Interview with Kevin Peterson for “Wild”

We’re excited to be showing new work by Houston-based artist Kevin Peterson in our main room for his solo exhibition Wild opening Saturday, March 2nd.  Peterson’s hyper-realistic compositions create a fictional world in which innocence and collapse are brought into difficult proximity.

In anticipation of Wild our interview with Kevin Peterson discusses the inspiration behind the exhibition, his dream collaboration, and what kind of ice cream his body of work would inspire.

SH: What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? Were you exploring a specific theme or pushing yourself artistically in a certain way?

KP: Just growing up, what its like to be a kid and what its like to think about being a kid. How things change over time and how we change. I like thinking about our world in different stages. Seeing how the things we make crumble and decay. Seeing nature take over when it’s allowed to, but even nature is cyclical. A forest burns down, but it grows back stronger, it’s just a matter of time.
The settings of these always have an end of the world look to them. I don’t really believe in an apocalypse type situation, but it is a different world than what we are living in currently. A new phase I would say.  Things are crumbling, but it’s not a reason for fear. It’s a new beginning, a clean slate. It’s important to remember that change can lead to good. It can make you adjust your trajectory, reevaluate your priorities. I suppose the kids in my paintings are a reflection of a hope that I have that people will learn from past mistakes and face the future with a sense of calm reason. Part of that is re-prioritizing what we value. The work is a vision of a new generation of kids that will not rule the world like tyrants but will respect nature and the world we have.

 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.  

KP: I swear, every time I paint the portrait part of a painting (especially a kids face) its a technical challenge. It always looks like shit in the beginning and for a long time after. I just keep working it and working it and eventually I get it where I want it. It’s always a battle. I used my son as a model for a couple of these paintings and that added a whole other level of difficulty. It being my kid, I found it extra challenging to capture him perfectly. 


SH: How do you approach starting a new piece? Walk us through the process of a piece from conception to completion.

KP: Sometimes I start with a background image I like and sometimes I start with a picture of a model I want to use, it doesn’t always come about the same way. I work pretty closely with my reference photos, but the final scenes are composites of my images. I have tons of images of urban blight or abandoned places that I’ve taken over the years and I also have tons of pictures of models that I’ve taken down at my studio. I use Photoshop to lay out a composition that I will use to paint from. My pieces are pretty well planned out, but the Photoshop composites are never perfect though, they are a framework. The challenge comes in working out all the details during the actual painting process.  My goal is to create a scene that is both implausible or fantastic, but at the same time totally believable to the viewer.  Just technically speaking, my work takes many, many hours. I paint in pretty thin layers, just building up and refining over time. It takes a lot of passes to get everything how I like it. 

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

KP: My paintings are well planned out before I ever start painting. I love every bit of the painting part, but the excitement comes in the planning stage. When I add that element to a certain background or setting that I want to paint, whether it be one of my references of a model or maybe an animal. I can tell the second I put it in there, it fits, its like “bingo!” that’s it.  It sometimes takes hundreds of different attempts to find the right fit, sometimes I never find it, but when I do, its really thrilling and I cant wait to start painting at that point. 


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

KP: I put a lot of time into ideas and concepts for paintings that never actually make it to the canvas. I sometimes feel like I’m so close to something good, but I just can’t make it work in the end and I have to abandon it. It’s like having this sort of vague idea in your head and not being able to translate it to reality. That can be frustrating and it can feel like a waste of time, but its all part of the process.

SH: Is there a piece of knowledge or advice around being a working artist that you wish you knew 10 years ago?

KP: Don’t compare yourself to other artists. It’s a hard thing to do. Also, don’t just art all the time, you gotta actually live your life so you will have the stuff to paint about. 

SH: If your body of work inspired an ice cream flavor, what would it be called and what are the ingredients?

KP: You would take a cone with some pure and perfect flavor and dip it in a vat of dirt and grime and shit. Sounds delicious!

SH: If you could collaborate with any other artist (dead or alive) in any art form, such as music, film, dance etc… what would be your dream collab and what would you create?

KP: I don’t really enjoy collaborating. It goes back to hating group work in school. I love film though. I guess I’d pick a director like Scorsese or Terrance Malick or Spike Lee maybe. I wouldn’t do anything though, I’d just want to watch them work. 

SH: What do you think the role of artists is in society? How does other artwork inform how you move through life?

