Coming up on February 5 at Thinkspace

Gallery Two | ANDREA ARAGON | Somas Magicas
Viewing Room | MARIE CLAUDE MARQUIS | Thinking of You
Viewing Room | ESHINLOKUN WASIU | New Works
Viewing Room | ALEX FACE | New Works

On view February 5 – February 26, 2022

Opening Reception:
Saturday, February 5 from 5pm-9pm | artists will be in attendance
– Masks are required during your visit –

Thinkspace Projects is thrilled to present an all-new group exhibition and all-new solo show simultaneously, continuing their 2022 momentum. Each artist’s work is unified by storytelling, displaying an array of memories and experiences within the walls of the gallery.

In Gallery One, four artists join forces for Intersections, filling the space with complementary and contrasting works from Sean Banister, Alvaro Naddeo, Gustavo Rimada, and Manuel Zamudio. The exhibition is incredibly relevant, drawing on themes of time, identity, and blurring boundaries to explore true connection.

Southern California-based artist Sean Banister uses this show as an expansion and continuation of his work in 2020, delving into the identity of humans as storytellers and collectors. Having developed a strong interest in how the items we interact with and collect help us to craft our own self-narratives, Banister explores how this affects image and individuality, from the way one sees themself personally to the way they exist and are viewed in the world.  While each of his pieces for “Intersections” is unique, together they all act as facets of the same experience of living in our current time.

Alvaro Naddeo approaches Intersections with the desire to create work that mixes personal memories with the collective memories of our society. In pulling textures from the places Naddeo has personally been and incorporating them into greater social and political commentary, he is able to tell stories that may not have previously been told. He works to give space to the marginalized and the minorities, “those who can see and smell everything good that America has, but are never allowed to get there.”

Gustavo Rimada brings the perspective of his own ancestry to the show. This body of work is part of an on-going series from Rimada, which tells a story about how our ancestors connect with us. “Whether it’s celebrating Dia de los Muertos in my work or telling old folk stories about our ancestors returning to nature, my goal is to create a space where you can feel the connection and spirit between nature and the afterlife.” This series is heavily influenced by his culture, emphasizing the connection between humans and nature from the day they are born to the day they pass away. With these works, Rimada aims to translate that journey, aiding viewers in understanding.

Manuel Zamudio also brings the theme of life and death into his collection, focusing on the transition between them. He maintains the post-apocalyptic world that he had built with his previous solo show here at Thinkspace, but delves into architecture and urban landscape as a foundation for the exploration of the afterlife. With new-age ghost-inspired characters Zamudio explores the delicate line between life and death, which grows thinner every day. He highlights the fragile boundaries between body and soul, life and death, day and night, living in the transitions. 

In Gallery Two, Andrea Aragon fills the space with her latest solo show Somas Magicas. Aragon draws upon her own experiences and surrounding community to create breath-taking oil paintings that do not sugar coat the human experience. Aragon’s goal is to present an awareness and give a perspective of individuals whose story has yet to be fully told, reaching a broader audience than they might on their own. The artist hopes her works sheds light on how similar we are as inhabitants of this earth, and how we can benefit from just a little bit more understanding. With each piece, Aragon evokes compassion.

As an added bonus, in our viewing room we’re excited to showcase a small new collection of plates from longtime gallery favorite Marie Claude Marquis, alongside new works from recent Thinkspace Family new comers Eshinlokun Wasiu and Alex Face.

About Sean Banister
Sean Banister is a SoCal artist. Working as a high school teacher for the past 18 years, he has always been a passionate learner and works to bring that excitement for learning to the classroom. Banister is largely a self-taught artist, having pursued a degree in English and taken a just few very encouraging classes at the local community college to get back into drawing and painting after a long time away. In his work, Banister often chooses objects and their human counterparts to be the subject of his work, drawing out the relationships between them. Banister’s work draws out the narratives stored in the items in his paintings to reveal feelings we have about who we are and how we chose to exist.

