James Bullough’s “Breaking Point” Previewed on Arrested Motion

James Bullough Arrested Motion

Arrested Motion is excited for James Bullough’s upcoming exhibition “Breaking Point” opening this Saturday, May 28th at Thinkspace Gallery. Check out their preview of James Bullough new work on their website.

“Entitled Breaking Point, the paintings represent four months of work for the Berlin-based artist and feature his signature glitchy fragmented aesthetic of portraiture” – Arrested Motion

Interview with James Bullough for “Breaking Point”

James Bullough Interview

Thinkspace Gallery is proud to present James Bullough’s solo exhibition Breaking Point, in the gallery’s project room. In anticipation for the show, we have an exclusive interview with James Bullough sharing with us his process of moving through creative blocks, moving to Berlin, and a dream dinner party.

SH: Artists explore many different styles before finding their voice, what inspired you to explore altered reality and what about it clicked as this was your voice?
JB: When I first started painting back in my early 20s and for probably the first 5 years or so I was painting entirely abstract works with no real direction or voice. These early paintings in retrospect were basically just studies and experimentations in composition and graphic layout. I soon realized that none of them ever felt like finished paintings and they were all missing a vital element. With some guidance from a local painter in Baltimore Matt Zoll, I basically taught myself how to use oils so I could add some elements of realism into my abstract paintings. Almost immediately I realized that the realism was the star of the show and became the main focus of the work but the abstraction never left. as my oil skills increased, I began concentrating on portraiture and that’s when it all started clicking for me. The mixture of realism and abstraction has been my thing ever since.

James Bullough Breaking Point

SH: What does a day in the studio look like, from morning to night?
JB: My work day is very different depending what stage of the process I’m in. Some days are spent with models and photographers doing photo shoots, others spent on the computer day after day manipulating photos and sketching out potential paintings. In the summers, I spend a lot of time outside painting walls, but in the studio with a brush in hand is where I like to focus most of my attention.

A typical studio day starts with a strong coffee and an hour or so at home on the computer getting any administrative stuff out of the way. I don’t have the internet at my studio which really helps with focus and attention; so once I get to the studio around noon it’s all business from then on. I’m a very slow painter and some days I might only paint a few square inches in an entire 8 hour work day… the hair, a face, a leg, exc.. It can be frustrating but it’s the only way I know how. I normally paint my backgrounds first and then sketch out my figures on top of that. Once the sketch is set in place, I do a quick and somewhat loose underpainting that normally takes a couple days. From there I meticulously paint the final image on top of the underpainting. For the most part, once I’ve put the second layer on any given spot, that section is finished and I move on to the next section. At 8 o’clock I go home and cook with my wife, have a late dinner and then up early the next morning to do it all over again.

SH: You really explore the human form in your work with your models showing extensions or collapse of form, do you take reference photos yourself or find the form elsewhere? Are your models’ dancers?
JB: With this current body of work I had a very clear idea for about a year that I wanted to create an entire series of figures floating in the air. I’ve worked with a few dancers in Berlin before on different projects and through them I met a few more and everyone was super keen to come work on the project with me so I assembled a team. I found a photographer in Hamburg named Florian Gobetz (www.graphic-to-go.de) who had done a series of photos with dancers jumping in the air and asked him to come to Berlin to work with me on the project. I am horrible with a camera but good with directing, so together with Flo’s photography skills and the incredible dancers who gave everything they had to get me the images I wanted we were able to get some amazing photos.

James Bullough Breaking Point

SH: How do you battle self-doubt or creative blocks?
JB: This is a great question and one of the most difficult parts of being an artist, especially one that works alone. It is not uncommon for me to go weeks in the studio without anyone seeing anything I’ve done. This can be jarring and the self-doubt can really start to fester. I normally get to a point with almost every painting where all I can see are the problems and mistakes, a point where another artist might move on to a different piece and come back later with fresh eyes after some time has passed. I on the other hand approach painting more like sport and each new piece as a battle, once I’ve started, there’s no turning back. Through years of painting this way I’ve learned that if I just plow through, eventually I’ll figure it out.

