Interview with Fuco Ueda for “Elysium”

Tokyo-based surrealist artist Fuco Ueda’s dreamy new pieces for the group exhibition Elysium continues to showcase her ethereal acrylic paintings mixed with Japan Gofun shell powder that gives her work a unique glow. The movement in Ueda’s work is weightless reflected in the flowing waterscapes she’s created in her latest body of work.  Our interview with Fuco Ueda reveals the inspiration and creative heart behind the pieces.

Join us for the opening of Elysium Saturday, November 10th from 6 pm to 9 pm

SH: What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? What ideas or themes were you exploring?

JL: “To fall asleep” is inspired by the Buddhist Nirvana diagram. The Buddhist Nehan-zu (painting of Great Nirvana) draws the way the Buddha opens enlightenment and dies. Cambrian creatures are floating in “To fall asleep”. It expresses the flow of the world different from the current flow of time.

Communication II

SH: How do you approach developing a new body of work and capture ideas for pieces; do you have a sketchbook on hand or is it just a note to yourself in your phone?

JL: I went to see the Buddhist Nehan-zu at a museum in Kyoto.
After reading and researching books on the subject, I will then draw simple outlines in my sketchbook developing and honing the ideas over time.

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

JL: Finding inspiration and watching the composition emerge.

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

JL: When the idea and image of my art is not clear.

Symbiosis 2017

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?

JL: “To fall asleep” and “Symbiosis 2017”
Because it pushed through some creative challenges I had imposed on myself. (However, I don’t think anyone would be able to detect the struggle)

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

JL: All arts are a dream collaboration. I’d enjoy collaborating with music, movies, theater, fashion, and other fields. I am also interested in my artwork being used in media art and technology.

Herald

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?

JL: I have been influenced by Japanese literature since I was a child. In addition, I’ve also been influenced by vintage Japanese comics, especially those made for the 1970s girl in Japan. At that time, it was an unconventional media showing cultural movements including SF, fantasy and homosexual elements, it had innovative content. The new female image was nurtured in those comics.

SH: What’s in your toolbox? AKA what paints, brushes, tools would we find in your studio? What do you wish was in your studio?

JL: I put a canvas of cloth on a wooden panel, it has a painted base. This is a traditional white paint raw materials of Japan Gofun (shell powder) is also crowded mix. I paint with acrylic paint.

To Fall Asleep

SH: After a show what do you do? Do you take a long break, vacation, a particular ritual? Tell us.

JL: From this year, I became a teacher at a certain Art University in Tokyo, I enjoy those class. That is the University of my alma mater.

SH: In one or two words, tell us something that you really like or resonates with you about the work of each artist in Elysium.

JL: I have not been able to see the exhibits of other artists yet. However, I think that it is surely a wonderful group show. I am planning to go to LA at the opening, so I’m looking forward to seeing the exhibits.

 

 

Group Exhibition “Elysium” Featuring Audrey Kawasaki, Fuco Ueda, Atsuko Goto, Jolene Lai, and Stella Im Hultberg in Main Room, November 10th – November 24th

Group Exhibition – ELYSIUM
featuring new works from
AUDREY KAWASAKI
FUCO UEDA
ATSUKO GOTO
JOLENE LAI
STELLA IM HULTBERG 
Opening Reception:
THIS Saturday, November 10 from 6-9PM

AUDREY KAWASAKI 

Audrey Kawasaki is a Japanese-American artist currently living and working in Los Angeles. She attended the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY where she was influenced by Manga and art nouveau. Her work depicts sensuous young women on wood panel, with a strong emphasis on line quality and facial expression.

The themes in Audrey Kawasaki’s work are contradictions within themselves. Her work is both innocent and erotic. Each subject is attractive yet disturbing. Her sharp graphic imagery is combined with the natural grain of the wood panels she paints on, bringing forth unexpected warmth to enigmatic subject matter.

The figures she paints are seductive and contain an air of melancholy. They exist in their own sensually esoteric realm, yet at the same time present a sense of accessibility that draws the observer to them.

FUCO UEDA 

The Tokyo-based Ueda creates surreal paintings of enigmatic girls in strangely beautiful incandescent dreamscapes. With larger than life flowers and creatures ranging from moray eels to butterflies, her paintings are like apparitions pulled from the shadowy depths of the subconscious. Her mischievous adventurers are innocent and devious, at times playful and others sinister, suspended somewhere between the waking world and the beyond. An inscrutable universe of lush neon chrysanthemums and florid skins, Ueda’s world is a hallucinatory daydream.

