Interview With Abi Castillo for ‘Allergic Party’ | Exhibition on view January 7 – January 28, 2023

Thinkspace is pleased to presentAllergic Party showcasing 30 incredible new ceramic works from Spanish artist Abi Castillo in her debut North American solo exhibition.

Discovering ceramics introduced Abi to a world of aesthetic and creative possibilities that allow the artist to give shape to her creatures and characters. The ambivalence between mysticism and drama, between monstrosity and beauty, are themes all very present in Abi’s personal project.

Our interview with Abi Castillo discusses her journey with ceramics, love of nature, and her latest shift to her creative practice.

For those that are not familiar with you and your work, can you give us a brief look at your artistic background? How did you first hear of Thinkspace?

I graduated in Fine Arts and specialized in ceramic art. I have been working as an illustrator since 2010, and now I combine that work with ceramic sculpture in my workshop. I have exhibited my work in different galleries in Spain and Portugal, and I am very happy to have arrived in the United States.

I’ve been following Thinkspace on social media for a long time because I think they are a reference in the art scene, always showing the work of new and different contemporary artists.

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

For this exhibition, I was inspired by my allergy to pollen and dust mites and how tedious it is to live with these symptoms. I decided to give it a touch of humor by making a party, a gathering of snot and fluids with characters that give off sympathy. In this exhibition, I have tried to make my characters more expressive to generate in the viewer a mixture of laughter and tenderness.

“Queen of the Party”

You’ve gilded bodily fluids representative of tears and mucous in this exhibition, making what we are sometimes embarrassed by beautiful. Do you have any allergies? Do you consider yourself one who easily cries?

As I said, I have allergies to pollen and dust mites, and I have learned to live with it. We should not be ashamed of a natural reaction to an allergen that we cannot control. It is really uncomfortable, and my nose is red during the spring, just like my characters’ noses. I consider myself a very sensitive person, and I don’t mind showing my feelings. My sculptures bear witness to this, and in them, I channel many of the good and bad moments.

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

The most difficult work to make has been ¨Choromicas¨ which means in my mother tongue, Galician, a person who cries a lot. If ceramics has taught me anything, it is to work on my patience. Ceramics is a slow process, where drying times must be respected in order to keep adding heights and not crumble.

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

My workshop is surrounded by a forest, and that’s where I find my connection with nature and where I get ideas to flow better. My ritual is based on spending many hours in the workshop, sometimes sketching and sometimes sitting at the pottery wheel trying to improve the technique, but having nature so close is what helps me to create.


What excites you about your work / creative process? What frustrates you about your work/ creative process?

What I love most about ceramics is the freedom and that I feel I can bring my characters to life. I can make a sketch and create a shape with volume that will become a new friend.

What frustrates me the most is that I can’t control all the phases of creating my pieces, and sometimes you think you are doing it right, and the pieces explode in the kiln, or the glaze formulas don’t come out right, and there is no turning back. During these years, I have also learned to take these cracks and failures as part of my learning and as something that could make the pieces unique and special in seeing the beauty of imperfection.

You gave birth in July; what has maternity leave looked like for you? What did your studio days look like before having a baby, and how are they evolving now to accommodate your latest creation?

My maternity leave has helped me to get to know myself better and to organize a lot of ideas about my work. Motherhood is a great moment in life that is worth enjoying. Being a mother has changed everything, and I have had to change some things in my work. Before becoming a mother, there were no schedules, and I could spend all night working without a break, but now I have to organize my time to enjoy my daughter and continue creating.

I also recognize that being a mother brings a new inspiration to my work.

Who are some of your creative influences?

There are many currents that have inspired and influenced me throughout my career.

And I think I’m still constantly learning. My main influences come from lowbrow and pop surrealism. Artists like Mark Ryden or Marion Peck or Peca have always fascinated me for details and that intense inner world.

