Interview with LONAC for “Strange Tales” – Opening Friday May 4th

Thinkspace is proud to present, ‘Strange Tales‘ the first solo exhibition of
new works by Croatian artist and street muralist Lonac in our main room. Lonac combines photorealistic rendering with illustrative and two-dimensional stylistic elements, as a self-taught artist he has refined through extensive fieldwork over the years. For ‘Strange Tales’, Lonac will present new drawings, paintings, and sculptures, all inspired by his penchant for surreal storytelling. In anticipation of Lonac’s upcoming exhibition with us, we have an exclusive interview with Lonac to discuss his latest body of work, creative process, and catalyst for his artistic pursuits.

Join us for the opening of “Strange Tales”, this Friday, May 4th from 6 to 9 pm. 

SH: Tell us about this show. What is the inspiration? What were you exploring in the work?

LONAC: This upcoming show was a great opportunity for me to close myself in my studio and to finally use my outside experience for series of paintings, wall sculptures and some drawings. On the streets, in the past 8 years, I combined illustration style with realism, did some wall animations, played with old skateboard decks and made bigger and smaller installations with it, and a number of big murals with realistic characters. I always like to jump from one theme to something totally different and that’s what I wanted to do for the show as well.

SH: What 3 websites do you check every day or people you follow on social media?

LONAC: I used to check Batman news site a lot, but since the last few movies were not that good, I kind of stopped visiting the news. But yeah, I really really like movies so I think every day I listen John Campea YouTuber who talks about movies. He lives in LA I think. On Instagram, i follow mostly artists that I admire and respect, the same as festivals and magazines, Juxtapoz, Hifructose.

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

LONAC: The best thing is when I come to learn something new. I always try to do something a bit different than the last time, something that might be a challenge and a new lesson.

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

LONAC: My nitpicking. It’s something that’s just part of my nature, but sometimes it makes me crazy. Everything must be in its place. I’m also always aware that it could be better so that’s why I’m never 100% satisfied, and that makes me work even more until someone slaps me 🙂

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

LONAC: Nah, after this show I’ll have a few days of a break but there are a few festivals I’m going to paint and even between them I think I’ll be painting in my studio. I can’t rest for too long, always have to do something that has to do with creativity.

SH: How do you plan out your compositions?

LONAC: On the walls, the format of the building, and the elements that are sometimes on the wall are what kind off help me with the composition. Surroundings as well sometimes. In studio work, I think it depends on the idea and do I know already how I want the whole image look like or do I want to start with the main part and build the rest out of that. With some of the paintings for the show, I just started building the composition by adding elements that compliment the main subject of the motif.

SH: How often are you in the studio, do you work on the pieces daily or do you have creative spurts with concentrated efforts or work and then long periods of not working?

LONAC: I can stay inside for very long time with small brakes. Once I start working then It’s kind of just that until I’m done.

SH: What do you eat when working on the show? Are you a 3 square meals kind of person, or have snacks on hand?

LONAC: Uh, I started eating more, usually I mostly “eat” coffee. I can have 2 meals and that’s enough, with some fruit here and there but I dont eat that much. Sometimes in the morning, it’s just coffee, then lunch and then more coffee, and then something with caffeine.

SH: If you were to collaborate with a band or musical artists to create a music video inspired by your artwork, who would you work with?

LONAC: I had a pleasure to do that with a Croatian didgeridoo player Dubravko Lapaine. He’s one of the top players, and me being a didgeridoo player and his friend, that was a great experience. But for someone outside Croatia hmmm. Some time ago I would say Tool or something like that, or Soundgarden but Cornell is gone so….Maybe Jose Gonzales or some Brass Band like Young Blood or Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. Love trumpets 🙂

SH: Has there been an artistic catalyst in your life? Something, someone, some event that made a significant impact on you that has lead you to where you are now.

LONAC: I think ten years ago MaClaim Crew kind of saved me from quitting art. That was really the starting point where I decided to learn to paint by myself and do walls alone- 10/15 years ago there were mostly only graffiti in Zagreb, and anything else wasn’t that appreciated right away. It took time 🙂

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?

LONAC: There’s too much spray cans, MTN 94 and Gold Montana. In smaller boxes I have all sorts of oils that’s I buy across my street where is a very good friendly art shop. Isabey, Rosemarry , Liquin, Louvre, Van Gough, Rubens, Etude, ….all sorts of brands of brushes, mediums, and paints I piled in last 10 years.

