Interview with Yosuke Ueno for “But Beautiful”

Thinkspace is pleased to present new works by Japanese artist Yosuke Ueno in But Beautiful. Ueno is a self-taught painter based out of Tokyo, and is known for his imaginative, character-driven worlds created in symbolic pursuit of innocence, hope, and positivity.  In anticipation of his upcoming exhibition, our interview with Yosuke Ueno explores the inspiration behind But Beautiful, his creative challenges, and dream collaboration.

Join us for the opening of But Beautiful, Saturday, August 4th from 6 – 9 pm.

SH: How do you approach developing a new body of work? Were there specific themes or techniques you wanted to explore in “But Beautiful”?
YU: Some artworks in this show are based on studies of traditional Japanese paintings. I have been collecting Ukiyoe books and getting many inspirations from those books. Compositions and motifs of those masterpieces can be seen in my works.

The title of this show is a quotation from Bill Evans music. I have no idea what he wanted to tell in the title, but this title seems to have an important meaning for the present world. Every negative sentence could be happier with these two words at the end.

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?
YU: In this show, I will show few of vertically longer pieces. Those shapes are inspired by Japanese Kakejiku (hanging scrolls). Pigments on paper is a normal style of traditional Kakejiku, but I have tried to reconstruct those originally with acrylic colors on canvas.

SH: Where do you source inspiration?
YU: As I told above, some inspirations are from Japanese Ukiyoe, and I got inspirations from Sukajan (Japanese Souvenir Jacket) as well. Embroideries of those jackets are beautiful arts. I painted animals and skulls with my own interpretation of Ukiyone, and I enjoyed doing that.

SH: How do you capture ideas for pieces; do you have a sketchbook on hand or is it just a note to yourself in your phone?
YU: I always get a small notebook with me, putting every single idea on it. However, I have no idea when and which one of those would come up with an artwork. I also use iPad to make some drawings. For me, there’s no difference between analog and digital in terms of getting ideas output.

SH: How do you plan out your compositions?
YU: I have been devoted to ones seen in Japanese paintings recently. I am interested in how to “paint” empty space.

SH: What excites you about your work / creative process?
YU: My favorite part is the painting process. I make drawing on the canvas first, but I always come up with new components as I paint. That’s exactly what I am excited, I like the way that canvas shows me many different faces as my brushes run over it.

SH: Who is an artist; musician, director, any art form – who would be a dream collaboration for you and what would you create?
YU:  I would like to collaborate with fashion brands, like my art embroidery on clothes.

Interview with Alex Garant for “Voyage of The Insomniac”

Thinkspace is pleased to present Voyage of The Insomniac, featuring new works by Toronto-based, Canadian, Québéquois artist Alex Garant. A painter known for her hyper-realistically rendered portraits in which the faces and eyes of her subjects seem to skip their registers through image redoubling and superimposition. In anticipation of Voyage of The Insomniac, our interview with Alex Garant discusses the exhibitions challenging work, an explanation for the compositions movement, and the catalyst for her artistic journey.

Join us Saturday, August 4th for the opening reception of Voyage of The Insomniac, from 6 pm to 9 pm at Thinkspace in Culver City.

SH: How do you approach developing a new body of work? Were there specific themes or techniques you wanted to explore in “Voyage of the Insomniac”?
AG: Voyage of the Insomniac was a very personal series. For the past couple of years, I have been experiencing bouts of insomnia, and I have been struggling with sleeping well. Unfortunately, I am the kind of individual who needs a lot of sleep. The lack of Z’s ended up putting me through quite a few days of hazy wakefulness, in a sort of automated trance. This collection is inspired by those days; the awaken hours passing by, lost between overstimulation and mental confusion. Trying to find beauty in overthinking and attempting to embrace the haze.
The collection is a total of 13 new paintings, 12 of them representing each hour between midnight and noon and a 13th painting (The 13th Hour) representing the eternity of a sleepless moment.

SH: Is there a symbolic significance to the double vision aspect of your work?
AG: Many people say it’s hard to look at yet is what draws the viewer to the piece. For me, the vibrancy is a visual representation of breathing, living, experiencing one’s self. In regards to this specific collection, I would compare this to a mirror reflection experience. When you are so sleep deprived and walk in front of a mirror, you look at yourself and wonder: Is this me? Is this what I look like? Is this how people see me? Then you smile, thinking, I can look decent, and then you stare into your own soul, witnessing your own struggles. That duality is what I am trying to represent in my imagery.

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?
AG: My favorite piece for this show is “The 13th Hour”. Strangely enough, this is the last piece I worked on for the show; I find I was able to capture the emotion from which this entire series started. Whenever I produce a larger body of work in a condensed period, I find myself learning a lot, on a technical level but also how to translate the intangible ideas into something others can see. This painting is the most direct visual translation of what was on my mind at that moment.

SH: Where do you source inspiration?
AG: It depends, sometimes, I have ideas of colors or patterns I want to try, most of the time, it is more of an emotion I am trying to render. I strive to get all my inspirations from within myself and avoid getting influenced by external sources like social media or anything of that nature.