In ceramics, I love Eun-Ha Paek and Joakim Ojanen because their characters intrigue me and make me unable to stop looking at them.


What are your favorite things to do outside of the studio?

I love to knit. Every week I get together with a group of women to continue learning how to make sweaters and scarves. It’s a great exercise for exercising the memory and for meditation. I also enjoy going for walks with my daughter, going to concerts, and traveling.

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?

Many things! I would love to be a virtuoso and play a musical instrument, know how to cook like great chefs or control all kinds of artistic techniques to perfection so as not to have limits.

What is clear to me is that I would love to learn everything related to art in all its forms.

Photo by Birdman

Exhibitions on view January 7 – January 28, 2023

Interview With Michael Polakowski for ‘Anywhere & Here’| Exhibition on view January 7 – January 28, 2023

Thinkspace is excited to present Detroit-based artist Michael Polakowski‘s solo exhibition “Anywhere & Here” in Gallery III.

Anywhere & Here’ presents a series of paintings that depict a shifting cast of protagonists. Each character is shown grappling with the reality of the here and now while dreaming of the potential of anywhere.

Our interview with Michael Polakowski shares valuable advice he’s received on approaching his work, the act of being present to inform his artistic voice, and the essential practice of running.

Can you share a little about your background and how you first heard of Thinkspace? 

I grew up in Dearborn, Michigan, a small suburb of Detroit in the Midwestern United States. Not exactly an art hub by any means, but I always gravitated toward art and especially graffiti and skateboarding art. The work from the New Contemporary movement found its way to me through magazines and art blogs from LA, and Thinkspace was one of my early exposures to the art world that was out there. In a way, this show has been an amazing opportunity for me to connect with the art movement that ignited my relationship with art while paying homage to my home.

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

This body of work is about balancing forward progression and ambition with presence in one’s life. It’s about the individual parts that make the whole picture. That relationship between being present and engaged in your daily life while working towards a larger understanding of happiness or clarity is the central theme to this body of work. Creating this work was a balancing act for me, and the resulting body of work is about that process. Whether it is a painting that comes about through a conversation with a close friend or a realization that occurs in the middle of the night and is scrawled down on a sketchbook at the side of my bed, this body of work was about being engaged in the act of creating while not allowing myself to be overcome by it.

When you are triggered to chase escape, how do you bring yourself to acceptance?

I’ve grown to realize that some things just need time to work themselves out and that I have little ability to affect that. That acceptance of what I can’t control is initially defeating, but arriving at acceptance can open up new opportunities. Because of this, I like to schedule a break for myself in the middle of the day to run. This resets my brain and is almost like giving into the “fight or flight” response that anxiety can often bring about.

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

The two pieces “Anywhere (Doorway)” and “Here (Doorway)” were among the most difficult in the series. They both feature a scene that has almost been “copy and pasted” onto itself, so in a way, it was like painting each piece three times to get the desired effect. Working on these paintings felt like I was doing workout repetitions to strengthen my painting ability.

“Anywhere (Doorway)”
“Here (Doorway)”

Do you have any rituals that help you tap into a creative flow? What does a day in the studio look like for you? 

With art, I find that there are times for fluidity and times for rigidity. As a painter, I needed to find the “non-negotiable” parts of my practice, like working 5 days a week for 8 hours a day but allowing myself to arrive at that goal in a variety of ways. Some pieces for the show I made over the course of a week or two, working entirely at night, while other pieces I made in a more traditional nine-to-five workday. No matter when I make it to my studio, however, I always dive into a deep level of focus that feels very cathartic and calming. I’ll usually take a break to eat and exercise (running has become the main way that I decompress), then head back to my studio and finish up for the day.

What excites you about your work / creative process? What frustrates you about your work/ creative process?

The act of painting is a very centering and engaging process. The detail and precision in my work mean there is no way to split my focus or do something partway. This can be great because it requires me to push everything aside but also can be frustrating when it just isn’t working out. My process for ideation also means that I am always engaged with my practice. I want my work to be a reflection of my life, not the entirety of it. By making my work about being observant of my surroundings and immersed in it.

