Virtual Tour through Boris Anje, Oscar Joyo, Stephanie Buer, and Jimbo Lateef Exhibitions

Thinkspace presents a virtual tour through Boris Anje’s ‘Black is the Color of Gold’, Oscar Joyo’s ‘HOME_BODY’, Stephanie Buer’s ‘Hiraeth’, and Jimbo Lateef’s ‘Shades of Feelings’ exhibitions now on view through December 4th. 

Click here for the virtual tour: https://players.cupix.com/p/rnk5zi2U

Tour developed by Birdman

Interview with Oscar Joyo for ‘HOME_BODY’

Thinkspace Projects is proud to present Oscar Joyo’s debut west coast solo show ‘HOME_BODY’.

Joyo is becoming well known for his expressive portraiture that features his unique combination of photo realism and tribal patterning rendered in bright neons, coated in layers of thick, clear resin. His process-driven practice fuses together traditional and digital mediums to explore imagery and themes connected to afrofuturism and afrosurrealism, all imbued with a spiritual psychedlia.

In anticipation of ‘HOME_BODY’, our interview with Oscar Joyo discusses how chromesthesia influences his artistic voice, NFTs, and his exploration of self-love.

For those not familiar with your work, can you tell us a little bit about your background? How did you come to be introduced to Thinkspace?

I’m a Malawian born, Chicago based artist. I grew into my love for art through anime and video games that I was exposed to growing up in Malawi and South Africa. After I moved to Indiana and then Chicago for college, inspiration from all sorts of media felt like an endless well.

I’m currently exploring my African heritage and Blackness through art using patterned work that pays homage to my upbringing with vibrant and expressive portraiture. It started with digital painting but has since evolved into acrylic and resin mediums.

I’ve been a fan of Thinkspace since my time at the American Academy of Art, and seeing a lot of my favourite artists featured made me want to pursue being a part of the space myself. I was introduced formally after my first solo show, NYASA with Line Dot in 2020 and the rest was history. (My 19-year-old self has to be screaming with joy right now.)

What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? What themes were you exploring?

I’ve always felt like my work has been driven by various perspectives: as an immigrant, American, black man, African, futurist; however, with this body of work I want to access those channels of thought while prioritizing one major perspective- my own.  I’ve just begun to feel at home with myself and my body of work.

(If I want to successfully pay tribute to where I’m from, I need to appreciate who I am and where I’m going.)

Another inspiration came through with personal realizations, shortcomings, and the need to work through these issues through art. It may sound cheesy but it made me a stronger artist and knowing what I desire to do next.

I stuck with specific colours that dominate the body of work like green for (growth and creativity), yellow (to confront an insecurity), and pink (for myself- it’s my favourite colour!)

The titles of the pieces share a lot of what themes HOME_BODY explores.  Pieces like “RETREAT!” and “overgrown” delve into the pros and cons of being in your comfort zone.

What was the most challenging piece in this exhibition? How did it help you grow as an artist?

I’d say the title piece would be my most challenging. I’m personally not too crazy about doing self-portraits, and since I have a very weird relationship with myself, it was hard to bring myself to do it. I had a different idea for the title piece, but after talking with my partner and friends, they opposed doing anything OTHER than a self-portrait to drive the theme home.

Doing that piece really got me to look at myself in the present time and notice what I need to do to take better care. I always try to look for the beauty of Blackness in my muses, but I should always remember to also look at myself.

What does a day in the studio look like for you? How do you structure your days?

It ebbs and flows but at the moment, I stretch a bit and make myself some tea since I know I will be painting for hours on end. I take a break halfway in for lunch or dinner and some recreational activity then back to it until the end of the day or night (mostly night.)

I structure my day mostly on what I should accomplish for the day, which is just getting to the studio and working on something.

How has having chromesthesia influenced your approach to your work? Have you ever created playlists around bodies of work?

Chromesthesia or sound to colour synesthesia helps me create a song that can only be painted. I’ve always liked the old adage that music paints pictures so I thought why not do it in reverse. The colours from the tones and keys of instruments to the patterns that are manifested through different time signatures or even percussive movements are things I zero in on when painting.

I actively make playlists and especially for my bodies of work!  I think of each of them as a “sonic diary” that helps shape my pieces to their final form.  I started doing it last year for my first show, and when I saw Bisa and Johnny Butler curate a playlist for Bisa’s exhibit at the Art Institute, it made me really think about what I want to invoke or say with the songs I chose.