SH: How do you capture ideas for pieces; do you have a sketchbook on hand or is it just a note to yourself in your phone?
AG: I do a lot of little doodles. My first ideas are often little stick figures and some simple lines just to help me remember the idea. I will grab anything close to me, napkin, notebook or sketchpad. I also have a few very silly notes on my phone such as “Boy with red lines,” or “snooze roosters,” I don’t think it would make sense for anyone but me hahaha.

SH: How do you plan out your compositions?
AG: I am very attracted to symmetry and balance, resulting in my compositions being very simple and slightly stiff. I don’t like to add elements for the sake of adding stuff. I prefer a minimalist approach to my pieces. I want the viewer to have a one-on-one encounter with the character painted, without distraction. I want the viewer to relate to the subject, projecting his/her own experience.

SH: What excites you about your work / creative process?
AG: I love sketching, I love the early steps of the process, refining the idea, drawing the preliminary composition, etc. I am also learning to love the detailing process at the end. Adding texture and mini glazes.

SH: What frustrates you about your work / creative process?
AG: Sometimes, an idea is so great in your mind, but then you just can’t put it down on paper, or you start painting it, and the whole thing turns muddy. It happens a lot, and over the years, I still struggle to let go of a piece once I start working on it; eventually, some pieces don’t make the cut and will be destroyed. I want to stay humble and always keep learning. For that to happen, it is important to push yourself and experiment while producing new works. This improvement process sometimes results in not-so-great art. Instead of getting frustrated, I need to learn to accept the lesson, absorb the learning and move on with the new skills (hopefully) acquired.

SH: What is an aspect of other’s artwork that really excites you, what are you drawn too?
AG: I am a huge art fan girl. I worship anyone one who comes up with ideas, concepts, and images I could never think of. I love colors and bold lines, I am a huge fan of Michael Reeder, Benjamin Cook, David Cook, Ryan Heshka, Travis Louie, Dan Lam, Richard Ahnert, Jeremy Okai Davis, Tina Lugo, 1010, Double Parlour, Caitlin T. McCormack and I could just keep on going and going… I love new ideas and people who master their own craft.

SH: Who is an artist; musician, director, any art form – who would be a dream collaboration for you and what would you create?
AG: Sooooo many ideas. I really want to do more collaborative projects this year. Indie movies and musicians. Weirdly, I would love to do some kind of painting/ collab with Gucci. I have been loving their social media editorial content lately.
Also, I am currently working on a print collab with artist Paul Jackson I am super excited about.

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?
AG: When I turned 30, I suffered a massive heart attack, and it truly changed my life. I felt reborn and refocused on what is important. I suddenly knew I needed to direct my energy towards art and that it was my true calling. I also understood that living passionately was key. Time is the only currency we are all running out of. So, this sense of urgency started translating into everything I do. No time to wait or to be hesitant. You must commit and keep fighting.

Interview with TikToy for “Timewarp”

Thinkspace is proud to present Timewarp featuring new works by Netherlandish artists TikToy in the project room. The exhibition is the artist’s first solo project with Thinkspace, and will showcase the artist’s surreal character clock sculptures that possess psychedelic cuckoo fixtures. Inspired by the aesthetic freedom of street art, pop surrealism, and graffiti, his cartoon-inspired, sculptural interventions are staged throughout cities worldwide in unexpected recesses and its less-traveled nooks. In anticipation of Timewarp our interview with TikToy explores the allure of the street, the constant stream of ideas, and the desire for just a little more time with his clocks.

SH: How do you approach developing a new body of work? Were there specific themes or techniques you wanted to explore in ‘Time Warp’.
TT: When I take a piece of wood I try to create a shape that’s organic. Kind of like when I do a throw up with a spray can. There doesn’t have to be symmetry.  What is important is that it looks and feels good to me. The shapes come while working. I take a look at the way the wood goes and the shapes follow. When I have sawn a clock I like, the painting begins. I love different patterns and colors. The challenge is to combine the different patterns and colors into a coherent whole. This process comes to me at the same as I’m making the shapes. There is no fixed plan. While working I do what feels good and the rest follows
The most important thing for me was translating my street work into work that is worthy of hanging in a gallery. Street art, of course, can be very temporary. Sometimes my work only stays in the street for a few days. I want to keep this contemporary street art flow alive in my work but also take it to a next level so it will stay in someones home and last much longer.

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?
TT: The work I’m the proudest of in this exhibition is “Jan”. It has been a real struggle to get it to something that felt correct and good. It’s a piece that has been on top of my closet for some time and I just didn’t get to finish it. The shape was a burden but after finishing other works I got more inspiration on which way to go. The work has induced both a laughter and a tear for me. It shows emotion which grabs me. Also, the different structures and changes in this clock are pretty cool to me.

