Thank you to everyone that helped us kick off our September exhibitions in fine form on Saturday, September 14th. Please swing by this month if you missed the opening! Three incredible exhibitions are on view for you to enjoy from now until October 5th.
Thinkspace is pleased to present Alchemy featuring new works by New Jersey-based artist Mwanel Pierre-Louis. His colorful and layered worked portrays scenarios that express duality and emotions. Louis connects with everyday people who are willing to shed off their daily stories and allow him to capture them through his paintings.
In anticipation of Alchemy, our interview with Mwanel Pierre-Louis discusses the creative process, best artistic advise, and Footlocker.
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?
MPL: Hi! I’m Mwanel Pierre- Louis, everyone calls me One- L lol. I’m originally from New York City and Jersey City, but I was raised most of my life in Miami, FL. My Haitian influences mixed with Miami’s vibrancy transformed my personal interest to create. Went art school most of my life, such New World School of the Arts for high school and Art Center College of Design for Illustration Design. Worked in the entertainment and fashion industries out in LA for a few years after leaving Art Center. Came back to Miami to really pursue the career as a Fine Artist/ Illustrator/Artist. Got very inspired by my environment with its color, people and energy. If you’re wondering what zodiac sign I am, I’m a Gemini.
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.
MPL: Well, many of these pieces were challenging for me. Due to the fact of time and complexity with some pieces. During this time of creating, I was really pushing my limits with all aspects of the new work. This really humbled me throughout the process. In this case, there was one piece I can say made me go to think I wasn’t sure if I’ll be done with. That was “Aura” (FIRE), even though it was fairly sized, the details made me tap out a few times. Before starting this piece, I was in a marathon, knocking out paintings with great time and better process. I’m was glad I pushed myself throughout that piece. Many hours of love and built up hand cramps came into play lol.
SH:Where do you source inspiration? Do you jot inspiration down in a notebook or on your phone?
MPL: This last couple of years have been ups and downs, highs and lows. Definitely let the universe take its course on me and I can say it was an adventure. I really had me think clearer than I ever did. Every time I crossed an individual I can tell that we’re going through similar things in life. We all take part in this walk of life, but we’re willing to grow further by allowing ourselves to walk through our periods of life. I made sure that I forced my introverted self to be more extrovert and start conversations. It came clear we all have common situations. It took me back to when I read “The Alchemist”. Even a conversation with my dad. He said “your next body of work should be called “Alchemy”. Your work really shows evolution within the people you paint and portray.”
While traveling most of 2018, I’d carry my sketchbook and/or iPhone to write down words that lead up to ideas, then finally to scribbles. Heading into 2019, I moved to Jersey City to isolate myself from everyone to work on this new body of work. I do remember bouncing off ideas with other fellow artists that were in my building of Mana Contemporary. I’d ask if I can record on my phone or steal some context from them to imply it into the new works.
SH:What is your favorite and least favorite part of the creative process?
MPL: Favorite part of the creative process is being submerged into the moments of the piece and also finding the mistakes within the piece. The least favorite part of the creative process is getting cramps in my hands and the last leg of the day while painting for more than 12 hours out the day. I have a tendency of either pushing myself or dosing off and messing up my palette. And the very least favorite thing is when I have to match paint in areas of leaked paint that got stuck under the tape.
I also appreciate the process when I’m designing out the composition, either by a drawing or if it’s digital. It’s just me and my thoughts while I explore my horizons. Gives me great solitude and I stay on my toes. Not caring what the outcome would be. I’ve grown to be more open to that process.
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.
MPL: Haha, I never got to think about that, but in the past, I’ve always been mistaken for the singer/dancer/actor/friend of mine, Omarion. I trust his skill lol. Maybe even Micheal B. Jordan as well, I definitely see him with my essence in the Black Panther movie haha. Like a comedy, drama or biopic movie would be a scenario. Who would want to see an aesthetic of “Moonlight” meets Julian Schnabel’s “Basquiat”? I think there’s content within that.
SH: What is the best technical advice you’ve received in regards to painting / being an artist? What is the best philosophical advice you’ve received?
MPL: One piece of advice I’ve received from fellow artist as a painter was to not jump around from one area to another without finishing the one area. If you feel that you’ve completely finished that area then go to the next thing. As for the philosophical advice, here’s one or two,“Balance yourself during your process, you have all of the time to create, but enable to create, you must live life as well.” Another universal quote I took in dearly is “Focus on you, so they can focus on you!”
SH: Are you a podcast, tv/ movie streaming service, or music in the background type of painter? What were you listening to during the development of this show that you would recommend to others?
MPL: As for my listening sessions, I’m all three. I’ll have my Netflix days, my Apple Music or SoundCloud days, and even my podcast days. The top podcasts that I’m listening to are Joe Rogan Experience, TigerBelly, The Savvy Painter, Bodega Boys and of course, Clean Break Podcast. On my iTunes/ Apple Music, I’ve ranged from Kaytranada to N.E.R.D. to Burna Boy. Netflix is where I’m definitely listening to comedies like the latest Dave Chapelle stand up to Marvel/ Star Wars movies. Also got caught up on Netflix originals such as “She Gotta Have It” and “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee”. Very simple, but gets my days going.