About Alvaro Naddeo
Originally from São Paulo, Brazil, Naddeo has lived in Lima, New York City, and is currently based in Los Angeles. These urban environments shaped his memory and permeate most of his work. Naddeo’s father is an illustrator, and as a child he spent many hours drawing and watching him work. Constantly encouraged by his father, he was both inspired and intimidated. At 17, the intimidation got the best of him and he quit, choosing to pursue a career in advertising as an Art Director. This allowed him to exercise his interest in art, without requiring mastery with the pencil or brush. Twenty years later, while living in New York City he found himself inspired to once again pick up the brush. Now he is back to painting, this time Naddeo is not quitting.

About Gustavo Rimada
Born in Torreon, Mexico, Rimada and his family immigrated to California when he was seven years old. Raised in Indio, California, he began taking art classes at a young age and attended The Art Institute in Santa Monica California. After September 11th 2001, Rimada was inspired to join the Army, serving three years before returning to his true love, art. Rimada painted on any surface he could find, canvas, shoes, bags, etc, eventually finding the tattoo culture that inspired him to further pursue his passion for painting. When Rimada is not painting, he is a devoted father and family man.

About Manuel Zamudio
Zamudio is a painter, a muralist, and a storyteller. Born in Mexico City, Zamudio made his way to the talent-rich city of McAllen, Texas in 1992 at the age of 5. While dealing with the challenges that often come with assimilating to a starkly different culture at a very young age, Zamudio found refuge by immersing himself in art.  As a self-taught artist, he started perfecting his technique by replicating comic books, without knowing or understanding the human figure and the concepts of color schemes. As he grew older, he started taking an interest in the urban culture of South Texas, learning color schemes, perception, shadow, and so on from local graffiti artists. Now, Zamudio has taken his passion into a new path: storytelling.  He has displayed his artwork in numerous galleries and museums in the United States and Mexico.  His new line of work has been immensely inspired by great works of cinematography, street art, and post-apocalyptic sci-fi novels. His new work explores new methods of how to bring cinematography onto the canvas. Zamudio is a painter, a muralist, and a storyteller.

About Marie Claude Marquis

Excited to have a collection of 25 new insults on antique plates from Canada’s Marie Claude Marquis on view this February in our viewing room for her mini show Thinking of You.

MC Marquis is an artist whose practice is rather multidisciplinary. Touching both graphic design and visual arts, she is inspired by souvenirs, nostalgia, pop culture, Québec identity and her own emotions which she expresses with humor, a feminine touch and a colorful sensitivity.

In her gallery work, Marie-Claude has mastered the art of re-appropriation in giving found objects new meaning. That way she can give these objects a second life, prolong their existence and reduce her own environmental impact. Mainly by typographical interventions, she always finds a way to give new meanings to these antiques. The result of her work is often humorous, sometimes irreverent but always keeps a big focus on aesthetics

About Andrea Aragon
In Gallery Two, Andrea Aragon fills the space with her debut solo show Somas Magicas. As an artist and first-generation Mexican American, Andrea Aragon has chosen oil painting as an avenue to illustrate and shape the human experience within her community. She draws upon the community around her, the majority of which can be categorized as lower to lower middle-class America. Aragon uses her ongoing knowledge of political, cultural, and social understandings to entice a juxtaposed narrative that invites the viewer to tap into their self-consciousness, ultimately creating raw and relatable works.

About Esihinlokun Wasiu
Eshinlokun Wasiu (b. 1998, Lagos, Nigeria) is a full time surrealist artist who sees life’s challenges as a tool for creating his masterpieces. And has been prolific in producing works that speak about the society and its effect on the people around. Culture, identification and power of humanity are a few aspects of his current research and artistic practice.

Eshinlokun Wasiu studied Business Administration at Yaba College of Education, Nigeria. His interest in art, as well as his career began while he was a kid with the support of his mother. Inspired by issues relating to him and those who are around him, he began creating works that reflect the everyday struggles of people, with the hopes of making a change in people life and way of thinking. He exercises himself by using of charcoal and acrylic paints to create silhouette that seem to have been in bond and value.