SH: What made you decide to move to Berlin? How do you think that has shaped you as an artist?
JB: In 2001 I was living in Australia and met a girl from Berlin (now my wife). In the five years that followed my visit to Berlin often to see her and it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the city. It’s always been hard for me to put my finger on exactly what it was that I fell in love with but there is a sense of freedom and creativity in Berlin that I had never experienced anywhere else. At that time in my life, I needed a change and I knew that Berlin, because of it’s cheap living and creative vibe could provide me with what I needed to make the leap from being a gainfully employed middle school teacher to a basically unemployed full-time painter… and I was right.

In Berlin, I was able to live cheaply and get a studio and just experiment without the pressure of making money and getting a “real job” At the time I still hadn’t found my voice as a painter and I needed a couple of years of trying different things in order to find it. I spent a lot of time in the studio figuring things out and I began painting in the many abandoned spaces in and around Berlin and experimenting with painting on walls for the first time. Those first two or three years in Berlin were extremely important for me and In the end, I think the greatest gift Berlin ever gave to me was time.

James Bullough Breaking Point

SH: What’s been a WOW moment for you thus far in your career?
JB: In 2015 I was invited to paint a wall inside the Long Beach Museum of Art in California as part of the Vitality and Verve show put on by the LBMA, Thinkspace Gallery, and POW! WOW! Long Beach. The other participating artists were some of my biggest influences in the art world and people I had been admiring for years and years… legends like Craola, Audry Kawasaki, Tristan Eaton, Nychos, Jeff Soto and basically everyone involved. I felt like it was a mistake that I was even invited, that I didn’t belong in such a group, but I also saw it as an opportunity to show people what I could really do. I made it my mission to paint my best mural to that point and really go for broke. As I worked there throughout the week and built friendships with these people who meant so much to me, I also banged out a great painting that I was really proud of. There is no greater accomplishment in my opinion than gaining the respect of the people you so greatly admire, and that week I felt like I had done exactly that.

SH: What motivated you to do a podcast? What’s been your most favorite and least favorites part of that process?
JB: VantagePoint Radio was an idea I had after living in Berlin for a few years and meeting so many different and interesting artists. I found myself time and time again sitting in a bar or at a party with someone and because of my curious and chatty nature we often fell into deep conversations about their practices and how and why they do what they do. I found it really inspirational and informative. It just seemed logical that other people would be interested to hear these conversations so I set out to start a radio show. A friend of mine named Tom Phillipson (www.Auto64.com) had worked in radio before in Australia so I asked him to be my co-host and produce the show and it was that simple. Because Berlin is such a magnet for street artists and muralists, we were able to get some of the biggest names in the game and once the ball started rolling it never really stopped. I’m supra proud of what we’ve accomplished with VantagePoint. At this point, we’ve done over 60 interviews and thoroughly documented the scene in a way nobody else has done.

Visit www.VantagePointRadio.com to check out all of the past shows and videos.

James Bullough Breaking Point

SH: Where was your first mural? What was the prep and execution like?
JB: Oh man… my first mural was in Washington DC on the side of a bar back in 2004 or so. I painted it together with an artist named Andrea Wlodarczyk and we really didn’t know what we were doing. It was a super fun process but took us almost the entire summer, mostly because we painted during open hours and the drinks and food were free so we really didn’t try to rush things. Today I think I’d probably do that wall in an afternoon. It was kind of a cheesy beach scene with a crashing wave and all that but it wasn’t too bad. This was years before I would ever pick up a spray can so we did the whole thing with brushes and latex paint and it was kind of a nightmare. I recently passed by that wall for the first time in years and it’s still there and in pretty good condition. It wasn’t my best work, but I’m still proud of that wall

SH: If you through a dinner party for 5 people dead or alive, who would be on the guest list? What would be served? And what music is playing in the background?
JB: WOW! this is basically an impossible question but here goes…
Guest List: Moss Def, Adam Carolla, Conor Harrington, Erika Badu, and the 25-year-old version of my baby girl who will be born in September
Food: Maryland Blue crabs with tons of Old Bay seasoning and unlimited Natty Boh beer in a can on ice.
Music: The entire album ‘Circles’ by Adam F and a selection of Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Bob James.