SH: What is the coolest or most exciting thing to happen to you thus far in life and is it because of or connected to your work?
MPL: These last few years have been a rollercoaster for me. I can actually tell you that 2018 was my busiest and yet most transitional year I’ve ever been in yet. I’d worked on multiple projects with commercial backing, traveled much and networked more than ever due to my work. March 1 was a pentacle day for me, I’d received a commercial gig with Adidas and Footlocker. That was one of the best experiences I’ve been apart of. The agency that reached out found my work through Booooooom.com from the previous body of work I put out. They wanted to fly me out to LA for a video shoot where I would be starring.
The project entailed, that I would make a video-based around this shoe “The Deerupt” and my life but with a sportswear treatment. This included me to paint a piece featuring the Deerupt for one of the Footlocker stores in Miami. After, donate that painting to one organization of my choice. For the video shoot, I was asked to do a monologue and bring out a painting of mine for them to be featured. Also, each location, I was wearing a different outfit from and riding on a fixed gear bike. Overall, I had the best time just being me and networking with other creatives throughout the project.
SH: What do you think the role of artists is in society? How does other artwork inform how you move through life?
MPL: Without art, I wouldn’t think that the world would function the way we would now. Without the artists, we can’t uplift nor make a culture to function within an organized society. It would be grays all around, not even black and white. I’m more so a colorful person just by the way I use the colors within my work. I draw others into a portal just by the colors that I’ve placed as context.
SH:What would a perfect day outside of the studio look like for you?
MPL: Well being in New Jersey, there are many things that I can do while being out of the studio. But a perfect day for me would be at the waterfront in Hoboken, sitting at the boardwalk staring at the New York City line. Then head to the path train, over to Soho area and just venture off to different streetwear boutiques, vintage t-shirt stores and of course head over to Midtown Comics. Guarantee, you can also find me walking around New Museum or the Whitney Museum as well. That can be considered a perfect day for me. I rather spend time being invested with the culture around me from time to time.
SH: Fun Hypothetical: A world-renowned chef wants to make a dish inspired by your artwork and favorite food. What would be the dishes ingredients and what is it similar too?
MPL: Damn, this is such a great question. I never thought about seeing my artwork inspire a dish. Well, I have a weakness for pizza or any flaky pastry. To be realistic, the pastry might be it. Like an empanada or Haitian Pâté. A Haitian pâté consists of thin layered dough skins with a middle opening with a different type of meat or vegetable. Maybe each layer had a different color dye to it. But the top would be its normal color. The type of meat that I can see in it is either ground turkey meat or shrimp. Better yet, I don’t even mind seeing Cauliflower and other veggies within the middle area. The reason for having those elements is that is transferred into the way I peel off layers to my subjects. Each color represents the energy that is portrayed at the moment while eating the pastry. It fully translates with an individual that you come across within my paintings.
Join us for the opening reception of “Alchemy” Saturday, September 14, 2019 from 6:00pm – 9:00pm
A Beautiful Haunting Opening Reception: Saturday, September 14 from 6-9PM
“I especially enjoy exploring the neighborhood I live in during late hours. There is something enigmatic about seeing houses lit up, illuminated against the stark darkness that envelops them at this hour. It was on one of those sleepless nights that I was out exploring and capturing the beauty of the array of homes that came alive and lured me with their inviting lights, that I stumbled upon an unexplored street that was just around the corner. I remembered the air just beginning to build up a cloud of misty fog that was thick with the intense pungence of jasmine.
The seemingly long and unending street had no name. It was all at once foreign with rows of strange looking houses on either side, yet familiar because several of them I was certain existed on some other streets I had walked down before. There was even a bonsai tree I came across that was distinct in shape, and for which I was sure belonged to apartment 769 on Oak Street. The further I walked, the more surreal it became. It was as if someone had picked up the houses I have come to know and appreciate over time, and planted them between others that were alien to me.
The fog dissipated by the time I got to the end of the lonesome street. I proceeded to turn around the corner and left the street with no name, never once turning my head back. I was filled with a deep sense of comfort and relief as each and every shrub, tree and house I passed were once more familiar and in place again. I continued my night observations, but never did cross paths with that peculiar street again.
A Beautiful Haunting, is a new collection of artwork that is inspired by this extraordinary encounter from many years ago. I want to construct a plane where what is relatable and comforting to us, comes to merge with emotions of unfamiliarity and unsettlement. The collection largely draws influences from popular film culture and children fiction books that I have grown up watching, reading and have come to love. Naming a few that I have referenced are films such as Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, the original TV series The Twilight Zone and novels like Adventures of the Wishing Chair by Enid Blyton. I particularly wanted to focus on extracting interesting key characters and elements from each story that many have come to recognize as household names, and challenge myself to reiterate them by misplacing them in urban landscapes and comfortable nooks that I have handpicked from actual documentations of my explorations of the neighborhoods I have visited.