SH: You have a time machine, and you could do anything / go anywhere for 24 hours, and would not interfere with the space-time continuum. What would you do?

LONAC: Wouldn’t mind going on a live performance of Django Reinhardt

LONAC’s “Strange Tales” Coming In May

LONAC
Strange Tales
May 4, 2018 – May 25, 2018

Thinkspace is pleased to present Strange Tales, the gallery’s first solo exhibition of new works by Croatian artist and street muralist Lonac. Currently based in his hometown of Zagreb, Croatia, Lonac has produced impressive large-scale, site-specific murals across Europe and worldwide, combining photorealistic rendering with illustrative and two-dimensional stylistic elements. His public murals are painstakingly detailed and primarily executed with spray paint and minimal brushwork, a technique he has self-taught and refined through extensive fieldwork over the years. In his solo debut with Thinkspace, Lonac will present new drawings, paintings, and sculptures, all inspired by his penchant for surreal storytelling.

Lonac’s earliest forays into mural making and street art predate his time spent in art school at the University of Zagreb’s Academy of Fine Arts. His first attempts were undertaken as a child on a wall in his backyard, followed by an experimental effort on the grounds of his primary school. This is one of those great apocryphal artist stories in which the art teacher, recognizing the ‘vandal’s’ talent, had the school council subsidize the cost of the young renegade’s art supplies. Since those first precocious initiations into the world of public art, Lonac has gone on to produce some of the most compelling murals in Bosnia, Croatia, China, Great Britain, Italy, the United States, Switzerland, and elsewhere.

The artist’s Croatian pseudonym translates loosely to ‘cooking pot,’ a nickname he hated as a child but went on to embrace while in search of a moniker as a young graffiti artist. After having spent his teen years as a graffiti writer, he began exploring figurative subjects and styles, expanding the scope of his aesthetic and the reach of his content. Working from a combination of influences, including a love of comics, graffiti, music, film, and an immersion in skateboard culture, Lonac developed a signature style that incorporates highly sophisticated representation with free association and surreal juxtapositions. His works often contain portraits of people he knows, including himself, his father, and friends, bestowing a level of intimacy and diaristic intimation to the imagery instead of a generalized anonymity.

Emotionally driven, Lonac’s works are often about personal disclosures and social commentary brought to life through the playful combination of the hyperreal and surreal. A recurring figure in his compositions, the bird, is often present as a symbol of war and peace, while other symbolic introjections appear with varied references to wildlife and natural imagery like fish, wolves, and owls, for instance. Used to embody or typify human behaviors, conflicts, or détentes, these poetic analogies contribute to the imaginative impact of the works while keeping them firmly in the realm of fantasy.

This allegorical penchant for extended metaphor is never far from Lonac’s imagery, nor is the tender observation of human foibles or their momentary redemptions. Some of his other subjects have included children in a tender moment of prototypical flirtation, the imminence of a couple’s approaching kiss, and a woman bathed in light while indulging in her morning ‘vices.’ Other murals have included a giant architecturally sized squirrel scaling the side of a building, an emancipated beatle newly released from a jar, the artist’s father at work on the construction of a ship model, and a woman’s reaction mid-result of a ‘he loves me, he loves me not’ petal-plucking ritual. Another still, depicts a pumping anatomical heart in which the building’s ducts become arterial extrusions structurally incorporated into the piece; an animation of this phenomenal mural went viral at the beginning of 2016.

Lonac encourages images and references to interact freely in his works in unexpected ways. This world in which logical boundaries are temporarily suspended delivers with playful pathos to reveal a rich spectrum of human vulnerability.

BRIAN MASHBURN’S “ORIGIN STORIES” COMING APRIL 2018

Brian Mashburn
“Origin Stories”
April 7, 2018 – April 28, 2018

Thinkspace (Los Angeles) – is pleased to present new works by North Carolina-based painter Brian Mashburn in his main gallery debut, Origin Stories. The artist’s meticulously detailed works depict quasi-post-apocalyptic scenes in which the natural and human worlds coexist uncomfortably, the remnants of human industrial development haunting the perimeter of the landscapes it has exploited to stage its expansion. Human beings are conspicuously absent from these works but loom invisibly in architectural vestiges, abandoned monuments, and other harbingers of imperfect progress. In this new body of work, Mashburn’s imagery continues to explore his interest in the natural sciences, canonical philosophy, and history, incorporating subtle references to studied and observed themes. Looking to both the cultural and personal narratives that shape our sense of belonging and ancestry, Mashburn offers a nuanced rumination on the poetic power, and fallibility, of antecedents.

