Brian Mashburn’s “Axiom” opening April 29th

Brian Mashburn
Axiom
April 29 – May 20, 2017

Concurrently on view in Thinkspace’s project room are new works by Brian Mashburn in Axiom. Based in Asheville North Carolina, Mashburn creates phenomenally detailed oil paintings of foggy landscapes, in which remnants of the natural world exist uneasily alongside evidence of its all but complete industrialization.

Dark and brooding, the stylized moodiness of Mashburn’s work is inspired by the foggy mountains of Appalachia and the heavy, opaque smogs that descend upon Hong Kong and parts of Southeastern China. Like a tangible veil, the gray film is itself a dark harbinger of the destructive forces of industry. Mashburn’s landscapes are indistinct and seemingly sooty vistas, where spires of human architectures and crags of rocky mountains carve out its backgrounds. Darkly and otherworldly, they share similarities with the tradition of 19th-century gothic landscape and its championing of all things eerie, though they feel distinctly contemporary and surreal in their free mixing of historical and cultural references, architectures, and animals.

Mashburn depicts hyper-realistically rendered wildlife in his foregrounds, often posited in stark contrast to the vaporous looseness of the distances. Whether an owl, buffalo, dog, or elephant, the individual isolation of the creature, its contextual disjointedness, and abrupt displacement, when found in the midst of this caliginous world, is jarring and ominous, particularly when set against the traces of human development which are all too apparent in the beyond. These paintings read as narrative fragments, suggesting a larger story beyond the frame – alluded to but never fully disclosed. Vaguely post-apocalyptic, and beautifully thick with foreboding, they show both the vulnerability and resilience of the natural world in spite of human intervention and “progress.”

Seth Armstrong’s “Pretty Deep Shit” opening April 29th

Seth Armstrong
Pretty Deep Shit
April 29 – May 20, 2017

Thinkspace is pleased to present Pretty Deep Shit, featuring new paintings by artist Seth Armstrong. In this new body of work, the Los Angeles-based painter, born and raised, explores LA as a dystopian landscape, inspired by its off-kilter charm and its reputation for being a cultural kaleidoscope of beauty and barrenness, depth and vacancy. Known for paintings that self-consciously capture the act of looking – whether as a voyeur in trespass, a spectator in an audience, or a participant in the landscape – Armstrong captures the simultaneity of the city as a place of endless, contingent narratives, jarring interruptions, and suspenseful pauses.

Pretty Deep Shit is a tongue in cheek nod to the weight of simple things. In a time where our global and national political climate is uncertain and precarious, and the general cultural atmosphere divisive and fraught, Armstrong observes the localized, the personal, and the momentary. He looks to the poignancy of small observations, quiet corners, and unassuming moments – the intimacy of a world that continues to unfold in private spaces in spite of larger or more daunting world events. His past works have often captured a stylized take on Americana brought to life with a cinematic edge, in this new body of work similar impulses remain though they feel scaled back, more meditative and tempered, closer to observation and memory than to the staging of cinema.

The exhibition is about Armstrong’s lived observations of LA, presenting a more cohesive and intimate arrest of the city that tends to polarize or exert a gravitational pull. There’s a code of exemption in LA, a kind of freedom and fluidity from the mores of other cities that Armstrong captures through its stylization. Everything from Craftsman bungalows, parched Echo Park landscapes in the midst of drought and shiny seas of stalled cars, to motley downtown architectures, high rise windows lit by night, and voyeuristic glimpses of women in domestic spaces, reflect the ongoing, and inexhaustible, stories of the urban sprawl. Always in search of the oddly beautiful in unlikely places, Armstrong captures the grittiness and allure of a city that inspires the deepest of love/hate relationships.

Armstrong’s works offer cleverly crafted moments of suspended or anticipated action. Often the absence of human subjects alludes to their unseen presence in absentia – the traces of their proximity and activities linger in subtle seeking, much in the way the city itself is always alive with invisible stories. Though we may not have access to the narrative, its threads are implied as we move through the depicted spaces, objects, and structures. This open-ended interrelatedness is revisited throughout Armstrong’s works. A shared current connects each piece, intended in this case to be read sequentially as moments in a larger narrative arc, though each stands alone. Some offer vast views, and others contracted intimacy, moving freely in and out of public and private spaces, but they convene when seen together as a whole, and marry voyeur and subject in a single ambiguous vantage point.

