Interview with James Bullough

Scope is a great way for us to close out the year, and 2017 didn’t disappoint. We want to thank everyone that came to the booth and a big round of applause to the entire staff of Scope. Also, major kudos to both James Bullough and Michael Reeder who sold out their solo shows during the fair. Below is our interview with Jame Bullough on behalf of his mini solo at Scope.

Was this your first time at Scope?  If not, what is your favorite thing about Scope? Any good stories from this year to share?

2017 was my third year in a row showing at Scope, each time with Thinkspace Gallery.  My first two years, however, I only showed one or two pieces versus the 7 that I showed this year.  Maybe because it takes place in December but I see Scope and the whole Miami Basel week as a culmination of the years work for everyone in the industry.  It’s a place where you can come and see a good percentage of the active people in the scene all in one place and see how their work has progressed since the last year (or not) and who is showing with who.  It’s kind of like a “state of the union” for the art world.  Add on top of that that many of the artists make the trip to Miami so it’s also kind of a family reunion of sorts for everyone to catch up and party and let loose to celebrate the end of another successful year.

Every day and especially every night is an adventure with that many friends in town.  There were a couple epic nights this year, the stories of which I should probably keep to myself, but one that stands out was definitely the night of the Secret Walls battle which I participated in followed by a secret birthday party for my man Alexis Diaz… that was a HEAVY night.

What did you want to push and explore whether in technique or theme in your body of work for Scope?

Showing 7 paintings at Scope allowed me to showcase a few different techniques and styles that I’ve been playing with over the past couple years.  Seeing my work online and in person are two very different experiences and I knew that more actual people would see my work in person at Scope than any other exhibition so I took the opportunity to really push each painting and show the world what I can do.  I showed 5 of my more traditional “fractured” paintings but with each of them, I pushed them further than I normally had in the past.  I added more complex backgrounds and use more complex clothing on my models and I also fractured the figures more than I normally would to really blow peoples minds.  I also worked with one model for two of my paintings who has a very intricate full sleeve tattoo which I highlighted to emphasize the technical quality of my work.  On the final two paintings, I showed a new technique I’ve been slowly incorporating into my work where it appears that the painting is peeling off of the canvas (or wood panel in my case).  When done correctly the effect is really grabbing and I enjoy watching people walk up to the painting to see if it is really peeling off or just painted to look like it is.  My work has always been about distorting or disrupting the traditional idea of portraiture so, in a way, the peeling paintings are actually no different from the fractured paintings, it’s just a different way to break up and disrupt the portrait.

Who has been a major artistic influence in your life? Not influencing your style of art, but influencing your approach to art.

There are two very different worlds that have influenced my work heavily, both in style but also approach… Graffiti and street artists, and traditional ‘Old Mastery’ type oil painters.  The two couldn’t be more opposite in many ways.  The technique, style, approach, desired outcome, target market… almost every aspect poses the two worlds against each other.  But perhaps that’s exactly why I look to both of them for my inspiration.  From the traditional oil painting worlds I take the discipline and passion for technique and detail as well as the ability to spend weeks or months on one piece until it’s absolutely just right, but if I lived only in that world all the time I would go absolutely mad.  Luckily for me, I also paint murals and am influenced by the street art world as well which is more about collaboration and working within restrictions such as time and physical limits.  When I’m working on the streets I’ve got to be much freer and more open to making adjustments on the fly.  It’s also a more physical work where I’m moving around a lot and climbing up on scaffolding or using huge machinery, versus the hours on end I sit in my studio at my easel not moving more than a few inches for an entire day.  I need both situations in my life to feel whole.

What does a cram day in the studio look like? What are you eating? How much coffee are you drinking? What are you listening to? – Did you cram to finish pieces for Scope?

Cram DAY???  more like cram month(s).  I paint slowly so I am methodical about planning things out and setting goals for finishing paintings and starting the next one.  It took me roughly 6 months to paint the 7 pieces for Scope and I was working on the last one, one-week before the show opened in Miami.  I take on average about three weeks per painting and I know if I go beyond those three weeks I’m eating into the time for the next painting so I get stressed out about every three weeks as one piece comes to an end.  In all honesty though, I’m a pretty hard worker and my studio days weather stressed or not are mostly the same.

I get in around noon after spending the morning do administrative work or going to the gym.  Then from around noon until 7 or 8 pm I’m painting solid without many brakes at all.  I try not to drink too much coffee or beer (which is extremely difficult) so i’ve switched to Yogi Tea which I’m not sure is any better and I snack on terrible cheap german snacks from the corner shop throughout the whole day, just to ensure that any work I did at the gym that morning was completely nullified.  As for what I listen to, it’s mostly NPR, and science and comedy podcasts, including the best podcast ever… VantagePoint!