KP: I think different artists can play a lot of different roles in life. All I know is that when I find something that an artist created that expresses a feeling that I could never have put into words but nails exactly how I feel or have felt, that is a really comforting feeling. Knowing you’re not alone. It’s powerful, it’s rare, but its why I love art.

SH: Favorite way to celebrate the completion of a project/body of work?

KP: I worked really hard on this last show, a lot of long days and late nights.  I’m actually taking it a little bit easy since I shipped the pieces off. Decompressing a little. I’m doing yard work. I actually discovered a few years back that I love gardening, even though Im crap at it and most of my plants die. I really love spring,  just looking around town at peoples yards and at the nurseries to see what different plants I can get to replace the ones I killed over the previous year. 

Join us for the opening reception of Wild, Saturday March 2nd from 6 to pm.


Interview with Kisung Koh for “Way of Life II”

Kisung Koh’s “Way of Life II” opened Saturday, February 2nd and is on view till February 23rd. The exhibition features new works by Koh that highlights the hyper-realistically rendered and yet staged animals in abstracted or imagined spaces. The creatures acting as symbols for the complexity of life that is inexpressibly human and spiritual.

Our interview with Kisung Koh for “Way of Life II” discusses the inspiration behind the exhibition, the most challenging piece in the show, and the best advise he’s every received.

SH: For those that are not familiar with you and your work, can you give us a brief look at your artistic background and zodiac sign?-

KK:  I was born and raised in South Korea then moved to Canada in 2006. My childhood memories are full of exploring nature/looking for any creatures in nature. All I wanted to do was nothing but witness, study and feel their life while the majority of kids went for video games or sports. I used to bring insects home and watch them again, only to be forced to release them after my Dad told me to.. haha. Anyway, I believe these habits have led me to create their ‘world’ in my works as I got older. I feel like I went back to my childhood in my works. In addition, I see a lot of myself from nature and learn life lesson such as dealing with relationships between people many times. 

I studied illustration at Sheridan College in ON, Canada, graduating with a BAA in 2012. I work and live in Toronto now. My zodiac sign is Scorpio. 

SH: What inspired this latest body of work?

KK: The new body of work for ‘Way of life 2’ has initially started with my feeling in people’s relationships and my thoughts to the world we live in.

By meaning ‘ the world’ is the most diverse and complex society. We feel many emotions and struggles in many circumstances. I feel like we hustle everyday in our lives. Since I’ve spent a lot of time for myself with depression while preparing this show,  I thought about the emotions and struggle that people could feel such as love, hate, sadness, abandoned, loneliness, solitude, confusion, selfishness, and mercy. I dedicated entirely those feelings to the new body of work, and decided to call it ‘way of life’.

These works are very personal but i believe and hope that viewers can apply themselves to my works.

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.  

KK: Polar bear one. In fact, it was a totally different painting at first and wasn’t even a polar bear but a mountain lion. This painting got me through so much time and trouble when I started this. I can’t really explain but every process with this particular piece gave me a crazy amount of stress and depression. Not because of the fact that I wasn’t happy with the piece, I basically had painted a number of poses and faces of a mountain lion that I thought were right for the piece, but in the end, none of them worked. At some point, I gave it up and was about to destroy it but then went back to this piece again. Mountain lions just wasn’t working here.

And I could’ve just gone away and started the next one. However, I strongly felt that I must get it right in this piece, it was like as if I had to win against the devil.  I know it sounds stupid. Again, I can’t explain and this might sound very foolish but somehow its got me more depressed every time. I was working on this, and it made me start thinking about who I am in relationships with people and society, why I think I’m always alone, why I think that I might have bad energy, my dog might not be normal because of my energy, and so on. As I’m writing this, I might regret later to reveal these negative thoughts but I want to be honest. In the end, I feel that I got the piece right.

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?

KK: I start to think about an animal that I like to paint. Then I create situations or stories, most of the time they are reflections of my life in a metaphorical way, then start creating the look I would be if I were this animal. And yes, I have a sketchbook on hand and sometimes I would like to take a photo or make a note in my phone.

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

KK: In my works, I spend a lot of time to create facial expressions of animals, in between dreamy and realistic. When I get it right, I’m happy. I also get excited when my final work looks the same that I had first. I’m sure many artists feel the same, but it’s a challenge for me to make the final work looking just like the image in your head because I sometimes change the entire mood of image or myself while I’m working.

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

KK: Hm, I think making a ‘right'( for me) image and mood that a piece shows is the challenge. Maybe I think I’m too picky most of the times. It’s also challenging to make the right ‘look’ on the animal’s face. 