James Bullough Breaking Point

SH: What do you think is the biggest misconception about being an artist and about your work in general?
JB: The work ethic! I think people have an impression of artists as relaxed maybe even somewhat lazy creatives. The fact is almost every successful artists I know is an extreme workaholic and a master of the hustle. Learning to paint and create an image from absolutely nothing is a skill and takes a lot of hard work, time, and focus, but the business side of the job is just as demanding. I don’t have an assistant or a manager or anything so every aspect of my business is done by me. Deciding what projects to take and which to turn down, who to work with or not, and knowing how many different projects you can handle at any given time is extremely important and can have massive consequences on your career now and in the future. I don’t think artists get enough credit for what they truly are, extremely driven, self-employed entrepreneurs who both produce and manage the product that their company and family live off of.

James Bullough Postcard

Please join us Saturday, May 28th for the opening reception of Breaking Point from 6-9pm. For additional information on Thinkspace Gallery and our upcoming exhibitions please visit the Thinkspace Gallery website.

Hi-Fructose Features James Bullough Online

James Bullough HiFructose

We wanted to highlight the online feature of artist James Bullough that is up on Hi-Fructose. James’s was apart of our April ‘Gumbo‘ show and the above pictured mural is currently on view at the Long Beach Museum of Art for Vitality and Verve. We are excited to be working with James and to continue to share his work with an international audience. Keep an eye out for new work by James Bullough in our upcoming London exhibition LAX/LHR and later this year for Spoke Art Miami during Art Basel.

Please visit Hi-Fructose’s website to view the article.

Opening Night of Gumbo, Beautanica, and Contenders

Thinkspace hosted a gallery full of art lovers for the opening night of Gumbo, Beautanica, and Contenders. Gumbo is a group exhibition featuring works by Alex Yanes, James Bullough, Matthew Grabelsky, Ryan Hewett, Sergio Garcia, Troy Coulterman and Troy Lovegates. A diverse group of artists that reflect the diversity of our steadily expanding gallery roster. It’s a fantastic exhibition showing various styles, from sculpture to figurative abstract portraiture. Australian artist Bec Winnel exhibited her new work in our project room, featuring ethereal beauties who mesmerized guests. Forcing collectors to stare on, torn between which pieces to purchase. And sold out before doors opened, Brian Mashburn’s new work for ‘Contender’ is a captivating teaser for his upcoming show in July.
You can view all the photos from the opening night on Flickr or Facebook. The exhibitions are on view from April 25 through May 16 during gallery hours.


Above photos and all opening night photography is by photographer Sam Graham.

An Interview with James Bullough for group exhibition ‘GUMBO’

Jame Bullough piece for Gumbo

A short but sweet interview with James Bullough for his upcoming show ‘GUMBO’ at Thinkspace Gallery. ‘GUMBO’ will be featuring new pieces from seven Thinkspace artists who all bring a different style, voice, and flavor to their art. GUMBO opens Saturday April 25th from 6-9pm, and will be on view till May 16th. 

SH: What artist in the upcoming ‘Gumbo’ show would you want to collaborate with and why?
JB: I absolutely love Ryan Hewett’s work. I first saw one of his pieces in Berlin at the Thinkspace curated LAX/TXL show at Urban Nation and was immediately captivated by it. Being a realist painter myself I have always admired painters with a looser, more intuitive approach like Ryan’s. Besides the obvious connection of portraiture in each of our own works it is hard to find many other similarities. This vast contrast in styles and approach is extremely interesting to me and could result in something really special. I also feel like I could learn a lot from watching him work and sharing ideas.

Troy Coulterman would also be a nice collaboration combo. What’s really interesting about him is that when I first came across his work last year in Miami at the Aqua art fare I realized that he and I have actually already done some work that is eerily similar. He has these amazing hand sculptures that are cut up and glitched out similar to what I do in my work. It would be awesome to push this even further and see what we could come up with together. I’ve also always wanted to try and paint onto a 3D object, such as a glitched out hand, and see how realistic I could get it to look. …hmmm, actually this collaboration is starting to sound pretty good. I might have to make a phone call to Troy.

