SCOPE NYC 2019 Featuring New Works from Leon Keer

SCOPE New York
March 7-10, 2019

Thinkspace will be featuring a solo booth from Leon Keer

Located At:
125 West 18th Street
New York, New York 10011

General Admission:
Saturday, March 9 11AM-8PM
Sunday, March 10 11AM-7PM

We’re excited to be back in NYC for the 19th edition of SCOPE New York at the Metropolitan Pavilion in the Chelsea District. We are showcasing a solo booth featuring 12 new works on wood panel from Leon Keer out of The Netherlands. Keer is a world leading artist in anamorphic street art. He has executed commissions in Europe, The United States, Mexico, The United Arabic Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Russia, New Zealand, Australia and several Asian countries.

A message seems to be present in Keer’s work. Current issues are reviewed, such as environmental concerns and the livability of this world. The artist is constantly aware of the playfulness and beauty versus the degradation around him, a contrast that he expresses and amplifies in his work and which he uses as a metaphor for life. His paintings reflect his thoughts, confronting the viewer with the diseased spirit of our times, visible decay counter-pointing a timeless longing for unspoiled beauty.

Known for presenting groundbreaking contemporary work, SCOPE New York will welcome 60 international exhibitors at its centrally-located venue.

The first fair to run concurrent with The Armory Show, SCOPE New York’s spirit of innovation has consistently forged the way for emerging artists and galleries. Attuned to nuances in the market and itself an influential force in the cultural sphere, SCOPE continues to usher in a new vision of the contemporary art fair.

SCOPE New York 2019 opened on Thursday, March 7, 2019 and will run through Sunday, March 10, 2019.

Full details at:
https://scope-art.com/show/new-york-2019/visitor/

Interview with Frank Gonzales for “Desert Discourse”

We’re excited to be showing new work by Pheonix-based artist Frank Gonzales in our project room for his solo exhibition Desert Discourse opening Saturday, March 2nd. Gonzales’s compostions showcase his love of botany and ornithology, combining both the organic and artificial, the natural and the contrived, to produce what the artist himself has aptly coined ‘artificial realism.’

In anticipation of Desert Discourse our interview with Frank Gonzales discusses the inspiration behind this latest body or work, and his love for prickly pear and John Coltrane.

SH: What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? Were you exploring a specific theme or pushing yourself artistically in a certain way?

FG: I’m always trying to push myself artistically with each painting or body of work, at least I try.  The theme of my work is a continued exploration of the phenomena and sense of wonder I hold of the natural world. There’s been an introduction of aerosol in some of the works. Its been great To revisit my roots as a graff writer and play with the medium again. The quality of paint and options of colors offered these days are phenomenal. That kind of makes me sound old, haha. It’s just great to throw another medium in the mix and react to it. 

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.

FG: I really enjoyed painting Night Breed. It’s more specific imagery wise. Instead of stacking various elements I chose to illustrate a pollinating night scene of a Saguaro with Long Nosed Bats. There are so many different pollinators of the Saguaro, but a night scene with bats is just so badss. Its remarkable knowing a Saguaro doesn’t even produce flowers until its around 70 years old and can age well over 100 years old! Pollination of flowering cactus in the Sonoran Desert could be a whole series in itself. Who knows, that could be another venture to explore on the horizon!   

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

FG: I’ll usually start by obsessing over a certain cactus or mineral or some sort of natural element as a jump-off point. Or I will just start putting down paint on a surface and react with shapes and colors, etc. Its a pretty organic process.

Once I have a surface I’m happy with I will start to research from books, pics I’ve documented, my desktop folder of images, or plants from my own collection. Once an element is chosen I’ll draw it on the surface and it grows from there. The painting will usually dictate what it needs. The hardest part is learning to step aside from yourself and let it happen without getting too heady about it.

The painting process is usually a blur of being in the moment. I love that the most. All sense of time is gone until you stop and back away. It’s an experience I think most artists can relate to. 

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

FG: It can be a love/hate relationship. Sometimes starting is the hardest part and also the most exciting. As mentioned above I think getting out of the way of yourself and moving with the process is exciting. There’s a sort of dialogue that happens I find enjoyable. 

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

FG: The times where you feel like you’ve run out of ideas or stopping yourself mentally before even starting. This is usually a sign that something needs to change. Find a different approach or just change the music. In the end the work will still be consistent, but its the mental chatter that can be a bit of a buzz kill. I definitely think the excitement and frustration balance each other out. You can’t have one without the other. 

SH: Is there a piece of knowledge or advice around being a working artist that you wish you knew 10 years ago? 

FG: Not really. Its an ongoing journey to be explored. 

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

FG: Hmmm, maybe Prickly Pear fruit! I would have to be a Paleta and all natural. HA! 

SH: If you could collaborate with any other artist (dead or alive) in any art form, such as music, film, dance etc… what would be your dream collab and what would you create?

FG: At first my thoughts would be to do live art with John Coltrane, but I wouldn’t get anything done because I would probably just stand there in awe. I would probably have to go with producing some type of super sexy and sensual botanicals for a Prince album. HAHA. 

