Interview with Benzilla for ‘Alter Ego’ | Exhibition July 8 – July 29, 2023

Thinkspace is excited to present new work by Benzilla, born Parinya Sirisinsuk. ‘Alter Ego’ challenges boundaries, ignites contemplation, and humbly invites viewers to explore the intricate complexities of our world. With his signature 3-eyed alien “LOOOK,” Benzilla guides viewers through an exploration of paradox. Within the depths of each of us exists both the fiercest enemy and the most loyal companion. In these works that span mediums, Benzilla urges viewers to engage in a conversation with their inner selves, listening intently for answers. Weaving together traditional painting, spray paint, and graphic art, Benzilla welcomes audiences to delve into the realm of curiosity and embark on an enlightening journey through the artistic.

Our interview with Benzilla explains the inspiration behind his recent solo show with Thinkspace, the birth of his signature three-eyed alien “LOOOK,” and how living in Bangkok has encouraged the act of introspection.

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

I was born and raised in downtown Bangkok, living in a modest house. Growing up, I was exposed to rock and hip-hop music from the US and Japan, which influenced my interest. Pop Culture activities were also a significant part of my childhood and sparked my interest in creating things.

After graduating from a design school, I have been involved in painting, street art, and exploring various fields of art, including typography and character design. I first learned about Thinkspace through social media a few years ago and noticed their collaborations with talented artists.

What was the inspiration behind this body of work? What was the most challenging piece?

For this exhibition ALTER EGO, my aim is to incorporate thought-provoking messages beneath my colorful artwork. I want to capture the essence of our social media-driven society, where we often lose control of our minds as we spend hours on screens and compare ourselves to others. Drawing inspiration from my Buddhist upbringing, I’ve created two characters as metaphors for the inner workings of the mind. The completion of my first piece, “Inside,” was particularly challenging, and it sets the tone for the rest of the collection, reminding viewers of the motto that guides me: “being mindful of our own mind.”

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

Normally I paint day and night. Breakfast and tea and jump to morning paint session, Someday going out for lunch that helps to relax. The most productive time is at night but I want to move the main session to an early morning. It might be better to work with a fresh brain.

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

First thing I will search for something to listen to. I love to listen history documentary or sport podcasts while painting. It helps to keep a focus

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

I like putting the finishing touches on a painting—it’s my favorite part. However, I find it difficult to deal with a blank canvas when time is running out—that’s my least favorite part.

Who are some of your creative influences?

One of my teacher when I was in university. At that time I was a bottom rank in the class. He taught how to open the a doors of possibility to create anything.

When did you first start to develop what would eventually become your signature three-eyed alien “LOOOK”? What advice would you give to artists working on fostering a creative voice?

I created the Loook character about 10 years ago when I had difficulty connecting with friends who shared similar hobbies, interests, and perspectives. I wanted to convey the concept of being an outsider.

The Loook character doesn’t resemble a human or animal; it’s a creature from another realm. Its distinctive feature is three large eyes that symbolize its ability to observe and understand the complexities of our society and the chaotic nature of the world. The creative voice within me plays a crucial role in my work and daily life, providing motivation to create a meaningful body of work.

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 want to have a time travel skill to see how is a legendary artist work on their canvas

Your work encourages the act of introspection. What have you found to be your guiding principles for how you move through life?

I live in an unstable city affected by economic and political problems, which have a significant impact on people’s lives. Our world is going through many changes, including potential crises like food and water scarcity and ongoing conflicts. In this situation, I want to develop a peaceful mindset as a core principle of life and share it with my daughter. Through my work, I aim to communicate this message, while also considering other ideas for the future.

Who would be on the guest list if you could throw a dinner party for five people, dead or alive? What would be on the menu? What would be the icebreaker question?

  • Henri Matisse
  • David Hockney
  • Keith Haring
  • Stanley Kubrick
  • Flea

Thai spicy dinner would be great and I will ask them about the movie they love to watch.