When I started my career, I often fell into the trope of the “all-consumed” artist who never rested and gave everything to their practice. It wasn’t until I received advice from a more experienced artist that my goal should be to have a long career and evolve over a fifty-year career instead of working unsustainably for five years and then burning out. I took this advice to heart, and it shifted everything for me. First and foremost, my goal became about being an engaged and present individual, and the rest would follow. For the first time, I was able to think about what kind of artist I could evolve into, and that is the most exciting part for me.

“The Left Hand Doesn’t Know…”
“…What the Right Hand is Doing”

Who are some of your creative influences?

I like to find inspiration for my work in other creative practices like film, literature, and music. Whenever I read a book or see a movie that sticks with me, I ask myself, “how could a painting create the same emotional response?” I’m a huge fan of Alejandro Jodorowsky and recently saw his film The Holy Mountain, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. As far as other painters go, I am a fan of the Chicago Imagist movement from the 1960s. Artists from that movement, like Roger Brown and Christina Ramberg, were able to interpret surrealism in such a personal way that reflected their experiences living in Chicago and the Midwest, and this authenticity to one’s own narrative has been a major influence on me.

The novels Franz Kafka’s “The Castle” and Dino Buzzati’s “The Tartar Steppe.” inspired the direction of “Anywhere & Here.” What are three books you think everyone should read and why?  

Those two novels are a great start for anyone interested in absurdity and are two of my personal favorites. Both books feature protagonists who are completely immersed in what they see as their “life’s struggle” and suffer because they are ultimately unable to put separation between themselves and the systems they are a part of. A third book I would recommend is Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. This book is almost an antidote to the way of thinking that is pervasive in the previous books I mentioned. Murakami has had such a prolific output as an author, and this book details how the act of running has supported that process. My work is very physically demanding, and I don’t think I would have been able to stick with it had I not found this book.

What is your favorite thing to do outside of the studio? 

One of my favorite things to do while I’m not painting is trail running, and the long winding roads that are seen in my paintings come from that. There is something very meditative about running towards a distant point at the end of a trail. You know that the end is coming because all things end eventually, but when you are in the middle of a run, it seems infinitely far away. Another hobby I’ve been drawn to is playing billiards, which is also featured heavily within my work. Playing 8-ball pool feels strangely like painting at times: you go into each game with a plan but must adapt and respond to the way it plays out.

What is one of the most memorable meals of your life thus far? It could be the food or the company that made it have a lasting impression.

My girlfriend and I recently traveled to Chihuahua, Mexico, for the wedding of two of my studio mates and longtime friends. During the trip, we stayed with them at a cabin in Santa Eulalia that was in the mountains. During the dinner, we all had sketchbooks out and were drawing in between games of dominoes and conversation. This meal stands out to me because it was one of the first times I drew the mountains, that are a central theme within my work. That meal was an instance where my artistic practice made me more present in my life and observant of my surroundings; the work that comes from these moments is always the most authentic and satisfying to me.  

Exhibitions on view January 7 – January 28, 2023

Photos by Birdman.

Interview with Shinnosuke Hariya for “Power Up” | Exhibition on view January 7 – January 28, 2023

Thinkspace is excited to present Shinnosuke Hariya‘s solo exhibition “Power Up” in Gallery II.

‘Power Up’ presents a new series of 14 graphite works on illustration board from the Japanese drawing monster Shinnosuke Hariya and is the artist’s debut North American solo exhibition.

Our interview with Shinnosuke Hariya reveals his preferred pencils, dives into god-like figures of creative influence, and the other skills he’d wish to explore but will hold off for now.

For those that are not familiar with you and your work, can you give us a brief look at your artistic background? How did you first hear of Thinkspace? 