Having a soundtrack to my work has become an important part of my process.

Listen to Oscar Joyo’s playlist for HOME_BODY on Spotify

Who are some of your creative influences?

I’ve always been drawn to artists like Keith Haring, Kehinde Wiley, and Akira Toriyama but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been exposed to James Jean, Bisa Butler, Kara Walker, Nyame Brown and David Choe. I’m forever inspired by my fellow Chicago artists and the scene that nurtured me into the artist I am today. (I would need a google doc to name them all.)

I also take huge inspiration from musicians as well since they know how to paint a vibe or mood like Kanye West, Childish Gambino, JPEGMAFIA, Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Three Trapped Tigers, keiyaA, Injury Reserve, Ibibio Sound Machine and Janet Jackson. (Need a google doc for all the musicians I’m inspired by as well.)

In an interview with Create Magazine, you expressed in college you were into doing “glitch art,” with an openness to art within digital mediums, have you been following the NFT space? What are your thoughts about its place in the art world moving forward, and have you created NFTs (or planning to)?

(Laughs) I knew this was coming and I’ve been keeping a close eye on the world of NFTs and crypto art as well as the debate from both pro and anti NFTs. It made the most sense and it’s inevitable that the art world’s next step was to create a network through the block chain.

When I did glitch art back in college, I wanted to bridge the gap between digital and traditional so I’m glad that there’s at least some fusing the traditional art world with the blockchain. There’s of course many ways to do so without going down the NFT route too.

My favourite thing coming from that is seeing mostly traditional artists incorporating digital elements into their work.  Digital artist Matteo Santoro is collaborating with (mainly known) traditional artists Miles Johnston and Soey Milk. I love seeing that sense of boundary-pushing.

I’m not sure on making NFTs at the moment but maybe down the line once things are a bit more secure.

What is your most favourite and least favourite part of the creative process?

My most AND least favourite part is definitely the conceptual aspect of creating because you’re finding ways to make the idea a tangible piece of work.  I love the challenge, but that same challenge can be overwhelming.  I always like conjuring up different variants of the same idea because there can definitely be more than one way to the pieces. It does become a headache because you end up being paralyzed by not living up to that idea or you have too many to choose from.

If you could have any skill or topic downloaded into your brain, what would you want to be able to do/ be an expert at?

To be honest, I’d like to be an expert at time management.  It’s been a long time since I’ve prioritized things like my mental health, relationships, special interests.  I want to able to balance my work life and personal life in a healthy and efficient way.

If you could throw a dinner party for five people dead or alive, who would be on the guest list? What would be on the menu? What would be the ice breaker question?

Wow, that’s a tough question but at the moment, it would be:

Keith Haring

Kerry James Marshall

Octavia Butler

Flying Lotus/Thundercat (they will always be a 2 for 1 to me.)

Araki Hirohiko

I’ve always had a love for how my culture mixes different kinds of food, so it’ll definitely be a mixture of Malawian and Mediterranean. Foods like samosa, mandizi, beef or veggie stew, shawarma, hummus, etc.

As far as ice breakers, I’ve always liked asking people about the weather since it’s simple enough for people to rant or rave about.

 Although, I’ve wanted to ask what other form of creating would you want to pursue if you could?

Opening Reception of Boris Anje, Oscar Joyo, Stephanie Buer, and Jimbo Lateef Exhibitions | November 13 – December 4 at Thinkspace Projects

Thank you to all those who joined us for the opening reception of Boris Anje’s ‘Black is the Color of Gold’, Oscar Joyo’s ‘HOME_BODY’, Stephanie Buer’s ‘Hiraeth’, and Jimbo Lateef’s ‘Shades of Feelings’ on view now through December 4th.

Continue reading Opening Reception of Boris Anje, Oscar Joyo, Stephanie Buer, and Jimbo Lateef Exhibitions | November 13 – December 4 at Thinkspace Projects

Photo Tour of Boris Anje, Oscar Joyo, Stephanie Buer, and Jimbo Lateef Exhibitions | November 13 – December 4 at Thinkspace Projects

Thinkspace presents a photo tour through Boris Anje’s ‘Black is the Color of Gold’, Oscar Joyo’s ‘HOME_BODY’, Stephanie Buer’s ‘Hiraeth’, and Jimbo Lateef’s ‘Shades of Feelings’ exhibitions now on view through December 4th.