What’s coming up next for you?

This year I’ll be quietly working away on a new body of work for my big solo show at Thinkspace in 2019.  I’ll also be traveling around painting murals from time to time starting off with a mural in Hawaii for Pow Wow in February followed by a few big projects I have in the works for the spring and summer.  Other than that I’ll be doing my best impersonation of a good dad and hopefully go on a family vacation for the first time in a couple years with my very supportive and patient wife.

We can’t wait to be showing more of Bullough’s work throughout the year and his solo coming in 2019!

Interview with Scott Listfield for “1984”

Scott Listfield’s latest body of work of hyper-realistic oil painting inspired by Orwell’s 1984 and his own childhood memories of the 80’s kick off Thinkspace’s 2018 project room. The single astronaut who explores various landscape eliciting self-reflection from the viewer takes a time jump to a world once familiar and distant, with an unsettling familiarity. Our interview with Scott Listfield dives deeper into the inspiration behind the show, those who have influenced his artistic growth, and posthumous collaboration.

Opening reception Saturday, January 6th from 6 pm – 9 pm.

SH: How long have you been working on this latest body of work? What themes were you exploring?
SL: Well, I’ve been painting astronauts since 1999 which, considering how fast things move these days, is basically the dawn of time. I’ve been thinking about this particular series, though, for probably about a year now. In January 0f 2017, the George Orwell novel 1984 jumped to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list, which seemed a bit curious to me, since it was written in 1949 and all. So I’d be thinking about doing a set of paintings about what 1984 meant in 2017, which touched on themes from the book, referenced the wave of nostalgia for the 80’s that we always seem to be in, pulled from memories I had as a kid growing up in the 80’s, but also maybe talked about the world we’re living in today. That’s already kind of a lot to throw into one group of paintings, so of course, I decided to also add in some references to popular music, a recurring Lamborghini Countach, and a whole hell of a lot of stripes. And it probably took me about 3-4 months to finish all the work.

SH: What is your favorite band, movie, and TV show from the 80’s?
SL: For those of you too young to remember the 80’s, it was pretty much exactly like Stranger Things. We all had BMX bikes, bowl cuts, and there was an inter-dimensional demon in our hometowns that we had to destroy. Just like Bruce Springsteen used to sing about. Anyhow, if I’m going to pick my favorites from that era, I feel like I have to choose the things that were most important to me then. Which means you’re getting 8-year-old Scott’s favorites, not necessarily the things that still resonate with me most today. Although, now that I think about it, maybe they’re the same list.

Band: Michael Jackson. Movie: Return of the Jedi. TV Show: Transformers (the cartoon, obviously).

SH: What is your favorite part of the creative process? What is your least favorite part?
SL: My favorite part is making paintings. My least favorite part is not making paintings.

SH: When painting are you listening to music or podcasts? Can you share what you were listening to while developing this body of work?
SL: I used to listen to music while in the studio, but as I’ve gotten older, and increasingly bewildered by young people’s tastes in music, I find myself listening to more podcasts. But I do still listen to a fair bit of music while I’m painting, and I had new albums by Cut Copy, Action Bronson, Yellow Days, LCD Soundsystem, and King Krule in circulation in the studio, alongside some 80’s hits by Duran Duran, Michael Jackson, Phil Collins, and Hall and Oates, which put me in the proper 1984 type of mood. As for podcasts, I listen to The Jealous Curator’s “Art For Your Ear,” one of my favorite art podcasts, and “Beyond Yacht Rock,” a podcast about yacht rock and other made up genres of music, by the guys who first coined the term, among others.

SH: Who has been one of the most influential people in your artistic development? Have they shared any advice with you other artists can apply to their work or journey?
SL: Oh jeez, I know I’m supposed to name a teacher or a mentor or something, and then fill everybody in on the most profound thing they ever said, which still resonates with me years later. But I don’t have a figure like that in my life, or at least not exactly. For a brief time in college, I became very good friends with a guy who was a couple years older than me and who had, unlike me at the time, lived a little. He had seen some things. Truthfully, he wasn’t exactly a great artist, but he was an extremely smart guy, and he told me a bunch of things I’m still unpacking years later. His name was Chris Ostoj, and unfortunately, he died young, which is sadly the way a lot of the most important people go. He used to look at my paintings and tell me, very seriously, to “Be more punk rock.” At the time, I’ll admit I didn’t exactly know what that meant, but it certainly seemed pretty bad ass, so I wrote it on my studio wall and repeated it to myself every now and again. After a while, I think I got it. And then I kind of stopped getting it. But hey, do with it what you will.

