The Gilded Age Exhibition featuring Aaron Horkey, Esao Andrews, and Joao Ruas

The Gilded Age Postcard Ad

The Gilded Age – Aaron Horkey, Esao Andrews, Joao Ruas
September 12 – October 3, 2015

Thinkspace Gallery  is pleased to announce its highly anticipated three-man exhibition, The Gilded Age, featuring new works by Aaron Horkey, Esao Andrews and Joao Ruas. A rarely exhibited graphic designer, illustrator and artist, Horkey creates intricately detailed hand-drawn silkscreens, highly coveted by collectors the world over. Immediately recognizable, his aesthetic has permeated print culture at large, and is one of the most distinctive in contemporary concert posters and album art. When approached by the gallery’s Director and asked to describe his ideal group exhibition, Horkey immediately suggested Esao Andrews and Joao Ruas as choice gallery companions. All three artists share an inexhaustible penchant for detail, a preference for all things ornate, and an antediluvian sensibility that tends towards allegory and myth. Enter The Gilded Age: the fortuitous result of a seemingly unlikely pet-project, and a rare and unprecedented opportunity for collectors, fans and enthusiasts to see these three illustrative giants wring life from inanimate sands.

Aaron Horkey lives and works in his rural hometown of Windom, Minnesota. He is renown for the iconic animalia and exquisite hand-drawn typography he has created for heavy-weight bands like Isis, Converge, Boris, The Melvins and Neurosis, among many others. Horkey stands alone as an uncompromising talent, famously only producing his highly sought after commercial work in the absence of art direction. A tireless obsessive, his aesthetic conveys horror vacui, or the paradigmatic dread of emptiness shared by both the dense sculptural reliefs of the ancients and the ornamentation of late 19th century graphic design. Linear detail is worked and accumulated to a staggering degree in “a Horkey”, and the surfaces are often densely impenetrable with layers of decorative, organic motifs and animals of surreal mythological proportions.

A visual storyteller, Horkey creates a post-apocalyptic, quasi-naturalism, Gothically stylized and yet reminiscent of the late 19th century’s penchant for beautiful design. His pieces, though clearly contemporary, reflect the primacy of craftsmanship and the love of ornament championed at the turn of the century. A time of economic growth, industry and expansion in America, the Gilded Age is characterized by an aesthetic return to the organic, ornate and man-made, but the era also betrayed a melancholic awareness of industry’s destructive supremacy, and feared a future dominion of the machine. This darker sensibility is consistently apparent throughout Horkey’s work; an artist always returning to the humbling power of the land as a theme, and to its momentums of survival and decay. Helmeted birds, airborne manta rays, prehistoric insects and winged buffalo, are but a few of Horkey’s recurring cast of characters. Evading a specific sense of time, history and place, the natural mythology Horkey has painstakingly crafted is markedly, and perhaps most tellingly, absent of humans.

Esao Andrews is an illustrator and painter based out of Los Angeles. His oil paintings on panel blend figurative and organic elements into beautifully haunting and distorted dreamscapes. Often surreal, eroticized, and exaggerated to the point of the grotesque, his works have been compared to Mark Ryden’s predilection for thorough stylization, and John Currin’s contemporary figurative Mannerism. An illustrator who has produced work for DC comics, and album art for bands like Circa Survive, Andrews creates emotive narratives and allegories through the intuitive juxtaposition of imagery. Often combining human and natural worlds in a mashup of symbolic gestures, Andrews’ highly detailed works resonate with the ghosts of our sub-conscious. Like worlds unto themselves, at times bordering on nightmare, his paintings provide glimpses into alternate and parallel psychic universes, capturing moments of meditative solitude, quiet realization and melancholy.

Brazilian artist Joao Ruas is similarly preoccupied with detailed stylization, narrative symbolism and the darkly emotive surreal. A consummate illustrator and designer from São Paulo, Brazil, and creator of Fables covers, Ruas combines ancient references with the contemporary, to create timeless visual mythologies. A gifted figurative artist, his works explore the universal themes of transition, power, strength, transformation and loss with an empathetic tenor. His haunting works are inspired by the age-old function of myth as an antiquated system of attributing meaning to natural and human chaos. Ruas’ beautifully executed lines, love of detail, and quasi-Gothic aesthetic, also recall the late 19th century golden age of illustration, and its propensity for lush hand-drawn worlds. Fascinated by the enigmatic mystery of lore and symbols, and drawn to the use of recurring contrasts, Ruas punctuates his work with a system of evasive signs. His pieces always tend to reveal the spectral traces of graphite in the end product, a choice that discloses both the presence of the artist and the ghostliness of his universe.

The Gilded Age presents three exceptional artists – two of whom are hand-picked by the inimitable Horkey – whose respective work, though entirely unique and contemporary, recalls many of the sensibilities shared by the late 19th and early 20th century return to craftsmanship, narrative and ornamentation. Particularly relevant given our entrenchment in an age of digital reign and impermanent culture, The Gilded Age betrays a nostalgic yearning for the maximalism of the human hand.