Eshinlokun is reintroducing the “ Surrealism “ movement in a way the world will appreciate in a different form. His also part of the title deed art collective curated by Ken Nwadiogbu 2019/2020. Also had a residency at AAF ( African Artists’ Foundation ) in the year 2020

Eshinlokun Wasiu is constantly revitalizing his practice by challenging modes of Black representation. His oeuvres do not just encompass various forms of drawing using acrylic and charcoal, but most recently transcends into photography, sculpture, installation and performance art.

About Alex Face
Patcharapol Tangruen (aka Alex Face / b. 1981) is a well-known and influential graffiti artist in Thailand. Alex studied architecture at Bangkok’s King Mongktut Institute of Technology and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in the Department of Fine and Applied Arts. An interest in architecture led Alex Face to explore and wander the streets and back alleys of Bangkok for abandoned buildings, sites that he eventually used as a canvas to develop his street art.

Using Alex Face as his alter ego, the artist attempts to create a link with the urban population, the underprivileged of Bangkok and the surrounding provinces. His iconic character showcases the adventures of a disillusioned child in a baby rabbit costume who looks wise beyond his years, at first glance appearing cute, but all the time worrying about the future of our world.

About Thinkspace                               
Thinkspace was founded in 2005; now in LA’s thriving West Adams District, the gallery has garnered an international reputation as one of the most active and productive exponents of the New Contemporary Art Movement. Maintaining its founding commitment to the promotion and support of its artists, Thinkspace has steadily expanded its roster and diversified its projects, creating collaborative and institutional opportunities all over the world. Founded in the spirit of forging recognition for young, emerging, and lesser-known talents, the gallery is now home to artists from all over the world, ranging from the emerging, mid-career, and established.

Though the New Contemporary Art Movement has remained largely unacknowledged by the vetted institutions of the fine art world and its arbiters of ‘high culture,’ the future promises a shift. The Movement’s formative aversion to the establishment is also waning in the wake of its increased visibility, institutional presence, and widespread popularity. Thinkspace has sought to champion and promote the unique breadth of the Movement, creating new opportunities for the presentation of its artists and work. An active advocate for what is now one of the longest extant organized art movements in history, Thinkspace is an established voice for its continued growth and evolution, proving their commitment by expanding its projects beyond Los Angeles, exhibiting with partner galleries and organizations in Berlin, Hong Kong, London, New York City, Detroit, Chicago, and Honolulu among many others, participating in International Art Fairs, and curating New Contemporary content for Museums. Committed to the vision, risk, and exceptional gifts of its artists, the gallery is first and foremost a family. From the streets to the museums, and from the “margins” to the white cube, Thinkspace is re-envisioning what it means to be “institutional.”

Interview with Z the Rat ( aka Zeinab Diomande) for ‘U’ve Seen It… U Can’t Unsee It’ | Exhibition on view January 8 – January 29 at Thinkspace Projects

Thinkspace Projects is pleased to present a collection of works from artist Z the Rat (aka Zeinab Diomande), who through her work explores the theme of mental health and her experience as a black woman.

Her exhibition ‘U’ve seen it… U can’t Unsee It’ expresses the intersection between what one longs for and the struggles they have to face. The artist describes these paintings as “love letters to my child-self”. Her relatively simple, yet simultaneously complex, compositions use of bright colors give a sense of warmth and safety that at times can still feel heavy. Contrasting the pensive characters, all of these opposing forces and their conflicting nature are a byproduct of one’s desire to create safety out of chaos.

In our interview with Z the Rat she shares with us where she finds inspiration, advice she’d give her past self, and a peek into her artistic practice.  

Can you share with us a little bit about your upbringing and where you are currently creating?

I originally come from the Ivory Coast, though I was born here in Virginia! My parents moved back to the Ivory Coast when I was 4 months old so being back here in the U.S still feels very new but still a very fun journey! I am currently based in Philadelphia where I go to college and have my studio. 