A little later on in my life, when I first started painting astronauts, I met my wife. She was my girlfriend at the time, of course, which is how that works, usually. She had studied illustration in school, while I had studied fine arts. Those two things are taught very differently, as it turns out. She looked at what I was doing, which involved essentially zero prep work and zero research and zero patience and 100% fucking around, and told me, in no uncertain terms, that I was stupid. And she was right. I learned to stop wasting time and get fucking serious about things.

Later still I met my friend Wes. It was at a time when I was making paintings of astronauts largely to throw in the back of a closet or perhaps to hang exclusively in my own home. Let’s just say that there was not exactly a lot of demand for my work back then. I was working a day job and it was hard to carve out the time to keep making paintings that almost nobody cared about. Every artist reaches this point, some many times, where they start thinking about hanging it up. Is it worth the time and the effort? Do I still like doing this enough to keep plugging away at it, even though it might never lead anywhere? I was at that point. My friend Wes would come over to my house, get kinda drunk, blunder into my studio, and proceed to tell me that he thought my paintings were better than the ones he had seen in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. He was wrong of course, and when he’d get into VERY DRUNK territory he had trouble pronouncing “Hermitage.” But at a time in my life that I needed someone to believe in my art, he was there.

SH: In the few paintings we’ve seen so far, the astronaut doesn’t seem to be as isolated as previous works. Was this a conscious choice or only our perception?
SL: Well, there are certainly more people in these paintings, although they mostly appear in the form of large billboards with the faces of Madonna and Lionel Ritchie and Huey Lewis on them. I also included, I think for the first time, a secondary recurring character – the mysterious Lamborghini Countach which appears in a number of the paintings from this show. But you never see who’s driving the car, and it’s not clear if they’re somehow aligned with our protagonist, or just lingering maliciously in the background. These also all take place in a world that feels more artificial than my normal paintings. Pink and purple skies stripes raining down from above. I don’t know, but I actually feel like the astronaut might be even more isolated in these than my previous works.

SH: Who would you want to collaborate with, dead or alive? The person can be in any area of the arts; film, dance, music, etc.
SL: Wow, I can choose a dead person? Like, I’ll take dead Einstein? Oh wait, you said arts. Huh. To be honest, I don’t do a lot of collaborating, because I’m one of those creative loner types. When I do, on occasion, though, I prefer to work with someone I consider a peer. Because the work has to make sense together, right? And if I’m being honest, I would have trouble working with someone a lot more famous than me, or a lot more dead than me, or especially both. Like if I worked with zombie Picasso and the entire art world was super excited he had come back from the dead but then they were also all like “Uh, why is zombie Picasso working with this guy who paints astronauts? Was zombie Matisse available? Or living Jeff Koons at least?”

Anyhow, let’s go with Stanley Kubrick. Or Pharell. Can I say both? Wait, David Attenborough. Final answer.

SH: When not in the studio, what would an ideal day look like?
SL: I mean, I like to be in the studio and, like a lot of artists, I tend to get a bit itchy when I’m not. But I also like to travel, and seeing new things and places and people do inspire me, both personally and artistically. So I’d say, flying off to someplace warm, exploring a city I know only a little bit, and grabbing an ice cream cone with my wife. Or, you know, fighting ninjas. One or the other.

SH: What do you think the role of art / the artist is in society?
SL: Well, that’s a big question. I hate to be simplistic, but isn’t our role to make some art? Do people ask accountants “What do you think the role of accounting is in society?” What about baristas, or systems analysts, or Uber drivers? Actually, maybe they do. But I feel like artists, more so than most, are always questioning our place in the world. And why is that? Do we need to play a role in society, or can we just, you know, make some art? And who am I to explain in one or two really long run on sentences what role all the other artists in the world should be playing?

I’m just a guy who paints astronauts. Sometimes an astronaut with a cool car in the background. Sometimes an astronaut with like, oh shit, is that Hall and Oates? And sometimes an astronaut, and somebody looking at it stops for a moment, in the middle of everything else that is going on right now in their life, and maybe or maybe not there’s something in that painting that makes them think about the world we’re all living in together just a tiny bit different. And they feel a little more connected to something, or someone, or the things I’m saying, or trying to say, in my paintings resonates with them, in some small or large way. And maybe they think about buying it, and taking it home with them, to live with, forever and ever. Or maybe they don’t. Maybe they just smile. Or maybe they ignore it and scroll to the next thing in their Instagram feed. And hey, that’s fine. I’m just making some paintings of astronauts. I hope some people like them.