Technically, the paintings are highly detailed and tend to move between looser and more painterly executions to tighter hyperrealistic ones. Each oil painting is executed slightly differently by the artist, rather than formulaically, resulting in varied physical textures and surface qualities in each. Armstrong is finessing the paintings in this current body of work, glazing details and working into the minutiae now more than ever; they feel even richer and more vibrant as a result. Though Armstrong has a preference for bright and highly saturated palettes, the tone of the work is anything but. A discomfort and strangeness loom throughout in even the brightest and most colorful scenes. His use of stark contrasts and exaggerated light contribute to a feeling of hypersensitization – a world of strange edges, soft swells, and unfamiliar intensities. Something slightly off-kilter haunts, pushing even the most seemingly familiar scenes into the realm of the subtly surreal.

New Mural from James Bullough ‘Pania of the Reef’

Thinkspace Family artist, James Bullough just completed a beautiful mural ‘Pania of the Reef’ in Napier, New Zealand as a part of the Pangeaseed Foundation’s Sea Walls project. The mural was inspired by local Maori folklore depicting Pania a fierce protector of the waters off the coast of Napier.  Read about James’s experience painting the mural in his own words below,

“I had the great honor of meeting with some of Pania’s direct descendants in the city of Napier and other local Maori historians and speak with them about the best way to depict Pania and tell her story through my mural.  In working with Pangeaseed Foundation and the Sea Walls project on this mural, it was also my honor to highlight a pressing ocean conservation issue for which I chose to speak about, the acidification of our oceans.  Due to man-made climate concerns, specifically, the rising CO2 levels in our atmosphere, the acidity levels of our oceans have risen and continue to rise at alarming rates killing our reefs and the delicate ecosystems around them worldwide.  To illustrate this I have depicted Pania floating defiant and hopeful over her reef despite the fact that it is void of all life and she herself is dissolving from the dangerously high acid levels.”

We’re always amazed by the gorgeous work Bullough creates and can’t wait to have him as a featured artist in our upcoming return to Detroit for Inner State ‘LAX/DTW: Part II’ opening June 30th.

View more works from James Bullough here.

Photo credit: Tre @pangeaseed

The Opening Reception of Jacub Gagnon’s “Short Stories” and Kari-Lise Alexander “WAKE”

The opening reception of Jacub Gagnon’s ‘Short Stories’ and Kari-Lise Alexander’s ‘WAKE’ lined the walls of Thinkspace Gallery’s main room with colorful depictions of the ethereal women by Kari and playful creatures with juxtaposed objects in surreal scenes of wonder by Gagnon. On view in the project room, we brought out pieces from Telmo Meil’s Lost and Not Found Fullerton Museum Center exhibition. The shows are on view now through April 22.

View available work from Jacub Gagnon and Kari-Lise Alexander on the Thinkspace website.

FLOURISH Group Exhibition at Mesa Contemporary Art Museum, Arizona

FLOURISH group show
Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum, Arizona

May 12 – August 12, 2017
Opening Reception with the Artists:
Friday, May 12, 2017
6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Opening at Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum on May 12, 2017, is Flourish, a group exhibition featuring works by artists belonging to the New Contemporary Art Movement. Curated by Los Angeles’ Thinkspace Gallery, one of the Movement’s most active proponents, the exhibition showcases new and relevant talent by some of its most compelling artists. Working in a variety of stylistic veins, New Contemporary Art includes everything from Pop Surrealism, Muralism, Installation and Street Art, to Graffiti, Hyperrealism, Illustration, and Portraiture. Though seemingly disparate, these genres are all linked by a vibrant community, multiple stylistic allegiances, and a return to the expressive possibilities of figurative and representational content, driven by a more populist sensibility. The Movement is loosely defined by its shared interest in the social rather than the abstract or conceptual.

Largely self-supported and community-driven since the 90s, the New Contemporary Art Movement has been steadily gaining in international recognition over the past decade and is now widely recognized as both the largest and longest running art movement in history. Inclusive and diverse, several styles, media, and exhibition platforms fall within the Movement’s now widely cast net. The potential of representation inspires these artists to draw from popular and counter-cultural sources like music, illustration, comics, design, tattoo culture, skate culture and the like, looking to the outside world rather than to the more self-referential gestures that typify that of fine art.