The collection will consist of a body of sixteen oil paintings and intimate drawings, as well as a large scale paper installation, and is an invitation to everyone from all walks of life that appreciates the little discoveries of something peculiar in the normal ordinary everyday.” – Jolene Lai
Am I dreaming, walking in my sleep I just can’t drop this feeling underneath my feet These London streets are moving, rising up and meeting me You know I see our faces eyes. I’m hallucinating, I’m hallucinating, I’m hallucinating, I’m hallucinating Daily life feels like a constant dream I keep on tripping out, eyy, why am I such a freak? I don’t know why that painting’s staring back at me I swear, I think its eyes just moved. I’m hallucinating, I’m hallucinating, I’m hallucinating, I’m hallucinating Baby, I’m scared to drink the water, baby, I think you drank the water A hallucination is a perception, in the absence of external stimulus That has qualities of real perception, hallucinations are vivid, substantial And are perceived to be located in external objective space. I’m hallucinating, I’m hallucinating, I’m hallucinating, I’m hallucinating, I’m hallucinating, I’m hallucinating, I’m hallucinating, I’m hallucinating
MWANEL PIERRE-LOUIS Alchemy Opening Reception: Saturday, September 14 from 6-9PM
“In able to grow, we all must shed off our layers”.
“This show, Alchemy, conveys the energies and conversation between the people and I. Working thru the conversations, peels back the layers through color and abstraction. These scenarios give duality and emotions throughout each piece. There’s a vast vocabulary with dense and airy contrast by it compositions and space. I’m also using Basic Alchemy to cover most of the scenarios. These are everyday people that are willing to shed off their daily stories to me and allow me to convey that through painting.” – Mwanel Pierre-Louis
Vertical Gallery presents ‘LAX / ORD II’, curated by Thinkspace. The exhibition will feature 100 artists, and will take place September 7 – 28, 2019. The opening reception is Saturday, September 7th, 6-9pm.
After the phenomenal success of LAX / ORD in September 2016, Vertical and Thinkspace immediately discussed collaborating again. “LAX / ORD II” will have more artists than the first edition, in what will be the largest collection of artists from the New Contemporary Movement under one roof to date in the Windy City.
All the artists have been asked to work within the same space confines of 12×12 inches (30×30 cm) and left to their own devices from there. This collection helps to showcase just how vast and varied the Movement is, from portrait based works to the more fantastical, from landscapes to design based abstract works… ‘LAX / ORD II’ promises to bring your Instagram feed to life and expose you to your new favorite artist.
The exhibition will also include more of a taste of the local Chicago art scene. JC Rivera will have a site-specific mural on the back wall of the gallery to help accent the group show that will be installed on the gallery’s adjacent side walls. On top of that, there will be a new print edition from Kayla Mahaffey that will be available exclusively for sale to those attending the opening reception. Get ready for Thinkspace’s big return!
Artists include: ABCNT Abigail Goldman Adam Caldwell Ador Alex Garant Alex Yanes Alexandra Manukyan Alvaro Naddeo Anthony Solano Baldur Helgason Benjamin Garcia Brian Mashburn Bryan Valenzuela Buff Monster Caratoes Carlos Ramirez CASE Casey Weldon Charlie Edmiston Chase Mullen Chloe Becky Clare Toms Collin Van Der Sluijs Craig ’Skibs’ Barker Crash One Cristian Blanxer Daniel Bildodeau David Cooley Derek Gores Drew Young Eduardo F. Angel Eelus Egg Fiasco Erica Rose Levine Ermsy Fafi Fernando Chamarelli Fumi Nakamura Goopmassta Hanna Lee Joshi Helen Bur Hilda Palafox (aka Poni) Huntz Liu JC Rivera Jacque Fragua Joseph Renda Jr. Joram Roukes Kaili Smith Kayla Mahaffey Kelly Vivanco Kelsey Beckett Kobusher Koz Dos Kyle Bryant Lauren YS Leon Keer Linsey Levendall Lisa King Lonac Louis Masai Luke Chueh Mando Marie Marie-Claude Marquis Martine Johanna Max Sansing Meggs Nicola Caredda Nomad Clan Nosego Nuno Viegas Oak Oak Paola Delfin The Perez Bros PREF Rachel Strum Ricky Watts Roos van der Vliet Ryan Malley Samuel Rodriguez Sean Chao Sepe Seth Armstrong Sickid Spenser Little Stephanie Buer Stikman Super A Superdeux Telmo Miel Terry Arena TMRWLND Troy Lovegates Wiley Wallace Woes Wooden Wave Yok & Sheryo Yosuke Ueno Yusei Abe Zezão
‘LAX / ORD II’, Curated by Thinkspace September 7 – 28, 2019 Opening Reception: Saturday, September 7 from 6-9PM
Taking Place At: Vertical Gallery 1016 N. Western Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60622