What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? What themes have you been exploring in your work, lately?

The inspiration for this body of work was a reflection on the conflicting nature of some themes I was exploring such as the idea of peace within chaos. Most of these paintings are love letters to my child-self. The environment my characters are in are generally very bright and colorful which feels warm, safe, and inviting. On the other hand, the characters are very pensive. Other times the paintings are a lot more chaotic and more cluttered. I am definitely reflecting on what my child-self would’ve liked for herself, the type of environment she was longing for as opposed to what was around at the time. 

Could you share what your day-to-day looks like when working in your studio? 

My studio days are very simple. I generally like to have my jazz playlist in the background and my cat around. I don’t really sketch so I just have an idea in mind, my notebook handy with my notes and once I have the figure fully painted I just work around it. It’s the core of the painting, if it’s not good, the whole painting is ruined in advance.

What’s in your “artistic toolbox”? Are you particular about brands that you use? 

My toolbox has a lot of leftover paint, palettes that I need to clean, lots of oil pastel, color pencils and paper scraps. I like the idea of repurposing materials so I hoard a little. I use a lot of acrylic, I am not very specific on the brand mostly student grade “Blick” brand. When it comes to oil pastel though, I am very particular about the brand I like bright colors so I make sure I get the ones with the most pigment.

How do you like to unwind outside of the studio? 

On days where I am not in the studio being a hermit, I like to get together with my friends, chef it up, go to the park or just chill with my cat. 

Do you have a process for sourcing and/or keeping track of your inspiration? 

Whenever I feel like I need to be very inspired, I like to watch documentaries. There’s one specific video that I always go to when I need an extra boost and it’s the Tate’s video of Njideka Akunyili-Crosby. There is something about the way she talks about her process and experience that really feels motivating, endearing and encouraging. It works all the time. 

Most artists express themselves creatively as a child, but there is a moment when a shift occurs from just being creatively inclined to being more artistically minded – do you know when that moment was for you?

 I think being creative and being artistic go hand in hand when you are an artist. The skills you have built over the years whether it be painting, drawing etc are deeply connected to your creative approach. Creativity is your ability to problem solve, figure out ways to use the technical skills that you have to stand out. I don’t think there’s a point in time where they stop working together. When I realized this I was 16 and it’s still something I hold on to now. 

Have you ever worked outside creating public murals? If not, would you be interested in pursuing one day? 

I have never worked on a mural before or any public art but this is definitely something I would like to do in the future! 

What words of wisdom would you share with your past self when you were just starting to create art? Is there anything in your artistic journey that you wish you may have done differently? 

If there’s anything I would like to say to my past self is don’t rush, longevity over instant gratification. If you fly too fast, you’ll burn your wings. Keep on practicing, that drive that you have is all you need. Rejection is redirection, if the shoe doesn’t fit, there’s your size elsewhere! 

Anything in my artistic journey that I wish I’d done different is definitely taking breaks when necessary. I realized that  listening to your body and prioritizing your health whether it be physical or mental is crucial. Work can wait. I wish I learned that a little sooner.  

What did you find to be the biggest challenge of 2020 for you?

I think my biggest challenge in 2020 was how distant the art community felt. Since everything moved online it felt a little odd at first and as much as I enjoy online exhibitions there is something about seeing art in person that cannot be replicated virtually. 

What is your proudest accomplishment of 2021? Life thus far? (can be art-related or not)

I think it was my first gallery exhibition in my home country at the LouiSimone Guirandou Gallery. It was very emotional to have my mom, my siblings and everyone who saw me in my very first steps. The show went beyond my expectations and It just reminded me that if it weren’t for all of these people’s I wouldn’t be where I am today. Taking a step back to think about this helps me stay centered and grounded. My mom has many more shows to witness and we’ll make it happen! 

What big projects do you have coming up in 2022?

I will be starting my last year of college, so definitely my thesis exhibition and a couple of art fairs that I have coming up! 