Flourish features a project room installation by Felipe Pantone, and site-specific murals by Esao Andrews and Nosego. The group exhibition includes works by 1010, Aaron Nagel, Alex Garant, Alexis, Diaz, Allison Sommers, Amy Sol, Bec Winnel, Benjamin Garcia, Cinta Vidal, Craig ‘Skibs’ Barker, Curiot, Daniel Bilodeau, David Cooley, David Rice, Derek Gores, Dulk, Erik Siador, Ernest Zacharevic, Fernando Chamarelli, Frank Gonzales, Ian Francis, Icy and Sot, James Bullough, Joel Daniel Phillips, Jolene Lai, Juan Travieso, Kelly Vivanco, Kevin Peterson, Lauren Brevner, Linnea Strid, Liz Brizzi, Marco Mazzoni, Martin Whatson, Mary Iverson, Meggs, Michael Reeder, Molly Gruninger, Rodrigo Luff, Sarah Joncas, Sepe, Sergio Garcia, Stephanie Buer, Telmo Miel, Tran Nguyen, Wiley Wallace, and Yosuke Ueno.

A continuation of Thinkspace’s recent guest forays into institutional spaces, Flourish brings New Contemporary Art to a museological context. By mobilizing alternative platforms like social media for the dissemination of work, the gallery, and its artists, have an exponential public following in the context of group shows, especially when placed within an institutional space. This mutually beneficial exposure helps to increase the visibility of a Movement that has thrived and grown largely outside of institutional aegises.

According to Andrew Hosner, Curator and Co-owner of Thinkspace Gallery, “That is our plan with these collaborative shows, to continue to knock on the door of the establishment until more listen, more take notice, more start to add these artists to their permanent collections and start to give this movement the attention it has earned and deserves.”

Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum
One East Main Street
Mesa, Arizona 85201
www.mesaartscenter.com
480.644.6560

About the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum
Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum is the exciting visual art exhibition space at Mesa Arts Center. In five stunning galleries, MCA Museum showcases curated and juried exhibitions of contemporary art by emerging and internationally recognized artists. MCA Museum also offers lectures by significant artists and arts professionals, art workshops and a volunteer Docent program.

About Thinkspace Gallery
Founded in 2005, Thinkspace Gallery was established with a commitment to the promotion and dissemination of young and emerging art. The Culver City gallery is a catalyst for the emerging art scene in Los Angeles and beyond and is dedicated to the exposure of its artists and the support of their tenets. This young movement straddled between street art, graphic art, design and popular culture, is subject to steadily increasing international exposure and interest, and is in need of institutional advocates. Thinkspace is positioned to create opportunities and act as a visible platform for the New Contemporary movement, and its aim as a gallery is to establish both a curatorial forum and a collector base for its output. As an institution, Thinkspace is committed to the vision, risk and the exceptional talents that wield it. From the streets to the gallery, from the “margins” to the white cube, Thinkspace is re-envisioning what it means to be “institutional.” As a haven for talent, and a venue founded with passion, conviction, and community, the gallery’s mandate is rooted in belief and support.
http://thinkspacegallery.com

Interview with Kari-Lise Alexander for ‘WAKE’

Thinkspace is proud to present Kari-Lise Alexander’s latest body of work ‘WAKEin our project room. Seattle-based artist Kari-Lise Alexander draws inspiration from her Scandinavian heritage painting ethereal portraits that capture transformation and vulnerability.  In anticipation of Alexander’s upcoming exhibition with us, we have an exclusive interview with Kari-Lise Alexander to discuss her creative process, progression in her style, and what a cocktail inspired by her work would be made of.

WAKE’s opening reception is from 6 – 9 pm this coming Saturday, April Ist in our main room

SH: What themes or ideas were you exploring in this latest body of work?
KLR: I wanted to explore a few different themes through the use of water and the abundance of flora in this series. First, water is never the same it’s always changing, shifting and taking different shapes. I wanted to use water to explore the changing perceptions we have of individuals and also use it at the same time to create a dreamy, mercurial, and surreal feeling to the pieces. Second, the prolific and very lush flora creates a similar feeling of dreaminess and richness throughout the work. Both the water and the flora distort and block the viewer from seeing the subject clearly, leaving us wondering what we might be missing.