SH:  What do you think the role of artists is in society? How does other artwork inform how you move through life? 

KK: I can’t answer this question, because I think the role of artists in society has so many and I agree with most of them.  All I can say is it’s essential in our life. 

SH: If your body of work inspired an ice cream flavor, what would it be called and what are the ingredients?

KK: I’m not sure the flavor but I just imagined in my head that someone eating a vanilla ice cream cone and looking at my works. I tried to see different ice cream in someone’s hand but it has to be vanilla ice cream cone, no syrup on. Let’s say McDonald ice cream cone but in longer cone. 

SH: What is the best advice you’ve received as an artist? The best advice you’ve received in general?

KK: “Believe in yourself”

SH: Favorite way to celebrate the completion of a project/body of work?

KK: I want to have beautiful times with my wife and my two dogs. They are my everything in Canada. 

Stephanie Buer & Daniel Bilodeau Opening Reception – January 5, 2019

Thank you to all those who made it out to the first opening of 2019. We kicked off the year with new works from Portland-based artists Stephanie Buer in our main room and New York-based artists Danial Bilodeau in the project room, with wire works by Spenser Little in the office space. The exhibition drew a great turnout despite the Los Angeles rain and set a nice tone for the rest of the year. Make sure to come out and see both exhibitions now on view till January 26th.

To view available pieces from Stephanie Buer’s “Wild Abandon” and David Bilodeau’s “State of the Art” visit the Thinkspace website.

STEPHANIE BUER’S “WILD ABANDON” OPENING JANUARY 2019

STEPHANIE BUER
WILD ABANDON
JAN 5 – JAN 26, 2019

Thinkspace is pleased to present new works by Portland-based artist Stephanie Buer in Wild Abandon. Known for her poignant, photorealistic paintings in oil, and charcoal works on paper, Buer captures the abandoned recesses of the city, finding unexpected richness in its desolation and quietude in its abrupt vacancies. This ongoing body of work, first inspired by Buer’s time spent in Detroit, Michigan, exploring the hidden corners of the city and the fallow architectural remains left by the imploded American auto industry, has since evolved into a poetic series of documentary memorials, capturing moments in the derelict lifespan of the city’s castaway structures. Buer offers glimpses of time arrested, through the abeyance of abandoned buildings and the meditative calm of their imposing discontinuity, a barrenness that seems surreal by contrast to the excessively populated pace of the world we inhabit. Without human subjects, Buer places the symbolic burden of this absence upon that which remains in view: the physical vestiges of abandonment.

The invasive quality of quiet that shapes Buer’s contemplative works is unique; they are arresting in that they abruptly apprehend the passage of time. Her paintings still a moment in the temporal lifespan of these abandoned structures, some in more advanced states of deterioration than others. They exist on the outskirts of time and space, divested of use and function. By capturing the relics of urban development exhausted or gone wrong, her works reveal a fascination with the cyclical life of these structures, and their fate once returned to the lawlessness of margins. Overcome by nature, vandals, entropy, and the socially peripheral, a quiet haunting consumes these buildings with the spectral implication of loss and extinction their desertedness implies.

There is, however, redemptive peace and beauty found amongst Buer’s contemporary ruins; in the eventual reappearance of nature where once it was cleared and in the continuity of a kind of rebel growth in spite of ultimate desertion or human intent. Mysterious in the anarchic freedom their marginal existences imply, these spaces represent a kind of exemption from the restraint of the colonized city. Something elastic and free, while simultaneously vulnerable and uncertain, makes the condemned structure strangely more akin to human life. An evocative moodiness persists in Buer’s poetic compositional choices, her immersive attention to detail, and her emotive capture of time and place. The works are lovingly, and even painfully, precise in their lush detail and arrested stillness.

Buer combines the representational clarity and control of photorealism with the subtly perceptual handling of her medium. Her impressionistic treatment of light is imperceptible, but produces dramatic contrasts, while the immersive level of detail she realizes is staggering. These color-saturated paintings and dark monochromatic works on paper are labor-intensive documentations that seamlessly combine observational realism with extremely subtle, affect-driven stylization. Buer’s attention to the rendering of minutiae and texture make entry into the scenes she proposes physically palpable and intimately close. We’re left with the strange impression of having entered a world of slightly offset metaphysical registers, with structures that exist somehow ambiguously ‘elsewhere.’ Everything unassuming in the absences Buer captures feels somehow significant and revelatory.