Artist Kathy Ager, whose exhibition “Golden Age” is currently on view at Thinkspace Projects, was recently interviewed by Beautiful Bizarre about her latest body of work. Visit Beautiful Bizarre for the full interview.
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.
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.
Jaune and Slinkachu’s collaborative exhibition Trash Talk is currently on view at Thinkspace Projects now through June 22nd. During the artists time in Culver City, they took to the streets for a few unexpected pieces of art.
Jaune, from Belgium, and Slinkachu, from the UK are both critically acclaimed artists who work on an atypically miniaturist scale, especially given the monumental standard demanded of public art in the deafening context of the city.