SH: In this latest body of work you’ve really played with the movement of water, surrealist elements, and an inner illumination of color – what inspired this new direction/ evolution of style?
KLR: It felt like it was a natural evolution in my work to expand my use of water in my painting. In this series there’s flowing water, still water, water when it’s raining and surreal cloudy water. It created an overall feeling that is moody, dream-like, and introspective all at the same time. The other elements in the series reflect that as well such as the highly saturated color palette and the plethora of flowers that dominates the pieces.

SH: Walk us through a day in the studio?
KLR: I typically get up get my coffee, snuggle with an animal or two (I have two dogs and two rabbits, not to mention several insects) and then head down to my studio and get to work. Depending on my schedule I usually paint 6-9 hours each day during the week. I do spend a lot of time brainstorming, sketching out ideas, planning upcoming photo shoots and working with models as well.

SH: What excites you about another artist’s work?
KLR: My favorite thing about another artist’s work is if it surprises me. These pieces usually involve a smart narrative in the work, great color usage, and composition. All of those things might sound obvious for a painting or work of art, but as any artist will tell you are very challenging to get right. When a piece “surprises” me like that it’s really a delightful thing.

SH: How does is it feel to be an active artist a part of the new contemporary art movement? How do you think it will be documented in art history? Give us your one liner.
KLR: I’ve never thought about myself as an active artist within the new contemporary art movement. But, I suppose that is very true. All I really think about is what I want my voice to be in the art world and what I want to say with that voice.

I’m not really sure how new contemporary art will be documented in art history. The world moves so quickly now, and artists are trying to keep up with trends and get “likes” that I’m not sure if the movement will be here for a moment or if it will be here for some time and be notable to history.

I’m all about hard work so I would have to say my one liner would be “It’s hard work, not talent.”

SH: What are the most challenging aspects of being an artist? What are the most rewarding?
KRL: This is a hard question to answer, but a good one. I think the most challenging thing is not to let yourself get in the way of creating the art you want to. I think we tend to be our own biggest obstacle when it comes to doing anything creative. We make up reasons why we shouldn’t, we tell ourselves we aren’t good enough, and we are constantly the worst critics of what we do. We look at other artists success and judge our own work by it. All of these things get in the way of actually creating art without fear and creating the art we want to.

I learned a few years ago that if I spend time tearing myself down about my work, I’m actually wasting time instead of working on the thing/s I don’t like in my own work. It’s ok to be critical of your own work in a healthy way. However, it is not ok to be mean to yourself about it. One is productive, and the other is destructive.

The most rewarding thing about being an artist is creating a piece that you’re truly proud of or in this case a series of paintings. “WAKE” is a series I’m really proud of, and it feels like the compilation of years of what I’ve been painting and trying to figure out in my own work.

SH: If you work was translated into a cocktail what would it taste like? What would it be made of?
KRL: Well I think with this series I’d have to say it would be something fantastical with lots of different floral notes. I think it would also have to be a really colorful drink. Definitely served on the rocks with a few flower petals as a garnish. My only fear is that with all the water that is featured in this body of work the cocktail would end up being watered down!

SH: What were you listening to while creating this latest body of work, music, podcasts, Netflix?
KRL: I listen to audiobooks when I paint. I found it works best for me since I don’t have to keep looking up at a screen. Audiobooks tend to go on for hours without having to play the next episode, or stopping everything to find something new to watch or listen too. I listen to a lot of fantasy books on audio. The King Killer Chronicles, The Night Circus, and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, have been some of my favorites I’ve listened to in the last year.

SH: Do you experience creative blocks? If so how do you push through it and find new inspiration?
KRL: Of course I experience creative blocks! I don’t know any artist who doesn’t from time to time. Mine usually pop up when I’ve been working really hard and haven’t given myself a break. I usually have to force myself to stop working and step back from my art. Otherwise, I’m forcing it, and I get frustrated when it’s not working out. What usually helps me is getting out into nature or going a museum. Something to get me out of my head and look at the wider world.

SH: What artist (it can be in painting or a different art form) would be a dream collaboration?
KRL: Well I would want to go back in time and collaborate with my favorite artist from the Pre-Raphaelite movement, Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale. I love everything about her work from her use of color, to subject matter and composition. I think it would be amazing to collaborate with an artist that is at the top of their game and has a breadth of understanding about their craft that she did.

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”.