Interview with James Bullough

Scope is a great way for us to close out the year, and 2017 didn’t disappoint. We want to thank everyone that came to the booth and a big round of applause to the entire staff of Scope. Also, major kudos to both James Bullough and Michael Reeder who sold out their solo shows during the fair. Below is our interview with Jame Bullough on behalf of his mini solo at Scope.

Was this your first time at Scope?  If not, what is your favorite thing about Scope? Any good stories from this year to share?

2017 was my third year in a row showing at Scope, each time with Thinkspace Gallery.  My first two years, however, I only showed one or two pieces versus the 7 that I showed this year.  Maybe because it takes place in December but I see Scope and the whole Miami Basel week as a culmination of the years work for everyone in the industry.  It’s a place where you can come and see a good percentage of the active people in the scene all in one place and see how their work has progressed since the last year (or not) and who is showing with who.  It’s kind of like a “state of the union” for the art world.  Add on top of that that many of the artists make the trip to Miami so it’s also kind of a family reunion of sorts for everyone to catch up and party and let loose to celebrate the end of another successful year.

Every day and especially every night is an adventure with that many friends in town.  There were a couple epic nights this year, the stories of which I should probably keep to myself, but one that stands out was definitely the night of the Secret Walls battle which I participated in followed by a secret birthday party for my man Alexis Diaz… that was a HEAVY night.

What did you want to push and explore whether in technique or theme in your body of work for Scope?

Showing 7 paintings at Scope allowed me to showcase a few different techniques and styles that I’ve been playing with over the past couple years.  Seeing my work online and in person are two very different experiences and I knew that more actual people would see my work in person at Scope than any other exhibition so I took the opportunity to really push each painting and show the world what I can do.  I showed 5 of my more traditional “fractured” paintings but with each of them, I pushed them further than I normally had in the past.  I added more complex backgrounds and use more complex clothing on my models and I also fractured the figures more than I normally would to really blow peoples minds.  I also worked with one model for two of my paintings who has a very intricate full sleeve tattoo which I highlighted to emphasize the technical quality of my work.  On the final two paintings, I showed a new technique I’ve been slowly incorporating into my work where it appears that the painting is peeling off of the canvas (or wood panel in my case).  When done correctly the effect is really grabbing and I enjoy watching people walk up to the painting to see if it is really peeling off or just painted to look like it is.  My work has always been about distorting or disrupting the traditional idea of portraiture so, in a way, the peeling paintings are actually no different from the fractured paintings, it’s just a different way to break up and disrupt the portrait.

Who has been a major artistic influence in your life? Not influencing your style of art, but influencing your approach to art.

There are two very different worlds that have influenced my work heavily, both in style but also approach… Graffiti and street artists, and traditional ‘Old Mastery’ type oil painters.  The two couldn’t be more opposite in many ways.  The technique, style, approach, desired outcome, target market… almost every aspect poses the two worlds against each other.  But perhaps that’s exactly why I look to both of them for my inspiration.  From the traditional oil painting worlds I take the discipline and passion for technique and detail as well as the ability to spend weeks or months on one piece until it’s absolutely just right, but if I lived only in that world all the time I would go absolutely mad.  Luckily for me, I also paint murals and am influenced by the street art world as well which is more about collaboration and working within restrictions such as time and physical limits.  When I’m working on the streets I’ve got to be much freer and more open to making adjustments on the fly.  It’s also a more physical work where I’m moving around a lot and climbing up on scaffolding or using huge machinery, versus the hours on end I sit in my studio at my easel not moving more than a few inches for an entire day.  I need both situations in my life to feel whole.

What does a cram day in the studio look like? What are you eating? How much coffee are you drinking? What are you listening to? – Did you cram to finish pieces for Scope?

Cram DAY???  more like cram month(s).  I paint slowly so I am methodical about planning things out and setting goals for finishing paintings and starting the next one.  It took me roughly 6 months to paint the 7 pieces for Scope and I was working on the last one, one-week before the show opened in Miami.  I take on average about three weeks per painting and I know if I go beyond those three weeks I’m eating into the time for the next painting so I get stressed out about every three weeks as one piece comes to an end.  In all honesty though, I’m a pretty hard worker and my studio days weather stressed or not are mostly the same.

I get in around noon after spending the morning do administrative work or going to the gym.  Then from around noon until 7 or 8 pm I’m painting solid without many brakes at all.  I try not to drink too much coffee or beer (which is extremely difficult) so i’ve switched to Yogi Tea which I’m not sure is any better and I snack on terrible cheap german snacks from the corner shop throughout the whole day, just to ensure that any work I did at the gym that morning was completely nullified.  As for what I listen to, it’s mostly NPR, and science and comedy podcasts, including the best podcast ever… VantagePoint!

What’s coming up next for you?

This year I’ll be quietly working away on a new body of work for my big solo show at Thinkspace in 2019.  I’ll also be traveling around painting murals from time to time starting off with a mural in Hawaii for Pow Wow in February followed by a few big projects I have in the works for the spring and summer.  Other than that I’ll be doing my best impersonation of a good dad and hopefully go on a family vacation for the first time in a couple years with my very supportive and patient wife.

