Thinkspace is pleased to present Scott Listfield’s latest exhibition, ‘The Multiverse.’ This complex show is the result of two years of feeling stuck, both physically and mentally. On the other side of a difficult period globally and personally, Listfield set out to make a show that was autobiographical in nature.
Looking back at the different lives he’s lived, people he’s known, and almost 600 paintings he’s created, Listfield was able to see his signature astronaut in a new light. Revisiting some of the earliest settings as a means to revisit the time in his life when he first created those pieces and walk in the shoes of a much younger version of himself.
The result is striking, balancing the alien with the familiar, the realistic with the fantastic. At its core, the show is about escaping—escaping as both a means of relief and self-discovery. The work is vast and varied.
Our interview with Scott Listfield for ‘The Multiverse’ discusses his artistic challenges with going bigger, what motivated him to keep painting after a hard blow to his artistic ambitions, and ice cream.
After the interview, you can view a studio tour with Scott Listfield created by Birdman photos. ‘The Multiverse’ is on view now through June 25th.
What multiverse version of Scott would you like to meet?
I can’t imagine any scenario where meeting other versions of me wouldn’t immediately require therapy. I mean, every time one of us opens their mouth the other one would be like “Oh no. Is that what I sound like??” Just one me looking at another me and both of them regretting every choice they made when dressing themselves that morning. One me saying “Remember when we were 9 and missed out on meeting He-Man because we ate Chicken McNuggets and got diarrhea?” and the other me looking pained, nodding. Oof. Imagine meeting a more successful version of yourself? I think I’d just go live in a cave after that. I’m totally fine being the only me in this universe. One of me seems plenty.
When assembling your book “Astronaut” were you already bookmarking the works that you wanted to revisit for this exhibition? What was your process like for developing this exhibition?
Well, my book came out over 3 years ago now, so offhand, I’d say no, I certainly hadn’t conceived the idea for this show yet back then. But that might have started a longer-term process where instead of feeling slightly embarrassed about my earliest work, I began to see them as vital stepping stones toward the artist I am now. And thinking about the entire history of my work, and what that means to me, as I continue to paint more and more of these things. So maybe that was the very beginning of the process that landed me here, now, painting contemporary interpretations of some of my very first astronaut paintings.
As for my process? Well, the first step was to live through two years of an on-again, off-again, but mostly on-again global pandemic where you don’t leave the house much and time ceases to have any meaning. Step two is to have some weird f*cked up dreams. The kind where long-dead friends stop by, you take meandering walks in places you haven’t been in twenty years, some guy from high school you barely knew, even back then, shows up and gets Nickelodeon slimed for some reason. Those kinds of dreams. Increasingly your weird time-traveling dream world feels more tangible than the actual real world, and the two start to meld. As this was all going on, a third close friend of mine, Jason Chase, passed away last fall, right as I was starting to work on this show. 20 years ago, I lost my friend Chris Ostoj. 10 years ago, my friend Wes. I felt tossed back into a closed-loop, living the same parts of my life in different places and times. Then I made 23 paintings about it. So, I guess that was my process in a nutshell.
You’ve been sharing a lot of anecdotes from your life along with various pieces that will be touched upon in “The Multiverse” – do you journal or practice any additional record keeping of your life story, or are the pieces the memory triggers?
I guess my paintings are my journals? I don’t really need to write it all down because it’s there in each painting. I’ve done almost 600 of them now, and you’d think I wouldn’t remember much about most of them, but many of them, especially the early ones, are locked into an archive in my mind along with whatever was going on in my life at the time I painted them. They are, in a very literal way, the story of my life. Up until now, these paintings have been only obliquely about me, though. I would place the astronaut alongside bits and pieces of assorted pop culture, along with other mostly recognizable elements, to tell a story. This is the first time I’m using bits and pieces of my own life, and my own old paintings, in the way I’d normally use a pop culture reference. And so the stories I’m telling in this show are a lot more personal. Which makes them easier to remember, I guess.Continue reading Interview with Scott Listfield for his exhibition ‘The Multiverse’ showing at Thinkspace Projects June 4 – June 25