So yeah. I’m answering this question in the most roundabout way possible. Of course, we have a role to play. But I’m not the one who says what it is. That’s for each of us to figure out on our own.

SH: Kicking off the new year with an exhibition is a great way to start 2018! What are your artistic plans for the rest of the year?
SL: So I am very excited to be kicking off 2018 with a show of my work that feels to me like it’s pushing things forward a bit. It’s kind of dark in tone but exceptionally bright in color. It’s politically timely but set in the 80’s. Working on these paintings did feel like the next step for me, and I’m excited to see how it shapes my paintings coming up. I’m sure I’ll spend 2018 painting more astronauts. I’ll be doing a little something with Spoke in San Francisco in June, and a show with the very talented painter Josie Morway at Antler Gallery in Portland in the fall.

 

 

SARAH JONCAS & KELLY VIVANCO “BETWIXT AND BETWEEN”

SARAH JONCAS & KELLY VIVANCO
BETWIXT AND BETWEEN
January 6, 2018 – January 27, 2018

Opening reception Saturday, January 6th from 6 to 9 pm. 

Thinkspace is pleased to present new works by Canadian artist Sarah Joncas and Southern Californian artist Kelly Vivanco in Betwixt and Between. An exhibition about the creative potential of unscripted spaces and the generative possibility of in-betweens, Joncas and Vivanco, forego the limits of the aphoristic for the contiguous freedom of the fable. Both create narrative-based works that embrace the ambiguity and imaginative potential of the subconscious. Creatively playful with elements of the surreal, they capture a feeling of melancholia and aesthetic nostalgia in their styles, Joncas with her cinematic invocation of neo-noir film and Vivanco with imagery influenced by classic fairytales and vintage illustration. Fundamentally, both artists’ work offers an intrinsic pleasure in viewing and the kind of escapism possible only in worlds that lie beyond rationally dictated limits.

Toronto-based Sarah Joncas first exhibited with the gallery in 2009 when only 19 years old. Since then, her accomplished work has developed technically and conceptually, garnering international attention for its moody stylization and emotive impact. Her portrait-based paintings focus primarily on female subjects that function as alter egos or symbolic avatars for social, psychological, and personal themes. The figurative becomes a vehicle for more existential and constructivist emphases, an armature around which to posit narrative suggestions and symbolic inferences. Always striving to create a moment of discomposure or tension in her works, Joncas aestheticizes with melancholy and melodrama, tapping into an emotionally charged visual spectrum.

Joncas began her art career intending to pursue illustration and animation, directions that clearly still inform the visual diction of her current work. Highly refined areas of figurative rendering, like the lush skin tones she achieves with oils, are combined with elements of a more graphic sensibility, executed in acrylics, to establish compelling visual tensions between realistic dimensional space and flattened stylization. An early interest in animé and manga, as well as in those neo-noir cinematic references aforementioned, helped to galvanize Joncas’ interest in character-based works. Often posited in heightened emotional contexts, her protagonists are framed by suspenseful allusions to an overarching story or caught in the midst of ambiguous or invisible unfolding scenes. This penchant for plot, mystery, and symbolism is captured in moments of dynamic stillness in which action is both suggested and seized. The surrounding elements in her works, whether animals, objects or patterns, take on concomitant meanings, further reinforcing the larger thematic intimations of her works.

Based in Escondido, California, Kelly Vivanco’s depicted world is one of fantastical tall tales and mysterious encounters. Not unlike the magical wardrobe of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia or Lewis Carroll’s Alice and her rabbit hole or fugitive fleet through the looking glass, Vivanco’s paintings themselves are thresholds. Each is an aperture into an alternate world of enigmatic episodes and apocryphal creatures, at times beatific and at others unsettlingly sinister; these storied landscapes and characters are more brooding and mysterious than flippantly whimsical. Playful and nostalgic, however, her works are far from sentimental or honeyed. Like the best fairy tales and all of their allegorical apologues, a darkness lurks in the beauty of their imaginative distortions and hyperboles.

The subconscious undeniably shapes Vivanco’s images. By exploring her figurative subjects through surreal shifts in scale and shadowy casts of mood and light, her paintings feel like their drawn from the recesses of dream. Psychologically inflected, the depictions of her characters range from the lighthearted to the more somber and foreboding. Vivanco works primarily in acrylic on panel and canvas, and her stylized hand is immediately recognizable, as is her signature palette of muted and darkened vintage-inspired colors. The speculative scenes she stages remain slightly intangible; we are given moments from a more substantial story that is then left to our imaginative work to unfold. The mystery lingers in these captures, as little is explicitly unraveled but rather implied. In addition to her fine art practice, Vivanco has been commissioned to illustrate children’s books, including Snow White and the Red Rose in 2014 and her second, Thumbelina, in 2016.