Interview with IMON BOY for ‘No Regrets’ | Exhibition on view January 8 – January 29 at Thinkspace Projects

Thinkspace Projects is pleased to present Imon Boy’s latest solo show, ‘No Regrets.’ The exhibition explores the crossover between his graffiti work and studio practice, showcasing the multi-disciplinary artist’s diverse expressions of his unified style.  

While Imon Boy closely guards his identity, his work is full of personality, making even his persona immensely engaging. The Malaga-based graffiti writer has crafted a career by mocking the “graffiti establishment.” He rejects the idea of working for the purpose of impressing others or using traditionally technical skills, opting to create paintings and illustrations that are tongue-in-cheek but surprisingly tender, exploring and evoking universal themes and emotions.

Our interview with IMON BOY touches on elements that challenged him as an artist and the inspiration derived from the act of living.

What was the inspiration behind this latest work? What topics were you exploring?

In general, different types of light, different lighting and new vibrations

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

The boy breaking the brick gave me new ideas for future paintings. The moonlight in the background, a glass that separates two planes and an interior of a police car. I think it’s my favorite work on the show

Could you share what your day-to-day life is like when you work on a new body of work?

No day is the same for me. Sometimes I paint for days in a row and sometimes I rest for days in a row, but the ideal is to alternate painting with graffiti, beach, food, movies, etc. to live

What’s in your “art toolbox”? Are you particular about the brands you use?

No. I have a common box. Lots of color variety always. I don’t like to use low-quality materials or bad paint, a good brand and that’s it. Cheap is expensive.

How do you like to relax outside of the studio?

Sometimes I’m more relaxed in the studio than outside. Outside, I like to live what I have around me, the neighborhood where I live, the people around me, etc. But above all, the sun and the water

Do you have a process to search and / or track your inspiration?

I just live. The feeling and inspiration comes to me when I live happy and have good ideas. The key to my job is to draw constantly. Make sketches and ideas without obligation, just for me. to experience. Some of these experiments I also use in the show

Most artists express themselves creatively as children, but there is a time when there is a shift from a creative bent to a more artistic mindset. Do you know when that moment was for you?

It has all been very evolutionary. Like graffiti, way of thinking, etc. Nothing is suddenly

Where have you traveled to work on a mural or display your work in a gallery space? Do you have a favorite destination / wall and why?

The last one went to NY. The truth is that I like the idea of ​​creating canvases in my studio and exposing them to the rest of the world, and I reserve graffiti for myself. Paint where I want, how I want, when I want and in the format that I choose. If I am given the choice between a façade of a 20-story building and a small wall, I choose the small one.

But if they offer me to travel to a place like Hawaii (for example) where I feel comfortable and offer me a wall where I have total freedom, I would.

What words of wisdom would you share with your past self when you were just starting to show your work / create murals? Is there something on your artistic journey that you wish you had done differently?

I would say many things to my Imon from the past. It would help you choose who to work with and who not to work with. I would tell him who to this day has loved me out of interest or from the heart. If I look at the past, I have done bad things … but from the bad and from the mistakes you also learn

What seemed the biggest challenge of 2020 for you?

Being able to live in a state like Spain, infected with corruption and laws where you obey, pay, pay and pay again. Taxes, electricity, housing … I believe that living in Spain with dignity is already an achievement

What is your proudest achievement of 2021? Life until now? (may or may not be related to art)

That of all the times I have painted on the street, I have only been caught by the police once. It’s a good year

What big projects do you have in 2022?

Caring for my baby cat Benito

Interview with STOM500 for ‘Cortez’ | Exhibition on view January 8 – January 29 at Thinkspace Projects

Thinkspace Projects is pleased to present STOM500 latest solo exhibition, ‘Cortez.’ The show, aptly titled after the famous shoe model Forest Gump wore during his run across the country, pays tribute to different states within the US. 

Stom500, who is based in France, wanted to travel throughout the country, despite finding it increasingly complicated due to the COVID health crisis. Determined to safely find inspiration, he planned a road trip designed to take him through as many states as possible. Drawing inspiration from this trip, Stom500 created ‘Cortez.’ With 8 pieces representing 8 different states, this exhibition plays with the notion of living together. 