Continue reading Photo Tour of Boris Anje, Oscar Joyo, Stephanie Buer, and Jimbo Lateef Exhibitions | November 13 – December 4 at Thinkspace Projects

Interview with Boris Anje for ‘Black Is the Color of Gold’ | Exhibition on view November 13 – December 4 at Thinkspace Projects

Thinkspace Projects presents Boris Anje’s (aka Anjel) latest body of work and U.S. solo debut, ‘Black is the Color of Gold.’ Featuring an entirely new collection of his vivid neo-pop portraits of contemporary African dandies, this exhibition is wildly engaging.

By placing his subjects against contrasting heavily logoed backgrounds, Anje reveals their sartorial elegance and pride, while drawing attention to the pervasive influence of consumer culture. His work toes the line between societal issues including race, identity, and consumerism. Paying special attention to depicting compelling portraiture from different generations, Anje’s work creates an unspoken dialogue between the subject and viewer.

In anticipation of ‘Black is the Color of Gold’ our interview with Boris Anje explores his creative process and talks about the artistic voices who helped inspire his own development.

For those not familiar with your work, can you tell us a little bit about your background? How did you come to be introduced to Thinkspace?

I was born in Bamenda, a city in the North West region of Cameroon. I started art at a very tender age, getting my first art classes from my cousin NJOMKE Samuel. After a professional master’s degree in drawing and painting in 2018, from the institute of fine arts in Foumban I decided to engage full-time in my artistic practice. I live and work in Douala, the economic capital of Cameroon.

I got introduced to Thinkspace through the bias of social media, Instagram.

What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? What themes were you exploring?

The inspiration behind this body of work exhales from my encounter with people. Discussions I had with fellow artists during studio visits, all centered around similar topics I’m working on now like, identity policies, race, the consumerist society and self-esteem.

What was the most challenging piece in this exhibition? How did it help you grow as an artist?

The most challenging piece in this series was ‘Black is the Colour of Gold’, it was challenging because it appears to be the most finite representation of the different topics I have developed so far. It has helped me grow because I later realized how essential and subtle a creative process could be.

Do you have any rituals that help you tap into a creative flow?

My everyday ritual is listening to good music, it feels good to paint and be accompanied with some lyrical sonic poetry. Music that feeds the soul like Jacob Banks, Marvin Gaye, John Legend…..and a prayer of belief.

What does a day in the studio look like for you? How do you structure your days?

It’s always a pleasure getting to see my creations. I start work at 9 am to close by 6 pm, all depending on the feeling and energy of the day. I get to structure this so because my workshop is at home and without discipline and consistency nothing big could be accomplished. It starts with a prayer of commitment accompanied with some sweet music, to nourish and feed my soul. Throughout the day is painting, and a break time by 1 pm.

What is your most favorite and least favorite part of the creative process?

My favorite moment in the creative process is the making of — that is the process that involves colour mixture, setting values, getting to enjoy the gaze and entering the soul of a subject you haven’t met before.

My least favorite part is the very beginning, the thinking process. Mind mapping always get me tired.

Who has been some of your creative influences? Artistic voices that inspired you to develop your style and technique?

Creatives like Kehinde Wiley, Kerry J Marshall, Tim Okamura, and Amy Sherald have been of great influence to my creative process. The artist statement they attach to their portraiture had me going. Dario Calmese, Wole Soyinka, Michael Feugain and many others are critical thinkers that help me

If you could have any skill or topic downloaded into your brain, what would you want to be able to do/ be an expert at?

Managing the human condition as a topic and singing as a skill.

What does the perfect day in the Douala look like? Where would we go and what would we eat?

Beautiful days in Douala are characterized by sunny and hot climate, a visit to the coastal seashores of Youpwe where you are served fresh fish, a plate of eru, or ndole and miyondor a lot of varieties to savour.

Do you have a piece of clothing that has acted like armor in your own life? An outfit that changes your stride?

I have this white shirt, whenever I have it on I feel like I can fly, with a pair of denim jeans it feels good to, casual and simple. Aside from this combination, there is nothing else.

If you could throw a dinner party for five people dead or alive, who would be on the guest list? What would be on the menu? What would be the ice breaker question?

My wife, my mum, my kid brother, my best friend and my grandmother (Dead), we will have as dinner a hot pot of fufu and eru accompanied with freshly tapped palme wine.

‘Black is the Color of Gold’ will be on view from November 13, 2021 – December 4, 2021

Opening Reception with the Artist(s):
Saturday, November 13, 2021
6:00-9:00pm