Aaron Horkey GA

Aaron Horkey Work In Progress Detail Shot

Esao Andrews GA WIP

Esao Andrews Work In Progress Detail Shot

Joaoa Ruas WIP Gilded Age

Joao Ruas Work In Progress Detail Shot

Preview of ‘ The Gilded Age’ in Juxtapoz’s September Issue

September Juxtapoz

Thinkspace’s September exhibition ‘The Gilded Age‘ featuring new work from artists Aaron Horkey, Esao Andrews, and Joao Ruas received a ten page spread in the latest Juxtapoz. Now available on newsstands and online, make sure to pick up a issue of the September Juxtapoz to see an incredible preview of the work that will be at Thinkspace this fall.  A great piece in which all three artists were interviewed.

Gilded Age Juxtapoz


An interview with Esao Andrews

Esao Andrews "Untitled (with veil)" - 12x18 inches - oil on panel (2011)

The new series of paintings comprising “Nowhere” continue Esao’s haunted and lonely landscapes, portraits and scenes that merge surrealism with real world emotion along with inanimate objects and anthropomorphized animals that constitute their own sense of will and purpose. Many of these paintings are meant to stand alone, but they all suggest a changing of seasons and the anticipation of new beginnings. “Nowhere” refers to a desolate place that stands as a seemingly bleak starting point where time has been passing by unnoticed. These images show signs of hope; that fleeting moment where the subjects have resolved their wait and emerge for their first steps towards a new life. A silent film also plays showcasing time-lapsed details of the work being created and strengthens how they relate to one another.

Esao Andrews "Homesteader" - 8x11 inches - oil on panel (2011)

An interview with Esao Andrews

Can you share a lil’ bit about your new body of work for ‘Nowhere”?
In the past when I’ve built a body of work for a show, I’ve always treated each piece like its own contained story. Kinda like a song from an album, where a few songs may have a reprise, but each song in general stands alone. There are several that are in their own and some a continuation of anthropomorphizing inanimate objects, but most of the paintings in this show touch on fragile moments between lost hope and starting a new life.

What fuels you to keep creating?
I’m not sure. Everyone needs to be challenged in some form as a way to feel purpose and grow. Creating art is just a form of challenging yourself and as everyone you’ve admired gets older and better and new inspirations emerge, the personal challenge gets renewed. Like anybody, I feel satisfaction to successfully interest someone with an image, to get a message across. Creating more work is an attempt to keep their audience. I’ll create art in my sketchbook that I spend a lot of time on but necessarily don’t want people to see, so the reason I do it is not as clear. Maybe all of it is just practicing.

Please describe your dream project if time and money were not issues.
As long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to make a giant hedge or walled labyrinth park and would like to make giant stone fountains hidden throughout.

Esao Andrews "Persian" - 12x18 inches - oil on panel (2011)

Favorite item in your studio?
Definitely it’s this dog named Soybean.

Is there anyone in particular, artist or otherwise, that you’d like to give a shout out to here?
As part of my New Years Resolution, I’m going to personally contact everyone I’ve been neglecting to give a shout out to.

Any shows or special projects coming up after your exhibit with us here at Thinkspace you would like to mention?
Aside from participating in a few group shows the next coming months I have some big thaumatrope like paintings on the drawing board. I really want to do more drawing, some screen printed pieces are in the works too.

Esao Andrews "Halfway Away" - 24x24 inches - oil on panel (2011)

Esao Andrews ’Nowhere’

Reception with the artist:
Sat, Jan. 7th 5-8PM

Check out the works in ‘Nowhere‘ here:

Thinkspace / 6009 Washington Blvd. in Culver City, CA /

Juxtapoz interview Esao Andrews

Esao Andrews "Sea Villa" - 12x12 inches - oil on panel (2011)

Something that concerns you?
Birds falling out of the sky. Toddlers in Tiara’s. Pizza sauce being considered a veggie serving. My dog Soybean dragging his butt on the carpet.

Check out the full Juxtapoz interview with Esao here:

Esao Andrews ‘Nowhere’

Reception with the artist:
Sat, Jan. 7th 5-8PM

Thinkspace / 6009 Washington Blvd. in Culver City, CA /

Esao Andrews “Nowhere” process video

Esao Andrews has posted a simply amazing process video compiling footage of the work for his new show “Nowhere” coming to life inside his studio in New York.

If you missed the 1st video he posted of his piece ‘Spring Hare’ coming to life, be sure to check that out here.

Esao Andrews ‘Nowhere’

Reception with the artist: Sat, Jan. 7th 5-8PM

On view: Jan. 7th – Jan. 28th, 2012

Thinkspace / 6009 Washington Blvd. in Culver City, CA /

Hi-Fructose visit the studio of Esao Andrews

“‘Nowhere’ bears the signature technique of Andrews’ oeuvre and the work marvelously blends innocent creatures such as a long eared hare and thin adolescents with a lurking creepiness apparent in the details.” – HiFructose

Check out J.L. Schnabel’s full studio visit for Hi-Fructose here:

Also be sure to check out our ‘sneak peek’ with some add’l shots here:

Reception with the artist:
Sat, Jan. 7th 5-8PM

On view: Jan. 7th – Jan. 28th, 2012

Thinkspace / 6009 Washington Blvd in Culver City, CA /