I’m a graphite artist born in Tokyo, Japan. I combine street and Japanese cultures in my work.

I have loved drawing since I was a child. I studied graphic design in art college but found that I liked drawing more than designing, so I became an artist rather than a designer. I held my first solo exhibition in 2017 after graduating from art college. Since then, I have held solo exhibitions and participated in group exhibitions in Japan and abroad.

I first became aware of Thinkspace through Instagram while browsing through the posts of international galleries. Thinkspace attracted me because of the many cool artists exhibiting there.

When Super A had his solo show at Thinkspace in December 2020, I sent a reaction to the Stories that Thinkspace had posted. Then I received a message from Thinkspace inviting me to exhibit at Gallery II, which made me very happy.

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

I decided to create this exhibit on the theme of robotic characters because I came up with the idea that graphite and metallic qualities go well together.

Since this exhibition was to be held in the U.S., I drew not only Japanese characters but also many popular American characters that I like.

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

The piece I painted thoughtfully is the reflective texture of “Thief Robo” and “Modified Police Wolf.” I attempted to draw different textures of metal in this exhibition.

I developed an image of each motif in my mind, and I tried to imagine how they were covered with scratches from fighting, how they were deteriorated and battered, and how they looked like new and clean.

If people who see my work can relate to the expression of these textures, I believe I have grown.

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

There is no specific time of day when I draw my work. However, I tend to draw in the evening through the morning and sleep in the morning and afternoon.

“Thief Robo”

Do you have any rituals that help you tap into a creative flow? Do you have a favorite brand of graphite?

I am not particular about the brand of pencils I use for my work, but I use Mitsubishi and Staedtler pencils because they were the first pencils I used when I started drawing.

What excites you about your work / creative process? What frustrates you about your work/ creative process?

I generally do not draw rough sketches when I start creating a work of art. Sometimes I do, though. So when I get an idea and start drawing it, I get excited. I feel that the moment when the work is nearing completion is similar to the feeling I get when I finish watching a favorite movie or comic book. I feel like there is a sense of accomplishment and a kind of sadness that the work is finished.

I am a little frustrated that I have to take breaks from drawing when I have to keep drawing motifs with a lot of detail because my hands get sore from doing so.

“Modified Police Wolf”

What qualities do you think define a lasting icon or character within pop culture? What are the traits that you connect with in the icons you pull for your own work?

I think those characters seem to be composed of simple forms, but they are very calculated. I feel that the shapes are sometimes cool and sometimes cute. I read the meanings of these shapes deeply and incorporate them into my work.

Are there pop culture figures or influences that have had an impact on your philosophical view on life?

People who have influenced my life are Akira Toriyama, Takehiko Inoue, Yoshihiro Togashi, George Lucas, Spielberg, Stanley, and Walt Disney… the list is endless!

I think the characters and stories they create fascinate many people.

I guess these characters are like God to me.

What are your favorite things to do outside of the studio? 

I like going to see exhibitions of friends and artists that interest me, watching movies, and reading manga.

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?

I would like to be able to speak more languages other than Japanese.

I would also like to be able to create great stories like comic book writers, screenwriters, and novelists, but I can imagine the hardships they go through to create great works, so I am fine with being myself as I am now.

Exhibitions on view January 7 – January 28, 2023

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 230109-WEB-ts-73-1024x683.jpg

Photos by Birdman.

Video Tour & Opening Reception of Brian Viveros’s ‘Mania,’ Abigail Goldman’s ‘Instincts and Indulgences,’ Motelseven’s ‘Waiting for Atlantis’ and Huntz Liu’s ‘Dissolution’ | Exhibitions on view October 29 – November 19, 2022

Thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate the opening of Thinkspace Project’s new shows this past Saturday. Not only was the art incredible, art lovers showed up in amazing costumes to celebrate LA’s biggest Halloween art party!