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

FG: The role of artists in society is very vital. It’s how we communicate and express the unspeakable truths of natural phenomena. Language can only communicate so much. There are so many forms of art out there that inspire, inform and speak to me. It shows what it means to be human. It’s chaos, it’s ugly, it’s pretty, it’s functional, it’s useless, etc. It’s all out there. What matters is how we engage with it. It’s about what we choose to accept and not accept and to keep an open mind and heart regardless.

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

FG: a big sigh and some brews. ha!

Join us for the opening reception of Desert Discourse, Saturday March 2nd from 6 to 9 pm.

Interview with Kevin Peterson for “Wild”

We’re excited to be showing new work by Houston-based artist Kevin Peterson in our main room for his solo exhibition Wild opening Saturday, March 2nd.  Peterson’s hyper-realistic compositions create a fictional world in which innocence and collapse are brought into difficult proximity.

In anticipation of Wild our interview with Kevin Peterson discusses the inspiration behind the exhibition, his dream collaboration, and what kind of ice cream his body of work would inspire.

SH: What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? Were you exploring a specific theme or pushing yourself artistically in a certain way?

KP: Just growing up, what its like to be a kid and what its like to think about being a kid. How things change over time and how we change. I like thinking about our world in different stages. Seeing how the things we make crumble and decay. Seeing nature take over when it’s allowed to, but even nature is cyclical. A forest burns down, but it grows back stronger, it’s just a matter of time.
The settings of these always have an end of the world look to them. I don’t really believe in an apocalypse type situation, but it is a different world than what we are living in currently. A new phase I would say.  Things are crumbling, but it’s not a reason for fear. It’s a new beginning, a clean slate. It’s important to remember that change can lead to good. It can make you adjust your trajectory, reevaluate your priorities. I suppose the kids in my paintings are a reflection of a hope that I have that people will learn from past mistakes and face the future with a sense of calm reason. Part of that is re-prioritizing what we value. The work is a vision of a new generation of kids that will not rule the world like tyrants but will respect nature and the world we have.

 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.  

KP: I swear, every time I paint the portrait part of a painting (especially a kids face) its a technical challenge. It always looks like shit in the beginning and for a long time after. I just keep working it and working it and eventually I get it where I want it. It’s always a battle. I used my son as a model for a couple of these paintings and that added a whole other level of difficulty. It being my kid, I found it extra challenging to capture him perfectly. 


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

KP: Sometimes I start with a background image I like and sometimes I start with a picture of a model I want to use, it doesn’t always come about the same way. I work pretty closely with my reference photos, but the final scenes are composites of my images. I have tons of images of urban blight or abandoned places that I’ve taken over the years and I also have tons of pictures of models that I’ve taken down at my studio. I use Photoshop to lay out a composition that I will use to paint from. My pieces are pretty well planned out, but the Photoshop composites are never perfect though, they are a framework. The challenge comes in working out all the details during the actual painting process.  My goal is to create a scene that is both implausible or fantastic, but at the same time totally believable to the viewer.  Just technically speaking, my work takes many, many hours. I paint in pretty thin layers, just building up and refining over time. It takes a lot of passes to get everything how I like it. 

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

KP: My paintings are well planned out before I ever start painting. I love every bit of the painting part, but the excitement comes in the planning stage. When I add that element to a certain background or setting that I want to paint, whether it be one of my references of a model or maybe an animal. I can tell the second I put it in there, it fits, its like “bingo!” that’s it.  It sometimes takes hundreds of different attempts to find the right fit, sometimes I never find it, but when I do, its really thrilling and I cant wait to start painting at that point. 


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

KP: I put a lot of time into ideas and concepts for paintings that never actually make it to the canvas. I sometimes feel like I’m so close to something good, but I just can’t make it work in the end and I have to abandon it. It’s like having this sort of vague idea in your head and not being able to translate it to reality. That can be frustrating and it can feel like a waste of time, but its all part of the process.

SH: Is there a piece of knowledge or advice around being a working artist that you wish you knew 10 years ago?

KP: Don’t compare yourself to other artists. It’s a hard thing to do. Also, don’t just art all the time, you gotta actually live your life so you will have the stuff to paint about. 

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

KP: You would take a cone with some pure and perfect flavor and dip it in a vat of dirt and grime and shit. Sounds delicious!

SH: If you could collaborate with any other artist (dead or alive) in any art form, such as music, film, dance etc… what would be your dream collab and what would you create?

KP: I don’t really enjoy collaborating. It goes back to hating group work in school. I love film though. I guess I’d pick a director like Scorsese or Terrance Malick or Spike Lee maybe. I wouldn’t do anything though, I’d just want to watch them work. 

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

KP: I think different artists can play a lot of different roles in life. All I know is that when I find something that an artist created that expresses a feeling that I could never have put into words but nails exactly how I feel or have felt, that is a really comforting feeling. Knowing you’re not alone. It’s powerful, it’s rare, but its why I love art.