SH: Where do you source inspiration?
TT: Clocks in general. But of course, also the old cuckoo clocks the most. On top of a cuckoo clock is very often a deer. That’s where the idea came from to put antlers on my clocks. I have always had a big fascination for squeaky toys from the 60’s and also my collection of designer toys. They can be very colorful and often a bit absurd. I love the crazy and chaotic. You can find that in my work too. Making art is a way to escape and not go crazy. In the past, I have felt down at times and making art helped me to get to inner myself. Creating new pieces and hanging them in the city helps me get going. Itś a way to process my emotions.

SH: How do you capture ideas for pieces: do you have a sketchbook on hand or is it just a note to yourself in your phone?
TT: I’ve got lots of different sketchbooks. and loose papers laying around my house, atelier, car etc. I just draw on everything actually. Im very chaotic and tend to loose everything. I also use my phone for notes or pictures. Or I send a message to my wife about new ideas. Who by the way gets crazy over all my stuff I leave everywhere around the house.

SH: How do you plan out your compositions?
TT: See first question and answer

SH: What excite you about your work/creative proces?
TT: The interaction between my work and people in the street. The high amount of time I put in my work which is mostly very contemporary is something people appreciate. That appreciation is what drives me. Thats why I keep looking for new ways to create this interaction. As an example, I just made a clock that whistles as people pass by.

In the past I used to do graffiti. That’s where I got my kick from. The tension of doing illegal things, doing what your not supposed to do, setting off against society – is the same kick I experience now in doing my street art. When I get back home early in the morning from working nights, it fuels me for the coming weeks

SH: What frustrates you about your work/creative proces?
TT: It frustrates me when I have worked long on a piece and it gets removed soon, broken, or stolen. It’s a pity but comes with leaving your work in the streets. Especially when I put my work in a difficult spot. It can be a bummer. But the streets will always be my gallery.

When it comes to my gallery work the arrow of the clock hand can be frustrating. It can be very laborious to get them the shape I want. There is a lot of swearing involved.

The most frustrating to me is my lack of time. It’s all done in the spare minutes and hours I find at evening/night. I would kill for a month with only time for creation.

SH: What is an aspect of other’s artwork that really excites you, what are you draw to?
TT: I can really enjoy still life painting. The perfection in these paintings can make me look at them for hours.

SH: Who is an artist: musician, director, any art dorm who would be a dream collaboration for you and what would you create?
TT: Dran, he’s a draftsman and graffiti artist. His work is really catchy. Funny, simple but really good thought out drawing. In a blink, you can see what his work means. I would love to combine a figure of him in 3D in a clock.
Also, I would like to make bigger spatial objects. In stead of a big mural, create big 3D clocks that’s movement is generated by wind.

SH: Has there been someone or some event that has made a significant imact on you that lead you to where you are now?
TT: As a kid, I was always challenging myself. Always creating, drawing, painting, sculpting etc. At first, my parents wouldn’t let me go to art school. I had to do a “real” profession. Later on, I did go to art school but dropped out in the first year. It wasn’t for me. There was not enough freedom in doing work. I wanted to do my own thing. So I proceeded in doing street work and painting canvasses. I have many different styles but the clocks and arrows ar always coming back. Like a red line in my life.

Since my daughter was born I started making the 3D clocks. I didn’t want to take the risk of getting caught for graffiti. So I had to find something else. Although this also is not completely legal. The streets just keep calling me.

Opening Reception of Vitality and Verve III Featured in Cartwheel Art

Online magazine Cartwheel Art featured the opening reception of Vitality and Verve III: Transforming the Urban Landscape at the Long Beach Museum of Art.

Each artist’s installation is activated by the space it occupies and the work it sits next to. Occupying both floors of the museum’s galleries, it is nearly impossible to view one artist’s installation on it’s own, without seeing another out of the corner of your eye. This aspect of the exhibit challenges you to experience the layers of artworks as they bounce off one another and consume the space in totality. – Cartwheel Art

Visit their website to view the full review and photos of the event, EVENT PHOTO COVERAGE: Opening Reception of Vitality and Verve III: Transforming the Urban Landscape, at Long Beach Museum of Art. 

Vitality and Verve III: Transforming the Urban Landscape is on view now through September 29th at the Long Beach Museum of Art.

Visit the Thinkspace Projects website for more information here

Alex Garant Featured in Live Fast Magazine

Online fashion and lifestyle magazine Live Fast featured our August exhibiting artist Alex Garant earlier this year. The pieces highlight Garant’s artistic journey and hypnotizing work.

To immerse yourself in Garant’s ethereal work is to notice the luminous way she drenches her subjects in light, her otherworldly washes of color, how her women look directly at you with a powerful combination of vulnerability and quiet strength, but it is also to feel trapped inside an optical illusion, fighting the message from your brain that your eyes are playing tricks on you. – Live Fast

Visit Live Fast Magazine to read  I Only Have Eyes for You: The Mesmerizing Double Vision of Alex Garant and come to the opening of Alex Garant’s “Voyage of the Insomniac” showing her latest body of work August 4th at Thinkspace in Culver City.