Exhibition on view July 8 – July 29, 2023 at:
Thinkspace Projects
4207 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Los Angeles, California 90016

New print from Michael Polakowski available Friday July 14, 2023

Ever Increasing Speed‘ was one of the more buzzed about works showcased in Michael Polakoski’s recent solo exhibition ‘Anywhere & Here’ that took place with us earlier this year.

We’re excited to now offer ‘Ever Increasing Speed’ as a limited edition giclee print. The team over at Static Medium have done an incredible job recreating this incredible piece from Michael Polakowski. 

MICHAEL POLAKOWSKI

‘Ever Increasing Speed

Fine art print on Moab Entrada 290gsm paper

Hand deckled edges

19 x 24 inches / 40.6 x 50.8 cm

Edition of 25

Hand signed and numbered by the artist

$75

Available this Friday, July 14 at 10am PST / 1pm EST via our web shop.

Shipping costs are additional and will be calculated during check out. Any customs or duty fees incurred, are not the responsibility of the gallery.

Interview with Sarah Joncas for ‘Upon Another Shore ’ | Exhibition July 8 – July 29, 2023

Thinkspace is pleased to present Sarah JoncasUpon Another Shore.’ In this show, the figurative becomes a vehicle for more existential and constructivist emphases, an armature around which to posit narrative suggestions and symbolic inferences. Highly refined areas of figurative rendering, like the lush skin tones she achieves with oils, are combined with elements of a more graphic sensibility, executed in acrylics, to establish compelling visual tensions between realistic dimensional space and flattened stylization, which nods to her roots in illustration and animation. An early interest in animé and manga, as well as in those neo-noir cinematic references aforementioned, helped to galvanize Joncas’ interest in character-based works.

Our interview with Sarah reveals which color she finds difficult to work with, the challenges of being a mom, how she gets creative with her image references, and that one food dish she’s been craving.

What was your focus and process for this latest body of work? What were you exploring as an artist? 

I’ve been exploring this balance between realistic figures and graphic aesthetics for many years now, but after the mini solo I had with you guys last fall, I felt the need to play more with abstraction and other visual energies. Through my preliminary work building up compositions in photoshop, I began to enjoy my ‘sloppy’ cut and paste styling, the rough edges, and mistakes I’d make while using a computer mouse to draw in colour etc. It spurred me to start selectively including those within the finished pieces. I think both emotionally and visually it’s made for an interesting direction, though I’m uncertain at this time whether I’ll continue with it. Even though my paintings are very controlled, I tend to move through themes and ideas intuitively rather than spending a lot of time planning where I’ll move next.

What was the most challenging piece in this exhibition? 

I had some difficulties with ‘What Comes Back’, not just in creating a figure that looked natural, but deciding how I wanted to complete the work, moving back and forth with finishing touches and ways to balance the composition. I also find reds to be a very difficult colour to paint with (and photograph)! One of my favourites, but the paint itself tends to be less ‘solid’ than others, and more finicky. I end up painting more layers with it to get where I want.

How has your studio practice changed or evolved since becoming a mother? As an artist, how do you prepare for maternity leave? 

When your kids are so young (toddler currently and a baby on the way), you do have to sacrifice far more of your time and energy, some of it unexpectedly when your child is sick, or you don’t have other care options. I’ve had to find ways to balance my work and take time away from it to be where I’m needed. Living in Canada, our mat leave is much longer too, and I was pretty much a year out of work looking after my first (especially during covid when there was no aid). Because I’m self employed, I didn’t have a funded mat leave, but instead tried to bank paintings and work that I could sell while away, also did what I could in order to have a larger show just before my expectant due date. Thankfully, things worked out for me that way, it’s not the kind of thing you have full control over! Despite your plans, pregnancy and babies do their own thing, hah.

How many different pencils/graphite tools do you use for your drawings? Do you have any new favorite materials you’ve added to your art box? 