Our interview with STOM500 dives deeper into the inspiration and development of this latest body of work, along with insight into his passion for murals, plus a few wise words for artists young and seasoned

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

This exhibition is called “CORTEZ” and pays homage to the United States through its different states.
This name is actually the shoe model that Forrest Gump wore while running across the country. At a time when traveling to and from the United States is very complicated, I wanted to travel a little, while living in France. For that I only had books, internet, podcasts and some movies. My vision of the country is only made from things I haven’t seen in real life and yet I had the impression to travel while doing all my research. The themes are always around animals, culture and history. The more I explored, the more I fell in love with this multi-faceted country and I can’t wait to get back there for this exhibition!

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

This is a very hard question to answer because I had to choose 8 states out of the 50 states in the country. I explored more than 20 states while researching sketches, only selecting the ones that inspired me enough to come up with a real track. Once chosen it was very pleasant to paint them. So I would say that the hardest part was making that selection! I knew I wanted to paint New York City and California, which have so many strong symbols but can also seem a bit cliché. It was quite hard, on these two paintings, to sort out the good ideas from the bad ones and so these are the two that took me the most time to think about. I work on all my ideas with the precious help of my wife who simply told me to realize them last and it was great advice! ^^

Could you share what your day-to-day looks like when working on a new body of work? 

For this exhibition, it was really a funny gymnastics. I need to have a rhythm to my week to be effective in my paintings. I start painting early around 7 am and finish around 6 pm every day. I start my reflection on the weekend often on Saturday morning to be able to exchange with my wife during breakfast, a very precious and important moment. I then have the whole weekend to flesh out our exchanges and I make my sketch on Sunday evening very quickly when I am relaxed. I think that it is there that I am effective because I am rested and my ideas are clearer. Then comes the realization part where I work early, simply because I can’t sleep once the painting is in progress.

What’s in your “artistic toolbox”? Are you particular about brands you use? 

I work mainly with paints that I buy from a manufacturer in Strasbourg, the city where I live. Then I make my own mixtures to make shades that I use throughout the exhibition. This allows me to create unity throughout the series. I then work a lot with the brand of paint Molotow. It allows me to have a certain rendering with very bright colors like the yellows that I use regularly to give light. It is extremely important for me to have quality in my paints as well as in my material. I invest a lot in all this to give the best of myself and never stop progressing. In my toolbox, there are also craftsmen who are experts in their field and I value the relationship I have with my printers and collaborators! 

How do you like to unwind outside of the studio? 

If I’m not painting in my studio, I’m painting a wall! The essence of my work comes from graffiti. So when I’m not painting with brushes, I go back to spray paint! 
My 2nd passion is food! I love to cook and gather some friends around a good vegetal meal. Most of my time is then spent visiting museums, tours, and cultural mops of all kinds to continue to educate myself and come back to the studio with new ideas!

Do you have a process for sourcing and/or keeping track of your inspiration? 

It’s the little things in everyday life that inspire me the most! My phone is filled with a wide variety of pictures from very simple illustrations to very technical paintings. I love the contrast of being able to paint something simple but with a lot of effect! Going to museums or just walking around town is a real source of inspiration.

In parallel to my work as an artist, I am the artistic director of an urban art festival that brings together about twenty artists from all over the world to create walls in unusual places for the past three years. The meetings, exchanges and sometimes collaboration are also a real source of inspiration for me! I attach a lot of importance to these exchanges which are very enriching as much on the content as on the form. 

Most artists express themselves creatively as a child, but there is a moment when a shift occurs from just being creatively inclined to being more artistically minded – do you know when that moment was for you?

Personally, I feel like I’ve kept some of my childhood soul. It’s just the toys that have grown up! I paint much bigger walls and play with pods instead of miniature trucks. And basically graffiti is the opposite of what our parents told us to do. Don’t write on the walls they said! 30 years later it has become my reason to live and what makes them proud! My work has matured and I ask myself more questions about environmental and societal issues but it is still the child in me who is in charge!

