“DUO” Interview with Telmo Miel

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Telmo Miel are muralist and image-making duo from the Netherlands, Telmo Miel is Telmo Pieper and Miel Krutzmann. They have worked together since meeting at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam in 2007, officially becoming Telmo Miel in 2012. Their murals are both surreal and realistically rendered, with a tremendous amount of detail and vibrant color. Able to work fairly seamlessly, their styles have combined to such an extent that they’re able to execute multiple areas in tandem, exchanging places and completing each other’s work. They often execute their pieces on a monumental scale, creating huge architecturally sized spray-paint paintings on building façades. Combining multiple elements in a single composition, they layer references to the human and animal worlds to create complex creatures and fantastic scenarios. With positivity, humor and a touch of the romantic, their work is arresting and epic.

Thinkspace Gallery in collaboration with Berlin’s Urban Nation, is pleased to present DUO, a group exhibition featuring works by internationally acclaimed contemporary art duos. The following is an exclusive Sour Harvest interview with duo, Telmo Miel. 

How did you two first meet and decide to collaborate together?
We met each other on the first day of the academy in Rotterdam in 2006. Both being kind of quiet guys, we found each other quite fast and got to talking about art and painting. I (Miel) was painting graffiti for a couple of years before the academy and suggested Telmo to paint a wall together to see if it would work. We painted a first collaborative mural in Amersfoort (Holland) and from that point forward we started working together on almost every wall, growing more in tune with each other each passing year.

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What inspires you or where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in fighting the idea of being alive without a certain purpose. If I don’t paint, I don’t feel like I’m alive. Painting makes the mind escape into process and gives it the opportunity to evolve. Without practice nothing evolves, so the need to paint never stops.

Thematically we choose to work with subjects like children, who represent a certain innocence and playful view on their new world; which is also something we as painters we try to maintain in creating.

But we never stick to just one subject or theme, as we find beauty in almost every aspect of the world, within reality and the surreal.

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How do you two work through conflict when creating a cohesive vision?
Exactly like that, we work through it. Working in duo form only functions if the egos aren’t too big and if you can explain your personal vision well enough to the other artist/partner. I think Telmo and myself have that aspect almost down to perfection. We can have big discussions on why something works or doesn’t, why something is good or isn’t. But in the end, it’s about making a choice at that moment in time, believing in that choice and both being happy with that choice. If it doesn’t work in the end, there’s always the next one.

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What is your process for collaborating, does one artist do xyz and the other abc? Please elaborate.
We are both able to work on every part of every piece. On murals we will switch places a bunch of times and then switch back if we want to. We’ve been working together almost 10 years now and our styles and technique have come together a lot. Though this doesn’t take away from the fact that we still have our own flavor and opinion. We have room for that freedom of thinking and developed a multi-layered style that allows us to work together on one piece, but still are able to put in our own individual vision in one of the two layers that makes up our final piece. Sometimes we use this in the form that I explained, sometimes we use it to our individual advantage in painting canvases. As a lot of the canvases we do are individual pieces.

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Do you remember your first wall? Or have a good story to share from when you were doing a mural together…
The first wall was the one in Amersfoort I spoke of before. We went to the free wall spot near the tracks and started on a grey/red graffiti wall with characters and styles. It was a great first test and a lot of fun. But a good story… ehhh Telmo?

A wall that we will never forget for sure is the one we did in Loose Creek, Missouri for the Robertson’s Family. Most walls we did were in cities, but we ended up painting a barn in the middle of nowhere. A great quiet scenery with the smell of wet grass and turkey poop.

Painting a mural was a bizarre thing to do there, so everybody had to come by and have a peek. After a few days we met them all; cops, pastor, local newspapers, school kids, teachers, neighbours, the family of the neighbours. And don’t forget the Robertson’s with just 14 grandchildren!

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If you could live in a movie for a day, what would it be? Would you be yourself or a specific character? 
Miel: I would be a zookeeper at Jurassic Park for sure, can’t say otherwise.
Telmo: STAR WARS for sure! I still would be doing murals in the streets but in a galaxy far, far away…

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Anything else you would like to share? Next big project?
We’ve got a couple of things on schedule, like painting a whole subway station in Norway in April. Some very cool mural festivals in Ukraine, France and one really nice wall in Portugal that we will paint with our friend and graffiti artist Pariz. Besides the murals we’ll be spending a bunch of time in the studio working on new paintings and concepts for upcoming exhibitions.

Telmo Miel Studio WIP

View new works from the duo Telmo Miel during our opening reception for “DUO” Saturday, February 27th from 6 -9 pm. For additional information on the exhibit please visit Thinkspace Gallery’s website; if you’d like to receive a preview of the show make sure to sign up for the Thinkspace Gallery mailing list.

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Next up in our Main Room – ‘Duo’, a group exhibition presented in collaboration with Urban Nation

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Thinkspace Gallery in collaboration with Berlin’s Urban Nation, is pleased to present DUO, a group exhibition featuring works by internationally acclaimed contemporary art duos: Best/Ever, Cyrcle, Jana & JS, Nevercrew, Snik, Telmo Miel, and Yok & Sheryo. These monikers are recognized the world over as belonging to some of the very best Muralists in the contemporary art scene. Each namesake represents a pair working collaboratively to create inspired, site-specific works across a variety of styles and techniques. The artists will be represented in DUO by two to four new works each, and the exhibition will also feature a site- specific gallery installation and mural by Brooklyn’s Yok & Sheryo.