Check out Brian M. Viveros‘s largest show yet, with 35 new works for ‘MANIA‘ in Gallery I. He delivered his signature detailed work, creating femme fatales as the heroes of their own stories.

In Gallery II, Motelseven‘s ‘Waiting for Atlantis‘ is playing with the juxtaposition of the colorful and playful among tragedy and existential turmoil. The subjects are callbacks to the women they’ve painted in the past, but this time they are ready to be defiant and break free.

Abigail Goldman brings the macabre on a tiny scale for ‘Instincts and Indulgences‘ in Gallery III. Enjoy the artist’s die-o-ramas of seemingly boring scenes with bits of gore and humor weaved throughout.

Don’t miss Huntz Liu‘s signature layering technique in their new collection ‘Dissolution.’ The way the artist plays with geometry and negative space to create is out of this world art.

Much love to Allison Bamcat, GoopMassta, Balloonski, The Roll n Bun, Timeless Vapes, Venice Beats, and everyone that came together to create one hell of a vibe in our courtyard!

All four exhibitions run through November 19.

Photos by Birdman

Interview with Brian M. Viveros for his upcoming exhibition ‘Mania’ opening Saturday, October 29 at Thinkspace Projects

Thinkspace Projects is thrilled to present Brian Viveros’s ‘MANIA‘. The CA-based artist best known for his highly detailed paintings of anti-pin-up doe-eyed ‘Woman of Power’ and his Dirtyland universe brings an entirely new body of work to the gallery.

MANIA is a tribute show, it’s a personal show, and it’s a bit of a journey taking viewers back in time to the things Viveros obsessed over as a kid, the things that ultimately drove the MANIA inside of him.

Our interview with Brian M. Viveros reveals stories behind the work, covers reflections on his artistic career, and provides a recommendation for the perfect spot to kick off a taco tour in San Diego.

MANIA pays tribute to the cultural influences that you obsessed over and inspired you in your youth, pulling references from various objects within your life – can you share any memories or anecdotes that directly tie to one of the pieces? 

Shhhure. One story that comes to mind is with the Conan the Barbarian tribute piece I did for this show entitled ‘Barbarian.’ It’s kind of a messed up story, but funny – here it goes. I was 8 years old, and Conan comics were a big part of my life and my dad was a collector of Conan and everything  Frazetta.  I remember being in class & being called to the office, which at that time was a scary thing (push play on scary music theme now HA!) but back then, when you got called to the principal’s office, it was not good. They had told me a family member had passed away and that my father was outside waiting for me in the car. When I got to the car, I was kind of sad and confused and asked my Dad, who passed away, and he said, ‘nobody,’ we’re going to see Conan the Barbarian it opened today, and I was like…. hell Yeahh!!!

This show was an exercise in pushing yourself out of your comfort zone; what did that look like for you when developing this body of work? What new techniques did you develop? Were there any valuable failure moments? 

Good question my friend; it actually had a lot to do with the size of the new location of your gallery. I felt this need and urge to go big and try new things. Sometimes space will do that to you. For me, I tend to plot things out in my mind and hold onto ideas for shows and hopefully, they’ll come to fruition. I’ve had this idea for a while about doing a MANIA show that would be a bit of a tribute show, and throwback to things that really moved me or I obsessed on as a kid. I even went back to using and incorporating some older mediums like spray paint for backgrounds and doing a set of pieces in gouache and watercolors. A lot of your readers may not know this but straight out of high school I opened the first graffiti hip-hop shop in the IE (Inland Empire) I was into spray painting and selling all the gear at that time in 93’. Anyhow, I brought back the can and cutting stencils for patterns, and things I use to do is now full circle with this set. As an artist, you grow and make mistakes in creating, its a good fuck up, and try something different & see what happens. Sometimes its a happy accident and sometimes it’s not, but you learn from it and move on

People feel extremely connected to your work, getting tattoos and dressing up as the women you paint for opening exhibitions. Has there been a fan experience or collector encounter that has really stuck with you? 

