Behind the misty fog and low thick clouds,  Brian Mashburn hides landmarks and symbols that create the story of “A Sublime Object.” For his latest exhibition, Origin Stories, now on view at Thinkspace in Culver City, Mashburn lets us into his world with anecdotes that accompany various pieces. Below highlights the reference points hidden in plain sight within “A Sublime Object.”

A Sublime Object

This piece references various conspiracy theories and contested historical accounts.

a – Branch Dividian compound in Waco, Texas with adjacent downward spiral

b – St. Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square in Moscow, Russia

c – Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho.  Twin Falls was the site of one of the more insidious fake news stories from 2016 that escalated to national prominence.

d – Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, SC, site of a mass shooting by a white supremacist in 2015 that killed 9 people.  To the left of the church is the monument to John Calhoun.  Calhoun was the 7th vice president of the US and an influential figure in the southern secessionist and pro-slavery movements leading up to the civil war.  The statue’s proximity to the church in Charleston and it’s ominous presence in the background of many photographs of Mother Emanuel is unsettling.

e – Black spruce trees, sometimes called drunken trees.  These tilted trees are found in areas where the permafrost has melted causing them to tilt at seemingly random angles.  The increasing rate of permafrost thaw can be attributed to, among other things, anthropogenic climate change.

f – Weaver home, site of the 1992 incident known as Ruby Ridge, a precursor of sorts to the Waco siege.

g – “Bigfoot” from the Patterson-Gimlin footage, being observed by Mabel (dog).

h – Lee Harvey Oswald with rifle and Marxist propaganda paper, from a controversial photograph Oswald claimed was a fake.

New Print Editions from Brian Mashburn and Michael Reeder! Available during the Opening Reception of “Origin Stories” and “mOMENt”

The opening of Brian Mashburn’s “Origin Stories” and Michael Reeder’s “mOMENt” is tonight and we will be dropping two new print editions from Mashburn and one from Reeder. The prints will only be available this evening during the opening, and any remaining prints will be shared via our webshop next Friday.

Both exhibitions are best appreciated in person, so we look forward to seeing you this evening!

Available during tonight’s reception from 6-9PM.

Edition of 25
16.75×20 inches / 61×45.7cm
Fine art print on 290gsm paper
Signed and numbered by the artist
Printed by Static Medium
$75 each
‘Walking Shadows’
Edition of 25
24×13.75 inches / 61×45.7cm
Fine art print on 290gsm paper
Signed and numbered by the artist
Printed by Static Medium
$75 each

‘Epiphany I’
Edition of 60
18×22 inches / 30×55.8cm
Fine art print on 290gsm paper

Each print will be hand embellished (* an example will be in our e-mail update this Sat. prior to opening)
Signed and numbered by the artist
Printed by Static Medium



Interview with Brian Mashburn for “Origin Stories”

Thinkspace is proud to present Brian Mashburn’s solo exhibition ‘Origin Story’ in our main roomWe’ve been showing Mashburn’s signature hyper-realistic and resonate smoky landscapes for the last three years and this is his first solo main room exhibition. We are excited to present this Ashville-based artist’s most substantial body of work to date, as he explores the origin stories of the self through desolate compositions.  In anticipation of Mashburn’s upcoming exhibition with us, we have an exclusive interview with Brian Mashburn to discuss his latest body of work, his favorite and least favorite aspect of his work, and time travel.

Origin Stories opening reception is from 6 – 9 pm this coming Saturday, April 7th in our main room

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

BM: This will be my first solo in the main room at Thinkspace and I’m pretty sure it’s the largest single body of work I’ve made to date.  I’m excited and very grateful for the opportunity, looking forward to spending a few days in LA, too.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the notion of narrative history and origin stories both on a personal level and on a wider cultural or societal one.  Our identities are often couched in origin stories – a recounting of major life events such as where you grew up, people you knew and loved, tragedy endured and avoided, that all come together to form the present moment.  It’s also to do with heritage, a word that carries somewhat unfortunate euphemistic attributes these days, but nonetheless, from what tribe are your parents are from?  Grandparents?  How did they come to be here or there?  It’s interesting to me the level at which this sort of thing shapes our current experience in and of the world.
Also birds.  Lots of birds in this show.

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

BM: My daily media diet is centered more around podcasts than websites or social.  I don’t know that I have 3 websites I visit daily unless you count Gmail and maybe YouTube or Netflix, but as far as podcasts go there are quite a few I listen to regularly.  I like The Weeds and Ezra Klein’s show, Bill Simmons, WTF, On Being, Fresh Air, Us and Them, Unexplained, Past Present, Conversations with Tyler Cowan, and many more.

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

BM: It’s always exciting when something new or experimental works out.  I’m always trying to improve or evolve in some form or other – sometimes things just work out, which is great.

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

BM: In the same vein as the previous question, it’s frustrating when the work feels stagnant.

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

BM: I always think I’m going to take a break but in reality it rarely if ever happens.  I generally take a couple extra days when I’m in California to go somewhere, maybe camp, be out in nature.  In the days leading up to a big show I tend to get pretty burnt but as soon as it’s over the main thing I want to do is just get back in the studio.  Something about idle hands feels dangerous.

SH: How do you plan out your compositions?

BM: Most of my compositions are pretty basic at their core.  I’ll occasionally do a thumbnail sketch and decide on a compositional stem or armature on which I’ll build the picture.  More often I’ll just have a general design in mind, such as one based on an ‘L’ or ‘O’ and just feel it out as I go – working background to foreground.

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

BM: I work every day with varying degrees of success.  I almost always have at least a dozen paintings in the works.  There is the occasional day when I don’t paint but rather work on reference and research.

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

BM: I probably eat better when a deadline is approaching.  It’s basically the only downtime I have so I try and make it count. I’ve been cooking a lot lately, too, been really into cast iron.  I find it very rewarding to not be completely inept in the kitchen.

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?

BM: Elvis.

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.

BM: Yes, all the time.  I particularly like when something mundane gets the ball rolling, like when the power goes out or unexpected overnight snow.

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?

BM: Lots of brushes, mostly Gamblin and Winsor/Newton oils, several easels, a computer and iPad.  I would love to have a studio with higher ceilings and better light.

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? 

BM: It would probably be something nature-related, like go see a short-faced bear or woolly mammoth.

Check out past interviews with Brian Mashburn for his previous exhibitions with Thinkspace Projects. 

2017 Interview with Brian Mashburn

2015 Interview with Brian Mashburn


Brian Mashburn’s solo exhibition “Origin Stories” is on the horizon with the opening only two weekends away. Mashburn continues to take us through fog-laden landscapes in his new body of work, with compositions that possess details only truly appreciated in person. Until April 7, here is a taste of what is to come from Brian Mashburn.


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.