Mashburn’s landscapes conjure elements of a 19th-Century Gothic romanticism, offset by contemporary hyperrealistic rendering and surreal contextual juxtapositions. The worlds he posits are densely clouded, overburdened with skeletal trees, and heavy with fog, while anchored by baneful mountain edges and dramatic craggy peaks. These stylistic mainstays of Mashburn’s landscapes are exaggerated and unspecific; like malefic augurs, they cling to something vaguely familiar but petition enough strangeness to elicit phobic dread. Barren and full, the works prophesize a state of exhausted depletion, where nature’s resilience and the effects of unchecked human hubris stand still in an uneasy moment of detente.

The fog-laden vistas for which Mashburn is known are inspired by both the Appalachian Smokey Mountains of Asheville North Carolina, where the artist resides, and his extensive travels throughout the densely overpopulated and polluted areas of Southeastern China where the atmospheric cast is thick with smog. Inspired by his American-Asian heritage, Mashburn incorporates loose stylistic references to historical Chinese ink wash painting, crediting his meticulous work ethic to early scholastic experiences in Chinese character classes. An aggregate of nebulous influences, his works are drawn from this personal heritage, daily observations, an interest in critical theory, and the recent ubiquity of ominous politics and doomsday news. His dystopian landscapes border on the allegorical and suggest a post-cultural world in which eroded edges have failed to contain the entropic threat of chaos.

Technically impressive, Mashburn’s works are composed and minutely detailed. Obsessed with the optics of close proximity, the works hold tight even when examined with little to no distance, unlike more gestural styles that tend to loosen when viewed up close. Working on several pieces in tandem at any given time, the artist achieves the density and surface quality through the application of multiple layers of oil, each sediment dried before the accretion of the next.
Expertly controlled, the works are held together by this burden of detail, an ironic counterpoint to the thematic deterioration they capture.

In an era of rampant and environmentally untenable growth – one that attests to a profusion of consumption and use that now seems in overt defiance of any over worn and anachronistic ideal of ‘progress’ – Mashburn’s Origin Stories looks to the source of beginnings from the vantage point of ends.

Interview with Amy Sol for “Bird of Flux”

Thinkspace Projects is pleased to present Amy Sol’s solo exhibition, Bird of Flux. The exhibition features new delicately rendered paintings and the artist’s venture into sculpture, which both captures the suspended breath of introspective meditation. In anticipation of the exhibition opening, Saturday, March 3rd, our interview with Amy Sol discusses her new medium, ways of tackling self-doubt, and an inspired cocktail.

SH: In your last exhibition with us, “Garden Gamine” you had experimented with oil paints in order to continue to challenge and push yourself artistically, in this exhibition you’re introducing sculptural work for the first time – what was your journey into sculpture? How long have you known this is a direction you wanted to explore, and what was the learning curve like?
AS: I began casually playing with clay a couple years ago and immediately fell in love it! There is something magical about working in physical space, and co-inhabiting with the thing you are creating. I’m also a very hands on person, I like to craft and tinker and trouble shoot, so this was the perfect project for me. Oil-based clays are my favorite clays to work with right now. I can quickly shape ideas into blocks and later on it is forgiving enough to let me manipulate it without totally erasing the essence of the original sketch. Since oil clays are not permanent, I had to learn how to make molds and cast them. I choose resin as the first material for casting simply because I didn’t have access to a kiln. I then discovered that it is limitlessly versatile and super interesting to work with. It has been a crazy steep learning curve… but I decided to attempt this medium and accept the crunching of hundred of hours and inevitable mistakes as part of the process.

SH: What was one of the most challenging pieces in this show, and why?
AS: The most challenging piece I made for this show was “Ine” the life sized-ish bust. It was the first thing I’ve ever made in this scale. Before this, I’d only made relatively small toy-sized things. I had to overcome some obstacles in relation to physics which I didn’t anticipate due to the scale and the weight of the material itself. I began working on the piece in August last year and after three months of trying and failing, I had to revise my method altogether. I learned so much of what I know now from making this, and difficult as it was at times, it was the most fun and rewarding as well.

SH: What is your favorite aspect about what you do / being an artist and least favorite aspect?
AS: Favorite aspect of being artist is that I get to express myself in the way that comes most naturally to me and which I find the most exciting – through visual mediums. Least favorite is that requires a massive amount of self-discipline and physical demands – extreme single minded focus, being still all day, and repetitive motions.