I think it was the last show we did, ‘Tougher Than Leather’ a friend of mine, Christina Preiss, showed up in a  full-on detailed head-to-toe Dia de Los Muertos Day of the Dead costume, and it just looked so RAD in the gallery. It created this awesome energy that night in the room. Something I’ll never forget and the people loved it

MANIA is your 7th solo exhibition with Thinkspace. Does this exhibition feel different, or do you have a similar emotional experience ahead of any show? 

Feels a little different for me this time around just because the work is on a different level now. Thus far, with my  DirtyLand ‘Woman of Power’ pieces, all the ones I’ve done throughout the years, it’s been about letting the viewer tell the story about these characters I’ve created. With MANIA, I’ve taken the narrator role, steering the Dirty-ship and taking you, the viewer, on a very personal journey.

When first developing your artistic voice, you wanted to ensure you had a distinct style that made it so if anyone saw one of your pieces; they immediately would know it was a Viveros – over your career, have you found the choices you made in the initial development to have been limiting or liberating? 

In the initial development, I was focused on just the smoking thing, and the red rose thing and giving my girls a certain signature look with the eyes and teardrop tattoo and this anti-pinup Dirty world I was creating where all the girls would be tough warriors, survivors sporting helmets & headgear.  I feel liberated in the sense that it’s no longer just about that. You still know it’s a Viveros without those specific elements. I’ve been doing it so long, and early on it was all about just the smoking with helmets, but it’s progressed –  I’ve progressed. The DirtyLand no longer needs cigarettes and red roses for you to know it’s a Viveros. It’s like my audience has grown with me and I’m always thankful for them and their support and growing with my art.

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?

That’s an easy one for me – filmmaking, and that’s where I’m headed

If you could collaborate with any artists in any medium (i.e. movies, music, fashion), who would you collaborate with, and what would you be making?

I’d love to collaborate with Guillermo Del Toro or Alejandro Jodorowsky on a film. We would be making a surreal revenge film with a twist of sci-fi and horror. The main character would be a kick-ass chick, of course>;-)

Who are some women from cinema, pop culture, or literature who you think embody the qualities of the women in your work? 

Some kick-ass women that come to mind that embody the qualities of my women would be Ripley from Alien, Sarah Connor from Terminator and Furiosa from Mad Max Fury Road, Spanish Flamenco Dancer Carmen Amaya, Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Blondie

What are qualities of significant women in your life that you admire and wish came more naturally to you?

Being a little more grounded for sure. I tend to be off in DirtyLandia land all the time. My mind is always racing and thinking, and now in my forties, I’m trying not to overthink shit so much and care so much. I think that happens in your forties HA!

You’re a big fan of tacos. If you could take 5 people, dead or alive, on a taco tour, who would be on the guest list, where would you go, and what would be ordered?

TACOMANIA!!!!! The five people I would take out for tacos in a taco van with a painted taco mural would be H.R. GIGER, The Beastie Boys – does that count as three ha!, Mike Dirnt he loves tacos like I love tacos, Picasso, and Bjork maybe that’s more than five we would drive to SALUD! in San Diego & few other hole in the wall spots in SD and sample all the tacos they offer. Always gotta try every places’ carnitas taco because they’re all so different. Then we’d all get drunk and have a break dancing contest on the street with LC DJing in the van Ha!

Opening on Saturday, October 29, from 6 – 11 pm with DJ’s Venice Beats, open bar + free drinks from Liquid Death, video projections from Digital Debris, installations from Balloonski, a vape bar from our friends at Timeless, live painting from Allison Bamcat, photo op props from GoopMassta, Day of the Dead stilt walkers, grub from The Roll N’ Bun + a Halloween costume contest with $500 top cash prize + loads of runner up prizes!!!

FREE poster commemorating ‘MANIA‘ given away to the first 200 patrons through the doors!

Exhibitions on view October 29 – November 19, 2022