SH: When do you get the most work done; morning, noon, or night?
JB: I’m all over the place. I haven’t had internet in my studio for a little over a year now which I find really cuts down on distractions and ups my productivity a lot, but what that also means is that I have to do all of my administrative work in the mornings before I head off to the studio for the day so my mornings are pretty productive but not with anything fun. Once I get into the studio around lunch time and turn my creative brain on I tend to work straight through for 6 or 7 hours with very few breaks. Leading up to a show can sometimes get crazy with more like 10 or 12 hour studio sessions or longer.

SH: In three words, describe your artwork.
JB: I only need two… ‘Shifted Realism’

SH: How long does it take you to finish a piece? What is your processes?
JB: I tend to take a day or two just for the planning and prepping for a new painting. I start by picking a surface from my stockpile of old wood and metal in my studio, or if I’m working on canvas I’ll determine the size and build it out. The size, shape, and material of the surface helps determine what I will paint. I’m extremely picky about selecting just the right image and experimenting with different ways to break it up and alter it. There’s always hours and hours of unsuccessful experiments before I land on something good. Once the image is all set I try to do a quick underpainting in one day, covering the entire piece depending on the size. From there I can start working on the fun part of adding detailed layers of oil paint over the underpainting. Two layers seems to be working for me at the moment but sometimes it can take a couple more to get it just right. All in, I guess it takes about a week or a week and a half per painting
Ironically when it comes to painting murals, I can paint a 20×50 foot wall with spray cans in about half the time it takes me to do a 20×20 inch oil painting in the studio. Go figure.

james bullough piece 2 for gumbo

SH: Do you remember the first time you showed your work to the public? Where was it?
JB: About seven years ago just for fun I started making paintings in my basement in the evenings after my day job as a middle school teacher in Baltimore. Two years later I met a guy in a bar who had a gallery in Brooklyn and he asked to see some of my work. I showed him some stuff on my phone and he invited me to be part of a showcase at his gallery with about ten other artists. I showed 7 or 8 pieces in that show, two of which were good and the rest were terrible but the experience was amazing. It was just the spark I needed in my life and in less than one year from that opening night I had quit my job of nearly a decade, sold my house and all my possessions, and moved to Berlin to paint full time. Second best decision I’ve made in my life so far.

SH: Do you have any wise words for a fledgling artist who admires your work?
JB: Yeah, listen to my radio show! Every other week I interview a different artist or gallerist for an hour and get the whole story about how and why they came to do what they do. There’s no single formula to success, especially in the art game so hearing all the different approaches and journeys that different artists take is extremely helpful and inspirational. Not to mention it’s basically the best thing you can listen to in your studio while you’re working on your own work. And I hear the host is pretty good too… just sayin.

The show is called VantagePoint. You can listen to or download any of the shows from the past year and a half on our website www.VantagePointRadio.com or subscribe to it on iTunes and thank me later.

SH: Bonus question: Speaking of gumbo, have you ever been to New Orleans? If so, tell us a tale! If not, tell us another tale.
JB: Nope I’ve never been to New Orleans, but I’ve got a Creole uncle who makes a mean Gumbo every thanksgiving. Shouts to big Willie!

gumbo postcard

Group Exhibition GUMBO Opens Saturday April 25, 2015

gumbo postcard

 

Gumbo – Alex Yanes, James Bullough, Matthew Grabelsky, Ryan Hewett, Sergio Garcia, Troy Coulterman, Troy Lovegates

Opening Reception: Saturday April 25th 6-9pm
On view April 25, 2015 – May 16, 2015

Thinkspace is pleased to present Gumbo, a group exhibition featuring works by Alex Yanes, James Bullough, Matthew Grabelsky, Ryan Hewett, Sergio Garcia, Troy Coulterman and Troy Lovegates. A truly divergent group of Thinkspace artists, the show reflects the steadily expanding diversity of the gallery’s roster. Firmly forward-looking, while ambitiously setting the pace for the New Contemporary movement, these artists have phenomenal contributions to make and are consistently raising the standard. Gumbo is an exciting grouping of the gallery’s contrasting visions, personalities and media.