Best/Ever
A duo hailing from Dorset England, Best/Ever is Neil Edwards and Hadley Newman. Their mural style combines elements of photorealistic painting, anatomical drawing, and loose painterly improvisation. Known for its darker and more disturbing portrayals of the human form, their work pairs anatomy with decisive graphic lines and abstracted areas. They often combine figurative and representational elements to create surreal composites; bodies and bones overlap and faces seem to merge. With an emphasis on hands and face, their work strives to capture the emotive and expressive potential of the body in a variety of psychological states, dissecting it formally to an almost surgical extent. Using a stark palette of muted grays, ashen whites, and dark contrasts, their evocative works are ghostly and at times melancholic.

Cyrcle
Cyrcle is an LA-based duo made up of David Leavitt (Davey Detail) and David Torres (Rabi). Their collaboration is driven by an irreverent and inexhaustible injunction to tirelessly live and breathe art, in defiance of death and above all else. With an interest in the exploration of the human condition, its duality, and the entropy and chaos that inevitably inform creativity, their projects are varied and at times interactive. They strive to avoid reductive categorization, and work across a variety of media and creative platforms. They have created site-specific murals and street installations, like their huge 11,000 square foot mural “Magic is Real” in Echo Park, but they also take their work to the gallery space, creating installation, performance, and object based projects. Their aesthetic encompasses graphic design, art history, classics and futurism to blur the proscriptive lines of what art can be.

Jana & JS
A duo working out of Austria, Jana is from Salzburg, and JS is from France, near Paris. A couple, their work is stencil based, incredibly precise, and inspired primarily by their personal photographic work. Interested in combining the figurative with architecture, their outdoor pieces are primarily found in major European urban centers and tend to vary in scale. They work with a variety of media to create detailed stencils, using acrylic, ink, pencil, and spray paint on architecture, wood, glass, metal, canvas or paper. Creating these interventions in a variety of contexts, they have been known to use everything from trees in forests and railway tracks, to all manner of found materials. Often portraying people in pairs, their work is about intimacy and human connection, capturing a sense of vulnerability in the passing of time.

Nevercrew
Nevercrew is Christian Rebecchi and Pablo Togni, Swiss artists based in Ticino, Switzerland. Interested in the tension and back and forth of being a collaborative duo, tangential relationships are very much a part of their aesthetic and process. Interested in systems and the inner working of living things, they create pseudo “machines” or “living structures,” to explore the systemic and conceptual interactions among individual parts. The works combine fantastic pairings of realistic animals and fictional mechanical systems to create a surreal universe of weirdly bionic hybrids. At the heart of these colorful, large scale murals is a concern for the increasingly tenuous relationship between man and nature. Mixing realistic painting styles with stencils and phenomenal graphics, their works, though seemingly playful, are thought provoking metaphors for social and political relationships.

Snik
Britain’s Snik is couple Nick and Laura. Nick began working as Snik in 2005, later pairing up with Laura at the end of 2014. Working in stencil and spray paint, the duo is constantly pushing the boundaries of their medium. Snik will hand cut up to nine layers of stencil at a time, creating the depth and realism for which their work is known, with several overlays and applications of paint and varnish. The level of detail in their work is impressive, and the painterly approach of their technique is unique in its texture and dimensionality. By combining the precision of the graphic stencil cuts with the more chaotic and free application of paint, their works balance chaos with control. The same aesthetic applies to their work on canvas, where they offset the accidental aspects of studio work with drips, bleeds and smudges, with the precision of graphic stenciling.

Telmo Miel
A muralist and image-making duo from the Netherlands, Telmo Miel is Telmo Pieper and Miel Krutzmann. They have worked together since meeting at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam in 2007, officially becoming Telmo Miel in 2012. Their murals are both surreal and realistically rendered, with a tremendous amount of detail and vibrant color. Able to work fairly seamlessly, their styles have combined to such an extent that they’re able to execute multiple areas in tandem, exchanging places and completing each other’s work. They often execute their pieces on a monumental scale, creating huge architecturally sized spray-paint paintings on building façades. Combining multiple elements in a single composition, they layer references to the human and animal worlds to create complex creatures and fantastic scenarios. With positivity, humor and a touch of the romantic, their work is arresting and epic.

Yok & Sheryo
Yok, Australian born, and Sheryo, from Singapore, are a muralist duo and couple based in Brooklyn, New York. They first started painting walls together in Cambodia, where they realized the aesthetic and personal affinity they shared. Known for their twisted, dynamic illustrative style, and their use of stark primary palettes, they often work in red, white and black tricolor. Their hallucinatory murals feature everything from cannibalistic pizza slices to pineapple people and hot dog characters, incorporating the monstrous to the macabre with ample humor and absurdity. Eastern influences and kitschy references to surf and skate culture often appear in the work, and both artists cite 90’s cartoons like Ren & Stimpy as major graphic influences. With a love of gnarly subversive imagery, from grim reapers to deadly piña coladas, their line work is detailed, complex, and a total trip.

Opening Reception with the Artist(s):
Saturday, February 27, 2016
6:00 – 9:00pm