Where have you traveled to either work on a mural or showcase your work in a gallery space? Do you have a favorite destination/wall and why? 

From Kosovo to Portugal and from graffiti jams to the big mural festival I love to travel! It doesn’t matter what the destination is! But it’s definitely the trip to Washington for the POW WOW festival that will stick with me the most. I remember arriving in the city, looking for the small wall I had seen in pictures and realizing that it was 4X bigger in reality. It was quite a challenge and of course I loved it! It was definitely one of the best festivals I’ve ever been to and I’d love to do it again here!

What words of wisdom would you share with your past self when you were just starting to show your work/ create murals? Is there anything in your artistic journey that you wish you may have done differently? 

When I started painting 10 years ago I met some really great people in graffiti. I feel more like a muralist today because I do huge murals but it’s important for me to know how to do a Throw Up and I still enjoy going to paint a train at night. But I also see my elders who sometimes have fixed ideas like it was better before. I think you have to live with the times and keep doing it with passion and energy! This is the real basis of our culture. 
After, at 34 years old, I am almost 20 years older than the kids who are starting today! So finally the old one is maybe me today! It’s important to listen to what the new generations have to say to move the movement forward.

What did you find to be the biggest challenge of 2020 for you?

My biggest challenge was to paint a 34m high wall. That’s the biggest one yet! In general, I have done more murals and more paintings in my studio than in other years. It was a very rich and complete year because to feel good I need to paint outside as well as inside.

What is your proudest accomplishment of 2021? Life thus far? (can be art-related or not)

My proudest accomplishment to date is a series of postcards that I found in a store in Belgium during a trip. Most of these cards are almost 100 years old and all come from the USA. I made original paintings on each of them, paying homage to the states from which these cards originated and to the travelers who were passing through. Bringing them back to their country of origin continues the travel process and feeds the theme of my exhibition. A century or so later the maps are coming back to the US, a nice return to the sender in my opinion.  

What big projects do you have coming up in 2022?

I’ve been painting animals for years but I realize that I don’t know them all that well in the end. I haven’t met them all, so in 2022 and for the next few years I would really like to get closer to them to understand them better, to observe their gestures and their way of life in community.  

Interview with Ryol for ‘Reimagined Heroes’ on view at Thinkspace Projects | December 11, 2021 – January 1, 2022

Thinkspace Projects is pleased to present ‘ReImagined Heroes,’ a body of work that provides a small taste of what we can expect from RYOL’s upcoming July 2022 debut U.S. solo exhibition

At a glance, RYOL’s paintings are charmingly whimsical; pop surrealist artworks skillfully done in an illustrative style reminiscent of the world of anime. The visual veneer of his artworks camouflages the fact the artist broaches subjects that are in contrast quite contemporary.

Upon closer examination, the subjects this young artist’s works address are far from frivolous. Among them, critiques of traditional patriarchic society, social behavior that is quick to judge others, as well as the fluidity of modern-day gender and gender roles, to name a few.

To celebrate ‘ReImagined Heroes‘ and Thinkspace Projects final exhibitions of 2021, our interview with RYOL explores his experimentation with different mediums and his insight into the soul of an artist.

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

The inspiration came from the habits of scribbling on the photos of figures in history books.

Theme: focus on ready-made works initiated by Marcel Duchamp whose a label of a contemporary pop artist. The preference of the theme refers to the inspiration for creation that comes from the inspiration I mentioned above.

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

Challenge: I bring the pop artworks to the center of pop culture itself, where the pop culture grows. It’s very challenging because I’m growing up within this pop culture.

As an Eastern person who grew up in the middle of Eastern culture, I’m experiencing today’s global culture. The basic principles of life embedded in local culture have become a culture that I must involve into my area of art.

Well, this is the characteristic of the artwork I brought to the global realm.