SH: Do you ever find yourself in a creative dry-spell or burdened by self-doubt? What do you do to pull yourself out of it?
AS: Yes, I do occasionally get hit with the artist block or self-doubt.. It is still something I am trying to figure out but have gotten much better with over time. When I feel a dry spell come about I sometimes find that a simple change of scenery and stepping away can help reset my mind and allow inspiration to come from the external world. Also, talking with others artists and learning from those with have great work ethic helps keep things in perspective.

SH: If “Birds of Flux” inspired a cocktail, what would be the recipe and how would it taste?

AS: wow, haha! love this question!
okay here is my recipe :

gin / or any clear liquor
10 butterfly pea flowers brewed to make 30 ml of tea / cool
Lemon Verbana and sugar
citrus juice
splash of elderberry liquor

muddle the lemon verbana ( bird feathers ) & sugar
shake the gin with ice and pour gin
add butterfly pea tea – butterfly flower from Southeast Asia which produces the bluest edible blue found in nature.
let your mind wander into the blue abyss …
add elderberry and citrus juice last and watch the blue fade into a rich purple!


Opening reception of “Bird of Flux,” Saturday, March 3rd from 6 – 9pm

Thinkspace Projects
6009 Washington Blvd.
Culvery City, CA

COMING TO THINKSPACE PROJECTS – AMY SOL’S “BIRD OF FLUX”

AMY SOL
BIRD OF FLUX
March 3, 2018 – March 24, 2018

Thinkspace is pleased to present new works by Korean-born painter Amy Sol in Bird of Flux. A self-taught artist currently based in Northern California, her delicately rendered paintings offer introspective meditations on the fluidity of fairytale and fiction, tapping into the endless permutations of subconscious reverie. Sol’s intuitive imagery is drawn from instinctual reserves, referencing several visual traditions of storytelling by enigmatically combining both the personal and archetypal. In her new body of work, Sol explores themes of transition, adventure, and adaptation, considering the individual faced by external and internal forces of change. In Bird of Flux physical metamorphosis is posited as a visual metaphor for inner transformation, offering the viewer borrowed ingress into an imaginative universe of muted hues, unlikely companions, softened edges, and shadowy phantasms.

Sol’s graphics and illustrative inspirations are drawn from enduring collective influences. Everything from animation to decorative design makes an appearance in her esoterically stylized worlds. Influenced by Japanese manga and the whimsy of Ghibli films, as well as the idyllic natural worlds of classic-era Disney and the Golden Age of turn-of-the-century American Illustration, Sol Incorporates references to varied cultural and folkloric embodiments of the feminine. Her works often feature a female protagonist in collusion with supporting animal or creature characters, a tradition of friendship long spun in popular culture from animé to Bambi.

Presented in a state of calm albeit apprehended action, the narratives she advances remain partial and unresolved moments, mere glimpses in a shifting arc rather than a finite plot. These imagined propositions are lawless rather than earth-bound imperatives. With a creative unhinging, Sol’s limitless imagination slips fluidly beyond the restrictions of the real into a world of surreal gentility.
Technically self-taught, Sol has spent many years perfecting her own mixed pigments and materials. Known for a distinctive palette with a subtle ghostly cast, she has in recent years experimented with more intense contrasts and darker hues. Her use of color often recalls late 19th and early 20th-century illustration, art nouveau design, and even the Celadon vases she remembers from her childhood. The diffuse effect of her pigments, however, tends to feel
generally nostalgic rather than specifically referential, as though drawn from a distant and strangely non-existent past. Her technique is labor intensive, involving the application of several layers of acrylic washes to achieve the translucence and opacity of her surfaces. She is also using oils and exploring sculpture in this new body of work. Preferring wood panel to canvas for its unique material qualities, Sol often allows the organic nature of the substrate to dictate the direction of her compositions.

Bird of Flux will include new paintings and sculptural works by the artist. In the spirit of transformation on both conspicuous and imperceptible planes, her new output fittingly reflects her own openness to experimentation and unexpected shifts. Sol’s poetically measured images retain traces of melancholic pause in spite of their idyllic beauty and calm, feeling at times like the magic of fairytale tempered by the ambivalence of the adult. Personal and simultaneously universal, the powerful quiet of her works force a reflective distance into an otherwise unmanageably chaotic visual world.