Ueda’s works convey the lonely meditative feeling of dreams, a world set apart from the existence of others and self-sustained by isolated dread and reverie. At times a darkness pervades with recurring symbols like skeletal hands and the fiery orbs, or hitodama, of Japanese folklore, thought to be the souls of the dead. Another recurring symbol that figures prominently in her works is the chrysanthemum, also a symbol of loss, death, and vulnerability. These surreal apparitions reinforce a sense of displacement and transience. Her lithe figures, often charged with a cryptic eroticism, dissolve into the webs of these conjured worlds; like figments crossing over into ghostly recesses.

The tone of Ueda’s works tends to shift towards a lighter and more whimsical extreme as well. Her girls are often surrounded by small birds, butterflies, underwater creatures, beribboned pets, and dazzling flora, in dreamily abstracted landscapes that seem to glow and hum with weird life. The combination of these light and dark extremes is often unexpected, and psychologically evocative. Beautifully illustrated girls drip with honey and bare skinned knees, while snakes, fish, cobwebs, and bright fungi surround and shroud them. Contrasts abound in her choice of palettes as well, with the mixture of deeply pigmented hues, dark blacks, bright neons and iridescent pastel purples and blues.

ATSUKO GOTO 

Atsuko Goto creates beautifully melancholic images of delicate figures cloaked and merged with natural elements, everything from flowers and butterflies to insects, birds, and fish. Her muted palette is as ghostly as haze, achieved through the unique application of diluted pigments made from semi-precious lapis lazuli, ink, and gum arabic applied to cotton.

Inspired by Japanese Shinto and the belief that nature is animated by divinity and sacred spirits harbored in every living and inanimate thing, Goto creates imagery that conveys this feeling of profuse life force and intangible mystery, offset by a darker suggestion of mourning and lament. Quietly meditative, her works exude a dreamlike calm and resignation despite their abundance of detail and the density of her compositions. Silence and forlorn composure define this existence of the preternatural.

Fragile in their tempered darkness, the works are subtle and near translucent – like the unknown light and strange optics of an otherworldly plane where everything is unsubstantial. A feeling of entrapment and isolation persists, however, in the quietude. Like hauntings from the subconscious, the paintings feel like faded dreams, surreal distortions bordering on the ominous. Unsettling, the muted beauty of these diaphanous idols loom, uncannily caught in a thin veil between worlds.

JOLENE LAI

Jolene Lai is a Los Angeles-based artist and illustrator born and raised in Singapore. After studying painting at Lasalle-SIA College of the Arts in Singapore, Jolene studied graphic design at UCLA and spent a year working at a movie-poster design house, The Refinery Creative, before returning to focus on fine art.

She works primarily with oil on canvas or mixed media on watercolor paper. With bold use of color, shape and intricate detail, she creates images with a seductive aesthetic and subject matter that weaves in emotions of whimsy, melancholy, irony, and absurdity.

Lai seeks to engage her audience in works that are approachable, newly imagined spaces that the viewer is invited to explore on their own terms.

STELLA IM HULTBERG 

Stella Im Hultberg was born in South Korea, raised in Seoul, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and later in California. She studied Industrial Design and worked as a product designer before serendipitously falling into the art world in late 2005. Stella Im Hultberg’s paintings are conceived in varying combinations of ink, watercolor, and oils on paper, wood, and canvas. Her portraits of women are rendered in easy, flowing lines with soft hues that transcend the typical critiques of feminine beauty, inherent in today’s self-conscious society.

Hultberg originally studied Industrial Design at CSU, which naturally segued into work as a toy designer early on in her career. Work in the design industry serendipitously led to her building on her natural talents as an artist and a career as a self-taught painter soon followed. Having grown up in Hong Kong, Korea, and Taiwan, she has a diverse blend of cultural influences to pull from.

When not painting or drawing, she likes to eat, ride her bicycle, and play the New York Times crossword puzzle. After a decade in NYC, she now lives (and works) in Portland OR with her daughter and husband.

 

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.

Opening Saturday October 13th Lisa Ericson’s “Border Crossing”

Lisa Ericson
Border Crossing
October 13, 2018 – November 3, 2018

Concurrently on view in the Thinkspace project room are new works by Portland-based artist Lisa Ericson in Border Crossing. Ericson’s meticulously rendered, hyperrealistic paintings are executed in acrylic on panel with the use of minute detailing brushes. She depicts supernatural amalgams of wild animals, everything from the surreal winged rodents she’s fondly coined ‘mouser-flies,’ to entire, parasitical ecosystems perched weightlessly upon the backs of other creatures, each dramatically set against pitch black backgrounds. Technically breathtaking, the works are optically dizzying in their depth, color, intensity, and contrast. In Ericson’s universe visual poetry abounds: a tree of monarchs emerges fantastically from the shell of a placid turtle host, while an entire miniature coral reef drags close behind on a beta’s fins.

