in which he grew up. His works feel surreal and partial, intentionally stylized to the point of decontextualization. By framing figurative subjects with an element of voyeuristic ambiguity, Barker’s compositions have the intuitive spontaneity of a Polaroid and the deliberate staging of a stencil. Familiar and far, they feel strange in their proximity.

Brooks Salzwedel | Rut in the Soil
Born in Long Beach, Salzwedel creates translucent landscapes that shift in and out of solid and ethereal states. Like fluid worlds suspended in a cycle of perpetual haunting, the imagery often feels loosely real but undeniably hallucinated and invoked. His works play with the depiction of these unhinged natural and hyperbolically unnatural physical states, combining sparse terrains with fictional mountain ranges and shadowy, diaphanous atmospheres. His mixed-media drawing-based works are created using a combination of graphite, mylar and resin, tape, colored pencil, and ink.

Exhibition on view October 20 through December 30 at:
Lancaster Museum of Art and History
665 W. Lancaster Blvd.
Lancaster, California 93534
www.LancasterMOAH.org

Taking place as part of POW! WOW! Antelope Valley
www.PowWowWorldwide.com

Opening Saturday October 13th Josh Keyes’s “Tempest”

Josh Keyes
TEMPEST
October 13, 2018 – November 3, 2018

(Los Angeles, CA) – Thinkspace is pleased to present new works by Portland-based artist Josh Keyes in Tempest. Keyes creates lush, hyperrealistic paintings of our civilization’s dystopian aftermath; a post-human planet left ecologically ravaged and dissipated, sits aflame, overgrown or beneath water, while a new natural order attempts to reclaim its disastrous inheritance. In recent years, Keyes has abandoned the minimalism of his precise, dioramic disaster taxonomies in favor of a more immersive and expanded pictorial frame. These works depict entire environments rather than only its cross-sections in a not-so-distant future state of ecological ruin. Keyes has mastered the satirical posturing of hyperbole as fact with a world so convincingly rendered, and so disastrously surreal, that fantasy becomes alarmingly plausible. In Tempest, Keyes conjures an insolvent wilderness facing the eye of a final storm.

Keyes’ highly detailed narrative paintings have evolved from their earlier iteration as closed systems, or quasi-scientific specimens drawn from some post-apocalyptic natural history museum to less confined and formulaic expressions of an imploding natural order. Displaced wild animals and the remnants of human architectures and monuments are all that remain, the only living witnesses to whatever final or cumulative set of events have finally tipped the scales beyond salvage. Recent works have depicted wholly submerged forests, graffiti-tagged marine life, and itinerant polar bears wandering an environmentally exhausted earth. Here, human monuments are drowned by the deluge and incongruous combinations abound as displaced rhinos run rampant beneath abandoned urban underpasses. The traces of our destructive legacy even appear in space, harkening dystopian visions of the final frontier – humanity’s last escapist fantasy of evacuating the planet it has consumed.

Animals have always appeared as the focal points of Keyes’ metaphoric, and psychologically penetrating works. He depicts them with the anatomical precision of a biologist and the poetic freedom of a storyteller. As protagonists, creatures universalize the narratives, making them indiscriminately relatable and empathically accessible. Charged with the psychic and imagistic resonance of a shared, collective subconscious, Animalia provides the artist with a symbolically valent source of iconography. This combination of the personally inflected and the culturally drawn supplies the artist with an inexhaustible source material.

Working primarily in acrylic on panel, Keyes has perfected his hyperrealistic painting technique, depicting the environmental crisis with startling representational clarity as a trope for the larger human one. It becomes clear that the imagining of this apocalyptic chaos harbors a social anxiety that extends far beyond the concerns of the ecological. In a time of great political angst and uncertainty, the artist’s works are all the more poignant as harbingers of a, now more than ever, alarmingly plausible doomsday. Keyes, the dystopian naturalist, continues to provoke our imaginations with the poetry of a cataclysmically surreal future tense.