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

KP: I worked really hard on this last show, a lot of long days and late nights.  I’m actually taking it a little bit easy since I shipped the pieces off. Decompressing a little. I’m doing yard work. I actually discovered a few years back that I love gardening, even though Im crap at it and most of my plants die. I really love spring,  just looking around town at peoples yards and at the nurseries to see what different plants I can get to replace the ones I killed over the previous year. 

Join us for the opening reception of Wild, Saturday March 2nd from 6 to pm.


Kevin Peterson’s “WILD” showing March 2019.

KEVIN PETERSON
WILD
March 2 – March 23, 2019

(Los Angeles, CA) – Thinkspace is pleased to present new works by Houston-based artist Kevin Peterson in Wild. Peterson, a gifted hyperrealist painter, creates a fictional world in which innocence and collapse are brought into difficult proximity. His arresting images combine portraits of children accompanied by kindly sentient beasts in a state of kindred displacement. Alone, though together, in strangely desolate, richly graffitied urban scenes, these babes and their benevolent conspirators appear interchangeably as beacons of hope and symbols of dispossession.

Peterson’s works harness a dystopian social hyperrealism through painstaking attention to every possible fraction and detail of the mundane in their execution – every contour is excised, every surface meticulously rendered. The weird crystal clarity of the hyperreal in the depiction of these desolate underpasses and structural ruins provides a starkly strange backdrop for elements of fairytale, like the fantastic alliances proposed between children and animals, and the magical narratives these allegiances imply. A psychologically poignant, if not ambiguous, feeling of transformation and hope lingers in these impossibly arresting scenes of solitary kids. The resilience they suggest is haunting, while the unsettling verity with which these vulnerable fictions are cast strike something in our shared fear of literal and figurative exposure.

Here, a panther provides an angelic little girl with an unlikely guardian; a boy sits alone in an abandoned graffiti-tagged building flanked by a pair of ravens and a gentle fox – a corrugated cardboard crown cast down on the floor beside him like some failed promise of clemency and exemption. In spite of seemingly bleak, if not potentially catastrophic, circumstances, the isolated child protagonists in Peterson’s works, bereft amidst modern-day ruins save for the companionship of their wild, bestial cohort, are calm, peaceful, and strangely emancipated. A feeling of persistence and salvage dominate these visual metaphors for human survival; life, in the end, persists in its way and under the most iniquitous and impossible conditions.

Always in search of poetic tension and compelling contrasts, Peterson alloys unlikely parts: beginnings and ends collide, the young appear in worn and weathered worlds, innocence is forced into experience, and the wild infringes upon the ‘civilizing’ city limits. In Wild, Peterson explores themes of protection and marginalization, staging wild animals, ironically, in the humanizing and civilizing charge of caregivers. Though a recurring suggestion in previous works, the role of the animal in a nearly shamanistic role as protector and watcher appears more overtly in the new. Small children are attended by wild bears, watchful raccoons, gentle fawns, mythic looking ravens, owls, and jungle cats, among others, as they hold a living and protective vigil against the crumbling architectures around them; their guardianship staged like a protective bulwark. The compositions feel more symmetrically staged in these new works, while pairs of animals, particularly ravens, appear as dual harbingers of birth and death, bookending the endless transformations of life in between.

Peterson’s hyperreal paintings are at times uncomfortably close in the pathos of their offerings; they remind us, too, of something uneasily present in us all, a childhood that haunts the posturing of all of our adulthoods. Ultimately, Peterson’s works offer beautifully jarring reminders of the need for redemptive outcomes in a disappointed time.

Frank Gonzales’s “Desert Discourse” showing March 2019.

FRANK GONZALES
DESERT DISCOURSE
March 2 – March 23, 2019

Concurrently on view in the Thinkspace project room is Desert Discourse, featuring new works by painter Frank Gonzales. Born in Mesa, Arizona, the artist is currently based in Phoenix and incorporates the desert botanicals and bird specimens native to the surrounding area into his vibrant and detailed paintings. His love of botany and ornithology have sought expression in works that combine both the organic and artificial, the natural and the contrived, to produce what the artist himself has aptly coined ‘artificial realism.’

This balance between life and design is at the forefront of Gonzales’ practice; rarely ever planning a piece with preliminaries before its set to a panel, the artist is resolving the composition in paint as it unfolds in real time and as it’s made. The resulting works convey an organic sense of balance and an internal logic. In this new body of work, Gonzales incorporates looser areas of paint application, using a freer stylization to offset the precise handling of others, while he has also included new geological elements like crystals and geodes.

Amidst beautifully rendered natural specimens – everything from brilliant birds, exotic cacti, lush desert blooms, to prismatic rock – the artist’s surreal stylization prevails, bringing the extant to strange, vibrant, new life. Gonzales’ works are punctuated by moments of graphic mark making and intentionally synthetic motifs in bright, electric hues, providing visual contrast to the tightly rendered counterpoint of the wildlife specimens.

Inspired by the vastness of the desert’s natural landscape and the humbling impermanence it invokes, Gonzales combines the intuitive and the observed in a contemporary take on the Naturalist’s obsession.