We can’t wait to be showing more of Bullough’s work throughout the year and his solo coming in 2019!

Interview with Michael Reeder

Scope is a great way for us to close out the year, and 2017 didn’t disappoint. We want to thank everyone that came to the booth and a big round of applause to the entire staff of Scope. Also, major kudos to both James Bullough and Michael Reeder who sold out their solo shows during the fair. Below is our interview with Reeder on behalf of his mini solo at Scope.

Was this your first time at Scope? We know you couldn’t make it down due to family obligations, but anything you saw online that really spoke to you, while watching on social media out in California?

Yes, it was my first time showing at Scope, and I thank you for the opportunity! In addition to the work, I had on display at the Thinkspace booth I was stoked to have a recent commission for the National Institute of Urban Art on display as well. It’s my largest studio piece to date, and I’m glad so many people got the chance to see it in person! While watching from afar, I must say I was very impressed with the work Jonni Cheatwood had on display at Mika Gallery from Tel Aviv. Really wish I could’ve checked it all out in person!!

How has the body of work you exhibited at Scope continued to explore the ideas around identity?

I would say that the subject of identity is more of a blanket theme rather than a specific focus. Although my paintings depict figures and representational elements, they’re not specifically intended to illustrate a meaning or a theme. For me, if I set out to make work that is centered around conveying a particular idea or meaning, the work would be very different than my work that already exists. With all of that said, the works on display at Scope represented a range of themes, subjects, and concepts; emotion, gender, ascension, and the internal and external self – which all fall within the subject of identity.

I would like to add that my process from start to finish is very open. I pull from a wide range of themes and motifs that allow me to build the paintings as fluidly as possible. This opens space to create the freshest and most uncontrived image I can, all the while holding onto my “style”. So, to be completely honest, I typically don’t know what a painting is about until it’s pretty much finished. I try to approach everything with a collaborative mentality where the paint, surface, process and myself work together to invent something new. Starting out with an intended final goal not only stagnates the true creative process but also kills the adventure before the journey begins.

Who has been a major artistic influence in your life? Not influencing your style of art, but influencing your approach to art.

UK based painter Andrew Salgado has been a huge inspiration for me for quite some time. His work ethic in the studio is incredible, to say the least. He’s always creating huge, beastly yet elegant museum-quality paintings and is constantly raising the bar higher every single show. His work consistently possesses high levels of surface, color, and form and the integration of them all is masterful. Not to mention he is very humble about his success, and I look up to that quality.

What does a cram day in the studio look like? What are you eating? How much coffee are you drinking? What are you listening to? – Did you cram to finish pieces for Scope?

A cram day in the studio pretty much requires that I have everything I need to stay locked in until I’m reaching an almost unsafe level of delirium. This requires many pre-made sandwiches, snacks, water, beer, etc. – all stocked and accessible. I actually only drink coffee in the morning and I add in adaptogenic herbs to help me power through. I’ve found that drinking it in the afternoon or evening is just asking for a crash and that’s obviously the last thing I’m wanting to have happen. I’m jamming music constantly! I probably wouldn’t make art without it. I definitely listen to a wide range of music from Monolord, to The Mars Volta, Sun Kil Moon, Black Milk, Wu-Tang, MF Doom, to Godspeed You! Black Emperor etc. etc. etc.

I didn’t necessarily cram for Scope, thankfully. However, I did utilize nearly every waking hour leading up to the deadline – but I didn’t feel overly pressured. I was mainly trying to focus on cohesiveness amongst the works and that sort of adds an additional layer of complexity to the process. With that said, I’m pleased with the way it all turned out!

What’s coming up next for you?
I am finishing up some upgrades to my studio space (which is very much needed and amazing to have time for), and I’m about to get going on my Project Room solo show with you guys this coming April. I also have a rad collaborative project with Specialized Bicycles that I’ve been working on that will launch in the next few months. 2018 is packed to the brim, and I’m ready!

We look forward to showing more from Michael Reeder in the coming year, especially with his upcoming solo exhibition at Thinkspace Projects coming April 2018.

You can view all available work from him here.

 

THANK YOU FOR THE MEMORIES SCOPE 2017!

Thank you to everyone that came through our booth with SCOPE this past week in Miami during Art Basel. Was so nice to reconnect with past patrons and to meet so many new fans of our space and program.

A big round of applause goes out to the entire staff of SCOPE on another stellar year on Miami Beach. Many thanks as well to all our exhibiting artists for delivering such beautiful and meaningful works.

Kudos are due to both James Bullough and Michael Reeder who SOLD OUT their solo shows at our booth during the fair. We can not wait until our solo shows with both incredible talents here in LA in 2018/2019. More details on those two highly anticipated exhibitions shared soon.

Excited to share that we placed over 70 original works of art this past week in Miami, a great many to new patrons. A simply incredible week to say the least and we can not thank you all enough for your support.

Just wait until you see what we have in store for 2018. Have a safe and happy holiday season everyone!

– Andrew Hosner
Co-Owner / Curator