Ericson’s works playfully consider the order and balance of natural bodies and systems through their reconfiguration. Recognizing the delicacy and interdependence of all natural infrastructures, the artist plays with their improbable remix, altering proportion and scale to fictional extremes. Through the creation of often whimsical hybrids, she considers the beginnings and ends of individual boundaries and collective frontiers, looking to the generative potential of thresholds and crossovers. Through the recombination of familiar parts, entirely new, beautifully abhorrent travelers are brought to life in Ericson’s composite creature worlds.

Interview with The Perez Bros

We’re excited to bring The Perez Bros in the Thinkspace fold, showing a few pieces from the duo in the Thinkspace office this month. The Perez Bros are identical twin brothers Alejandro and Vicente (born 1994) from South Gate, CA. After graduating from South East High School, they attended Otis College of Art and Design to pursue a degree in Fine Art focusing on painting. At Otis is where they began to work together as a collaboration duo.

They were exposed to Los Angeles’s car culture at a very young age, their father being a part of a lowrider car club for as long as they can remember. Fascinated with the culture, from the cars to the models, from the people to the music; through their paintings, they try and capture moments they witness at car shows. Larger paintings seem to invoke the mood and feeling of these car events, while smaller paintings encapsulate more intimate scenes. Through their work, they aim to bring the viewer into their world and a part of a culture that is their second home.

Get to know The Perez Bros better below…

SH: How do you approach developing a new body of work?
PB: To be honest, we converse a lot daily, and within those conversations, different ideas come up and we agree and act upon them pretty quickly.

SH: Where do you source inspiration? What are some of your favorite spots to take photo reference at?
PB: We don’t really look at other artists for inspiration, instead we get inspired by music. We’re influenced by song lyrics and watching interviews of our favorite artists. We hope that our audience is able to relate to us and our work, like people relate to music and artists. We get all of our photo references at car shows; particularly Lowrider shows and Mustang events.

SH: What excites you about your work / creative process?
PB: Actually every part of our creative process excites us. We enjoy attending car
show events and taking pictures of the cars and people. We also enjoy every step that comes after: going through our photos and deciding which ones would make great paintings, building our canvases, applying the gesso, and then actually creating the painting. But what we enjoy the most is completing a painting and seeing our ideas come to life.

SH: What frustrates you about your work / creative process?
PB: One thing that frustrates us is when we attend a car event and we don’t find
anything interesting or inspiring to photograph. We leave the car event empty handed with no photo references for future paintings.

SH: When did the two of you first start working together as a duo?
PB: We first started to work together in our sophomore year at Otis College. We had an assignment to collaborate with someone in our painting class taught by Scott Grieger, which we naturally chose to team up together. After that, it became clear to us that this is what we should be doing.

SH: Who is an artist; musician, director, any art form – who would be a dream collaboration for you and what would you create?
PB: Definitely Kid Cudi. He inspires us every day. A dream of ours is to create the
artwork for one of his albums.

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?
PB: Our High School art teacher Ms. Tinajero influenced us to apply to art school, so we would say she definitely had a big significance in leading us to where we’re at now. She believed in our talent and always pushed us to work harder. We applied to Otis College and got accepted. Attending art school helped us find our voice and take our art seriously. Without Ms. Tinajero and Otis College, we don’t think we would be where we are at right now.

SH: What’s in your toolbox? AKA what paints, brushes, tools would we find in your studio? What do you wish was in your studio?
PB: In our studio you would find a lot of Liquitex acrylic paint and gesso, brushes, raw canvas, stretcher bar tools. Just your basic tools to create acrylic paintings on canvas. You would also find a Bluetooth speaker, because music is a must. A tv and video games for when we need a break from painting. And a mini fridge and microwave, because artists also have to eat.

SH: Does your background noise influence the mood of the pieces? What’s on repeat in the studio at the moment?
PB: Yea, music has a big influence on our work. We can’t work on a painting without having music playing in the background. At the moment we have Kid Cudi, Mac Miller, Travis Scott, Interpol, and The Strokes playing in a constant rotation.