I only have a case of about 12 pencils I use for my drawings (have had it nearly a decade now), along with a mechanical pencil I love for finer linework. Then I have a few erasers, kneaded and gum, and black gesso for the backgrounds. I use a couple smaller, fineliner pens for any detail work as well. I recently picked up a handful of artist pencil crayons to play around with now that this larger show of work is completed.  See how I might like incorporating washy acrylic backgrounds, with colour penciled drawings and paint. Play around more with mixed media on paper. 

Are you a collector of faces for references and inspiration? Do you work with models to get the right reference shot? 

Most of my references are images that I build up through collage, cut and paste, in photoshop. Stock imagery, models, celebrities and myself or friends, where needed. Sometimes a face can be the eyes from one person and the lips of another, while I’ll take photos of my own hands or clothing (face even) when I want something specific. The lighting in those refs can be also become quite jarring, not all looking to be from the same source, so I’ll incorporate my own interpretation and invention to attempt making it look natural.

You’ve shared that you’ve wanted to incorporate more of your travels into your works. Have any of the pieces in this exhibition been inspired by or used references from your travels? 

Before covid I had begun to do so! Had used some photos I took in Iceland and Japan to help with a handful of works I created, but since covid I haven’t traveled at all. I guess the pregnancies and babies have put a hamper on those things as well for now. In the future, I hope traveling can be something I get to pick up once again!

Can you share with us a piece of artwork or museum exhibition that has significantly impacted you as an artist? Or has left the longest impression?

It’s very hard to choose one image or show that’s impacted me quite so much, but looking back I honestly think seeing my first issue of Juxtapoz as a teen had the most significant change with where I wanted to go in my career. The issue featured Lori Earley’s ‘The Hunter’ on the cover. I had only just started getting into oils and exploring female portraiture myself, and her work just put me in awe. I felt so driven to accomplish that smoothness of skin. Her paintings possessed that deep skill and lushness of an old master, but was modern and edgy and almost digital looking… My own work has changed a lot since that time, but I think seeing her paintings (along with many, many other artists work) in the pages of Juxtapoz influenced me towards a path in fine art rather than my original goal of being an animator.

What piece of unsuspecting advice or words of wisdom has helped you on your artistic journey?

I haven’t had a ton of mentorship in my years growing as an artist, but I think following your heart within your work and learning not to let every piece of criticism stop you from pursuing that has been fruitful to me. As a kid and teen, I could be very influenced by others opinions, trying to be obedient/responsive to where others thought I could or should change, but it’s very important not to lose yourself and what makes you happy, especially with something as personal as art! I’ve learned that’s the place where you’re most likely to excel anyhow, by listening to what drives you.

What is one of your most memorable meals? It could be because of the food you ate or the company you dined with, but it is a meal that has stood the test of time.  

I can’t pinpoint one meal that stands out being better than any other, but lately I have been dreaming about this pasta dish I ate in Florence about 4 years ago… And you know, I’m not that crazy about Italian food (I enjoy it, but it’s far from my favourite). Find a lot of Italian food I eat locally is kind of mediocre/mundane, but this plate I got while traveling Florence was just amazing… Far better than any other meal I ordered while traveling Italy, as well. And it was just some tiny, local spot, no bells or whistles. I don’t even remember the name of the restaurant now, but I regret not having had another day in Florence to dine there a second time, haha.

Exhibition on view July 8 – July 29, 2023 at:
Thinkspace Projects
4207 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Los Angeles, California 90016

Interview with Reen Barrera for ‘Emotional Meat’ | Exhibition July 8 – July 29, 2023

Thinkspace is excited to present Reen BarreraEmotional Meat‘ where he explores the contemporary generation’s frantic demand for struggles and hustles. As many are fixated on succeeding, motivated by individualistic rationalities, often a disregard for the important aspect of one’s existence comes to light. With an array of new works on canvas alongside a new collection of his signature hand made sculptures, Barrera has created a show that is light and playful, while brimming with profound meaning and deep emotion.

