Interview with Jacub Gagnon for ‘Short Stories’

Thinkspace is proud to present Jacub Gagnon’s latest body of work ‘Short Stories’ which will include a departure from Gagnon’s classic black and include a few pieces that have a stark white background. This will be Canadian artist Gagnon’s third solo exhibition with us showing his work that pushes playful juxtapozition by pairing familiar animals and everyday objects to create scenes that delight and induce wonder.  In anticipation of Gagnon’s upcoming exhibition with us, we have an exclusive interview with Jacub Gagnon to discuss parenthood, thoughts on the new contemporary art movement, creative process, and his desire to be a professional schmoozer. Short Stories opening reception is from 6 – 9 pm this coming Saturday, April Ist in our main room

SH: You’re a new parent! How have you been balancing parenting and painting?
JG: I’m not sure the word balance can be attributed to my effort in wrapping up work on this show and being a new parent, maybe a juggling of sort? It has been tough to say the least, the months leading up to a big show are my busiest. My wife has been amazing in stepping up and pulling her share of parenting weight and mine during this time. Neither of us have been sleeping much these past couple months, but I must say I’m looking forward to the show so that I may take spend family time with them afterward and give my wife a chance to catch up on her sleep.

SH: What themes or ideas were you exploring in this latest body?
JG: I like to tackle a wide range of themes in my work, some may seem trivial while others poignant or deeply personal. You will find unlikely tales of comradery, loss of loved ones, innocence, hard truths, and as always my imagination running amok! There is an overarching theme of the human presence though never a human present. Each painting is a a glimpse of a much greater narrative that I welcome the viewer to build upon with their own imagination.

SH: Walk us through a day in the studio?
JG: Lately I’ve been getting my best work done in the early hours of the morning, around midnight to 7AM is kind of the sweet spot, the house is quieter and there are less distractions on the whole. Coffee proceeds most things in the morning, it’s my main mission once out of bed and it’s always in hand upon entering my studio in the morning. I like to sip away while catching up on current events in both the world news and the art world. When time was a little more free I’d take this opportunity to check messages and reply to emails but this aspect of my work always slips a little while working intently to finish a show. With blinds open and blaring daylight LED bulbs on, I set up my painting area and throw on any music or current show that I’m watching. I paint all day/night and lately just stop for food breaks, to take the dog out, or to spend a few moments with my wife and son. I can easily spend 15-18 hour stretches in the studio though and that has been much of my daily routine for the past 3+ months.

SH: What excites you about another artist’s work?
JG: I have a lot of anticipation for upcoming shows of artists that I admire and follow, that always excites me. As of late I haven’t made it out to many shows, so a lot of my excitement comes from social media. I’ll see something that surprises me or catches my eye and there’s often this feeling of inspiration that immediately makes me want to start painting or working on a new idea, it’s a great feeling.

SH: How does is it feel to be an active artist who is a part of the new contemporary art movement? How do you think it will be documented in art history? Give us your one liner.
JG: Unfortunately, I don’t believe this movement in art history will be very romanticized, ingenuity and innovation aside, I think it will be remembered as a reflection of an ever-changing/growing technologically and politically distraught time where vanity is at odds with morality and we’re all drinking the kool-aid from Duchamp’s Fountain. I’m not a cynic by nature, just shy on sleep, I swear.

SH: You’ve stated your creative process tends to change and evolve. What is your current process?
JG: For this show, I made a list of animals I wanted to paint and a list of themes/stories I wanted to tell. Everything didn’t fall into place at once, I still had to work for the narrative and the image to emerge, but it helped me flesh out a number of new pieces and make sense of things. I’ll definitely try this again in the future.

SH: Do you experience creative blocks? If so how do you push through it and find new inspiration?
JG: Creative blocks happen, I try not to let them hold me back for long. I find a good way to jump-start things is to flip through my old sketchbooks – start where things first began. Old ideas, failed or not, breathe new life. Half fleshed out thoughts that didn’t amount to anything at the time help to make new connections and inspire new creations.

 

SH: If you work was translated into a cocktail what would it taste like? What would it be made of?
JG: My guess is It would taste like a magical mystery tour of the senses. It would consist of lots of bourbon, a hint of coffee bean, essence of baby bunny and tiny giraffe. And of course this cocktail would be served in a teacup balanced on top of a coyote and lit aflame by a hummingbird. Oh, and the rim of the teacup would be coated in powdered Cocoa Puffs!

SH: What were you listening to while creating this latest body of work, music, podcasts, Netflix?
JG: I jump around from music to audio books to movies/TV shows. I must say, Netflix has been very helpful to play in the background lately, it’s convenient and I love that it will just keep playing on it’s own. I find that when I need to focus I can’t watch something new on Netflix, having already seen a show allows me to still enjoy it but not pay full attention. Most recently I burned through all of the ‘X-Files’ which was a nice flashback.

SH: You’ve shared you never intended on being an artist, but applied to OCAD, was accepted, and the rest is history. For your college days, what was the most valuable information you received? What did you have to learn on your own?
JG: I’m not sure I can say the single most valuable information I received, but I had a professor that really took me to task during the critique of my work urging me to not follow in other’s footsteps, but to find my own style. At the time my work resembled Dali-esque landscapes, not original in themselves but it was the beginning of my journey into surrealism and I worked hard on them. I took her advice and found my own style, it helped bring me to where I am today artistically. As for what I learned on my own, there was not a lot of technique taught, I learned much of my style by putting in long hours and through trial and error.

SH: If you weren’t painting, what would yoube doing instead?
JG: I would like to be a professional schmoozer. I would shmooze with high profile clients with a no-holds-barred attitude, doing anything necessary to ‘make the deal’, making both client and employer happy. My wife insists that’s not the job title, but ‘I’ insist that my business card if ever I venture into the subtle and artful world of schmoozery would read in large, bold print, “Professional Shmoozer”.

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