Alex Yanes creates whimsical multi-dimensional works, inspired by everything from subculture to his recent initiation into fatherhood. Based out of Miami, a vibrant urban culture that sings through his aesthetic, Yanes creates installation based pieces out of wood, acrylic, resin and enamel. With hyper-saturated colors and contrasts, immaculately finished surfaces and electric energy, Yanes’ spatial installations and objects command a physical and experiential presence. They combine a graphic sensibility, drawn from his formative years immersed in tattoo, rock, hip-hop and skateboard cultures, and an imaginative expansiveness that transforms the familiar into something entirely new. Elevated by an undeniable vibrance and individuality, his stylized works feel like living things.

James Bullough is an American born artist living and working in Berlin, Germany. His paintings, and huge monumentally scaled site-specific murals, are phenomenal combinations of realist painting technique and graphic punctuation. Inspired by gritty urban graffiti as a young artist growing up in Washington, DC, Bullough harnessed its energy in his work, and perfected a realistic oil painting technique from his study of the Old Masters. Combining the momentum of the one and the technical precision of the other, his work is about staging compelling contrasts and juxtapositions. Working in everything from oil, spray paint and ink on canvas, Bullough’s paintings strike a balance between realistic figurations and stylized interruption. Disjointing the realistic elements with graphic areas and fractured or striated planes, Bullough intends to challenge the viewer’s perception.

Matthew Grabelsky’s implausible, and wonderfully fantastic, paintings depict surreal manifestations of the subconscious in unlikely urban contexts. Influenced by 19th century French Academic painting, his technical sophistication and refinement contribute to the delightful contrast of these unlikely scenes and humorous mixed-reality paintings. In his recent body of work the New York City subways are invaded by quasi-mythical creatures, part human and part beast, or surreal appearances by other wonderful grotesques. In these otherwise unassuming daily scenes of public transit, Grabelsky inserts a cast of characters borrowed from fairytale and the zoo, delighting in the absurd and the impossible. Intending his work to inspire sub-conscious free association in his viewers, Grabelsky plays with context and expectation.

Ryan Hewett approaches portraiture with an expressive and painterly aesthetic. Pursuing the capture of energy rather than the practice of verisimilitude, the South African artist has a distinctive painting style that seizes the energy and observed experience of his sitters. With loosely layered surfaces that emanate depth, light and dimension, Hewett creates emotive and passionate representations that embrace the materiality and texture of his medium. Working with oil paints, his figurative impressions align themselves with the tumultuous tradition of expressionism. With rich hues and suggestive glimpses, his works are intense painterly interpretations of the body.

Sergio Garcia is inspired by the unconventional and the creative subconscious. The Texas based painter and sculptor, constructs works that are surreal combinations that place familiar situations and objects in extraordinary circumstances. A Hyperrealist in the truest sense, his sculptural works are uncannily true to life and play with the viewer’s spatial and contextual expectations. Wonderfully bizarre, they transform the mundane into fantastic phenomena, and encourage mind-boggling encounters in unexpected spaces. Similarly, his paintings offer whimsically unexpected combinations and creatively evocative scenes, inspiring free association and speculative wonder.

Troy Coulterman, Canadian artist, creates resin sculptures that seem like graphic novel or comic book characters come to life. Rich with suggestion, Coulterman artfully conveys ideas, metaphors and themes with graphic concision, capturing extensive narrative moments in a single sculptural body or gesture. Inspired by graphics and comic books, his cast of wonderfully bizarre characters emote and convey with exciting presence. As three-dimensional objects that read partly as animation come to life, and partly as dimensional drawing, they command our attention with an unrelenting pull. Distinctly human in their emotive power, but clearly other in their wonderful absurdity, his figures are captivating.

Troy Lovegates, widely known as “Other”, creates ambitious large-scale mural works with precision and detail. A street artist from Canada, his works are heavily patterned, saturated with hyper color, and incomparably dense and rich. With an impressive attention to detail and line, Lovegates builds figures and motifs through heavily condensed mark making. The figures in his work are wonderfully exaggerated and poetic, sympathetically drawn from equal parts caricature and realistic observation. His smaller format works are executed in several materials, ranging from weathered wood, books, paper and linoleum cuts. Self-described as an artist who enjoys the chaos of simultaneity and messy working conditions, Lovegates is constantly revising and adapting previous efforts, reintegrating them into current bodies of work that reflect the history of their making.