Our interview with Reen shares his favorite dolls, growing up with grandma in Manila, about his favorite collectables and more!

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

I have a realization upon creating the theme/title “Emotional Meat” that without emotion we are just a bunch of meat trying to eat each other, and it’s just fascinating that us humans having this skill called emotion helps us gauge life in a more interesting way.

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

In my career as an artist, I was first a sculptor, and it requires studies and planning before creating one. What’s challenging for me is painting, it’s like every canvas is a page on a diary, more like a subconscious confession. And at the end of every piece I learn something about my self and my surroundings.

Have you ever deep-dived and researched dolls from other cultures? If so, do you have a favorite type of doll?

I haven’t really delved into cultural dolls, thanks for reminding me, I will do research on that. About choosing what’s my favorite, it’s the Japanese dolls, one thing it’s always on display at our local surplus stores, and my aunt’s house who use to work in japan own a lot of these dolls, Like my dolls they posses a simple facial expression, but carry a lot of meaning.

What part of the Philippines did you grow up in? What was your community and surrounding area like? How does it differ from where you live and work today? 

I grew up in Manila, raised by my grandma. As a homebody, my only playground is inside our small apartment filled with hoarded items by my grandma thus making me enjoy using cloth, wood etc. as a medium. Now I hoard things too in my present studio, my grandma must be proud. 

Do you have any rituals or practices that help you overcome internal struggles or navigate excessive outside stressors? 

Just the process of doing it right away without any need to be inspired has always worked for me, and also a good night sleep makes my head clear.

When you quit your day job and decided to work on your art full-time, what was the decision-making process like leading up to that moment? How did you prepare for that shift? 

I ask my father first for advice/help that I would like to try art as a full time career for a year, and if ever I need financial help he promised to support me. I thank the gods of arts that I survived that year without bothering my father. I was lucky because I met the right people, and will be forever grateful to them.

Have you treated yourself to a Lego set yet? What are your favorite art collector toys? 

I don’t have a lego set yet, but I got addicted to dragon balls and Ultraman figures. 

Watching films is one way you recharge your creative batteries. Can you recommend three movies that should be on our to-be-watched list? 

Any good Marvel/DC movies I rewatch if I need to recharge, then while working, King of the Hill or Southpark is on repeat, helps me keep the stress level low.

You’ve shared that the bravery of the ideas of Jean-Michel Basquiat, David Choe, and Cecile Perra has helped you move beyond your comfort – can you elaborate on the philosophical principles of these artists that have moved you?

One thing that they have in common is having a strong personality and they are honest with their work in my opinion, knowing their stories and what they stand for is enough for the young me to  be moved and be fired up to tell my story through art.

Exhibition on view July 8 – July 29, 2023 at:
Thinkspace Projects
4217 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Los Angeles, California 90016

Sign up by this Friday for our Blood Drive!

The Thinkspace Blood Drive is this Friday and we’re at 50% of our sign-up goal!

Join Thinkspace Projects and the American Redcross this Friday, July 14, from 11 am to 5:30 pm to help save lives.

We will have a bloodmobile onsite in our courtyard, and galleries will be open to check out our July exhibitions. Blood donors will receive a “Give Blood” collector button from GATS PTV and be entered into a raffle to win some great gratitude gifts. Plus, the American Red Cross is offering donors a $15 e-gift card to their merchant of choice.

This meaningful event was inspired by the chaotic nature of life, where we often face circumstances beyond our control—loved ones falling ill, gun violence, car accidents, truly, we all know how the list can go on. However, we can reclaim our sense of control by showing up for our community and making a profound impact. Unleash the creativity of compassion and create a ripple effect of hope.

Nationwide, someone needs a unit of blood every 2 to 3 seconds, and most of us will need blood in our lifetime. Help prevent a blood shortage.

SCHEDULE YOUR DONOR APPOINTMENT HERE!

Thinkspace Projects
4207 W. Jefferson Blvd. (out in the courtyard)
Los Angeles, California 90016