In essence, products of pop culture are generated by Western. Regarding this, I have the opinion that pop culture in Indonesia is consumerism. This is the reason why there are some of my works which were made in the form of appropriations.

Could you share what your day-to-day looks like when working on a new body of work?

Starting with the idea that I wanna make, then figuring out the concept. The next step is visualizing. I make the visuals based on the idea and concept. Then I put those visuals on the papers. When it’s in line with what I thought, I just process it on the canvas.

What’s in your “artistic toolbox”? Are you particular about brands you use?

My works are divided into several mediums and media. My explorations are independent of the nature of the mediums. For example: once, I explored oil pastels or crayons on paper. After I finished drawing on paper, I glazed it with Watch Paints which  were mixed with quite a lot of  water.

When the works were perfectly dry, the results were beyond my expectation. I also did the explorations on my canvas works. For example: I used raw canvas for oil pastel (medium). The results were different from the paper ones that had smooth surfaces.

There were also some canvas explorations that used transparent methods. Transparent method here is a particular method I applied by laying the acrylic paints with sufficient moisture content layer by layer. This accumulation then formed an object. I also used visual techniques, such as stencils, splashing paints, and many more.

How do you like to unwind outside of the studio?

I commonly go home, take a shower, then watch videos of interviews (about artists). Everything relates to YouTube. When I’m bored with those activities, I prefer hunting sneakers.

Do you have a process for sourcing and/or keeping track of your inspiration?

I always look for inspiration. When I am presented with a new canvas or a paper for an upcoming event, I keep searching for inspiration.

Most artists express themselves creatively as a child, but there is a moment when a shift occurs from just being creatively inclined to being more artistically minded – do you know when that moment was for you?

When I’m bored, I don’t think I’m creative. I always find that it’s hard to think of something creative. Moving from this boredom, I’m required not to be in boredom and have to create something fresh at least for myself. One thing I need to say: creating something fresh doesn’t always generate something new.

Where have you traveled to either work on a mural or showcase your work in a gallery space?

When I visited Art Stage, Singapore. It was the first time I saw the works created by the great artists like Yoshitomo Nara and others who really inspired me to always create the works.

Do you have a favorite destination/wall and why?

This question is the same as the friends’ question: if you were given an opportunity to exhibit your works in the big gallery, which would you choose? I answered: I will display my works in the gallery that invited me today, right now. It means big galleries are definitely the good and favorite ones for me.

I thought I should create a good work for every exhibition that will be held today.

Thinkspace and other big galleries are the galleries I frequently see in Juxtapoz Magazine. From this, I just thought one day I would definitely be there.

What words of wisdom would you share with your past self when you were just starting to show your work/ create murals?

The language of art is the art itself. I have always thought that art is borderless, meaning that art doesn’t need language in it.

Is there anything in your artistic journey that you wish you may have done differently?

I think the artist is a soul who has to see things; and fine art is the instrument I used to express my soul. I’m also interested in exporting the elements outside of fine art. I personally get more interesting ideas when I implement them outside of fine art. Once, I thought about making interior designs with my taste and artistic soul. I even designed my own house with my artistic soul. Many things I should be able to do everyday related to ideas outside of the fine arts.

What did you find to be the biggest challenge of 2020 for you?

My biggest challenge in 2020 was there were a lot of big moments in my career, but I fought my fear of exploration. And yes, this year there are opportunities and new possibilities keep coming. This is against the thoughts that I had believed before.

What is your proudest accomplishment of 2021? Life thus far? (can be art-related or not)

I’m able to explore the simplest things in my head and turn them into the amazing works displayed in several countries.

What big projects do you have coming up in 2022?

The upcoming shows are 3 big solo shows collaborated with several big galleries. The next upcoming project is the labeling RYOL Studio as a company that focuses on producing & branding the side products for the secondary markets. These side products are taken from my own original works.

I will also release some ideas beyond my fine art into an area of design. I named it ORIGINALCOPY as the brand. This is a continuing pure idea of mine, and I will always apply it to products of designs.