Both Joncas and Vivanco, though distinctly different in their unique styles, share an interest in the tangential work of the subconscious and all of its surreal textures and, potential, looking to the symbolism of the strange and relinquishing control of these mysterious spaces to the unscripted nature of its “in-betweens.” The ambiguity of their worlds is one in which enigmatic encounters remain partially unseen, and the suspenseful irresolution of the unknown lingers; whether through allegory or avatar, both Joncas and Vivanco look to the openings rather than the seams.

 

THANK YOU FOR THE MEMORIES SCOPE 2017!

Thank you to everyone that came through our booth with SCOPE this past week in Miami during Art Basel. Was so nice to reconnect with past patrons and to meet so many new fans of our space and program.

A big round of applause goes out to the entire staff of SCOPE on another stellar year on Miami Beach. Many thanks as well to all our exhibiting artists for delivering such beautiful and meaningful works.

Kudos are due to both James Bullough and Michael Reeder who SOLD OUT their solo shows at our booth during the fair. We can not wait until our solo shows with both incredible talents here in LA in 2018/2019. More details on those two highly anticipated exhibitions shared soon.

Excited to share that we placed over 70 original works of art this past week in Miami, a great many to new patrons. A simply incredible week to say the least and we can not thank you all enough for your support.

Just wait until you see what we have in store for 2018. Have a safe and happy holiday season everyone!

– Andrew Hosner
Co-Owner / Curator

Matthew Grabelsky Creates the Cover Art for Moby’s New Album “Everything Was Beautiful, And Nothing Hurt”

We’re so excited to share the announcement for Moby’s new album,  Everything Was Beautiful, And Nothing Hurt because Thinkspace Family artist Matthew Grabelsky was commissioned to do the album art. The new album from Moby features on the cover Grabelsky’s signature father and child on the subway composition, with the title of the album, reflected on the book the young calf is reading.

Visit Rolling Stone’s website for the full album announcement, and the Thinkspace Projects to view more works by Matthew Grabelsky.

Last year, Thinkspace Family artist Kevin Peterson was the album artist for Red Hot Chili Peppers Getaway. 

Music and art, they go together like the sun and the moon.

 

 

Instagram Round Up : Scope Art Miami 2017 Edition

Our flights are booked, a crate has been shipped, and we’re headed out to Miami for Scope Art and the Juxtapoz Clubhouse. We will be presenting mini- solos showing new work from Michael Reeder and James Bullough, mini-profiles with new pieces from DotDotDot, Lauren Brevner, Sergio Garcia, & Wiley Wallace, in addition to forty plus twelve by twelve pieces from the Thinkspace Family.

Our mission continues to be to expose and introduce the New Contemporary Art movement to art lovers and show the vast burgeoning talent within the movement. Follow a few of the talented artist who we will be showing at Scope Art Miami on Instagram for a “behind the scene” look into their studios, works in progress, and life as an artist – they might even share their Miami antics on their InstaStory.

Follow Michael Reeder at @reederone on Instagram

Follow James Bullough at @james_bullough on Instagram

Detail of ‘Dust’. Another of the pieces I’ll be showing in Miami next week at Scope with @thinkspace_art

A post shared by James Bullough (@james_bullough) on

Follow DotDotDot at @dotdotdot on Instagram

…drying up!

A post shared by DOT DOT DOT (@dotdotdot) on

Follow Lauren Brevner at @laurenbrevner on Instagram

Follow Wiley Wallace at @WileyWallace on Instagram

A post shared by Wiley Wallace (@wileywallace) on

Follow Sergio Garcia at @_SergioGarcia_ on Instagram

Brooklyn Street Art Talks with BEZT for Beautiful Mistakes

Bezt Etam. “Beautiful Mistakes”. The artist is pictured here looking at his self-portrait. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art connected with Bezt while in New York for the exhibition Beautiful Mistakes at Spoke Art NYC. The feature is a great piece that walks with Bezt as he discusses the work in the show in addition to his creative process with longtime collaborator Sainer (who work as a duo under the moniker Etam Cru), visit the Brooklyn Street Art website for the full article.

Sometimes a portrait is actually the means to an end, rather than the focal point, just so he has the opportunity to paint something new. “For example the painting with the woman and the daughter piece, that one with the house. I wanted to paint the trees! I had a night photo of the trees and I said ‘Okay, I need an idea so I can paint the trees.’ – Brooklyn Street Art

Visit the Brooklyn Street Art website for the full piece.