Interview with Dredske for “Grind” | Exhibition on view August 6, 2022 – August 27, 2022

Thinkspace is pleased to present Chicago artist Dredske showing new works for his exhibition “Grind.”

Dredske’s work is an amalgamation of his artistic influences and exploration of mediums to give the viewer a glimpse into the artist’s life and the iconography that marks this moment in time. The work expands on the concept of the self-portrait, exploring instincts within the encapsulation of lifestyle.

Our interview with Dredske discusses the tenants of cultural icons, creative influences, and desired expertise.

For those not familiar with your work, can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I am an artist working in Chicago, born and raised on Chicago’s south side. The main focus of my artistic practice is fine art acrylic painting. However, it’s important to my process to experiment with other mediums and techniques which makes most of my works mixed media pieces. My particular perspective is based on my background in graffiti/street art, traditional drawing and painting, digital art, and illustration.

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

The latest body of work is inspired by my everyday life. It’s an attempt to give viewers a lil more of a glimpse into me as a person and the lifestyle I lead. Past bodies of work focused on so many things and ideas outside of myself (intellectualism); with this new body of work, I wanted to present something more from within (instinct).

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

The most challenging piece was probably the Grinder piece. It was my first time attempting to paint a grinder..it definitely help improve my focus and attention to detail.

What would you deem are the tenants of a distinct cultural icon or iconography?  

First, I think, is sincerity or a sense of genuineness (truth). Next, some kind of iconoclast nature..something new/different about it that challenges the old way. Finally, it has to be relatable. People have to be able to see themselves in it/through it.

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

Getting to the studio as early as possible and having a smoke and then painting all day and night.. sleeping on the floor… wake up…repeat.

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

Music, weed, watching skate vids, reading, doodling, and making notes in my sketchbooks help to get the gears turning.

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

My favorite part is making marks with the paint and seeing what it does. My least favorite part is mixing colors.

Who are some of your creative influences?

There’s a lot. But to name a few: Bjork, James Joyce, Dj Spooky, Robert Rauschenberg, Mode 2, Shirow Masamune, Aphex Twin, Wesley Willis…people like that.

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?

Kung fu and getting bitches..lol

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?

Guest list would consist of: Jiminy Hendrix, Sun-Ra, Henry Miller, Bjork (again), and Sonic Youth (counting whole band as one guest). I would have Red Lobster cater, and the ice breaker question would be, “who wants to smoke some weed?”

The ‘Grind opens on August 6th with a reception from 6 PM to 10 PM.

It will remain on view until August 27th at Thinkspace Projects

Interview with Aof Smith for “Irrepressible Summer Melody” | Exhibition on view August 6 – August 27th, 2022

Thinkspace is pleased to present Thai artist Aof Smith showing new works in his exhibition “Irrepressible Summer Melody.”

Aof Smith illustrates characters that appear inside “human consciousness, boiled with rage and conflicts.” Through the works, Smith explores how “the sound of the violence echoes like the rhythm of the war that gradually erupted quietly in small areas everywhere. “

Our interview with Aof Smith discusses the elements of Greg Carola Simkins and Ron English’s work that inspire him, mindfulness, and diving deeper to expand one’s perspective.

For those not familiar with your work, can you tell us a little bit about your background?

Hi, I am Aof Smith. I was born in Nakhon Si Thammarat which is the southern province of Thailand. I am familiar with art since childhood through a family member that studied fine art, including my father, brother, and sister. My father always teaches me, and he is my main inspiration. My both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees are major in Visual Art. I have had a passion for Lowbrow art since schooling. For over twelve years I worked as an artist, and I currently live in Bangkok with my wife Fay and a cat named Numchok which means Lucky. 

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

I believe that under the ideas of the current society pictures from the media that had been released shows the lives of people living in a normal world. The areas that are seen are safe. But is that really safe? If we accept the truth the sound of the violence echoes like the rhythm of the war that gradually erupted quietly in small areas everywhere. 

“Sound” is one of our five senses which can trigger us to feel many emotions. The music played in the concert atmosphere always brings people to enjoy the rhythm and sound of different musical instruments playing together. If only we could acknowledge that somewhere in this little world, there are people who are triggered by the sound of rage, aggression, and conflicts which construct the uproarious melody of war, parallel with the Sound of music played in the concert and within human consciousness.

In this series, I created characters that appear inside human consciousness, boiled with rage and conflicts. Revealing through the performance together with the sound of music represents the acts of violence people usually do which are the root cause of endless wars of humankind. 

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

All exhibitions are always a challenge for me. Because they all need proper planning to have a group of works complete within the time limit. I want to create quality works in order to communicate my idea of ​​the series as accurately as possible. I imagine of an absolute exhibition and want to make sure it is as good as it should be. This time working with my favorite gallery, reinforces my career as an artist, and it can inspire the next generation to work in a way that they like to have the world appreciate. 

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

My day starts with waking up around 9 am. Collect cat dirt, feed the cat, drink coffee/breakfast, take a shower and be at my studio around 10 am. Starting with new sketches for about an hour a day. After that, I continue with my oil painting until 4:00 p.m. and took a break to cook for my wife. We have dinner and spend the evening time together. I started to work again in my studio around 9 pm, continuing until 4 am on another day. I love to work in the quite night by myself. 

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

I believe in the consequences of action, like Buddhist teachings that often say, “Be good, receive good. Be evil, receive evil,” and with that we keep an eye on our own minds, remembering what we are doing. Live in the present to keep us sane. Mindfulness is important to help me think, analyze, realize, and keep myself in the right place. No less and not too much, just enough to live. My creative thoughts mostly came from my life experience.

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

I like every creative process because every moment has allowed me to create something new for myself. It excites me. I am eager to get it done as the picture shown in my mind. 

You’ve shared that Ron English and Greg Carola Simkins have been creative influences. What elements of their work resonated with you? Do you have a favorite piece from the artists?

I like Ron’s work in terms of ideas on presenting his works in a comparative way, showing society in an ironic manner. Satire, wicked comedy. In terms of visuals, the use of opposite color structures altogether in each piece is remarkable. It excites me every time I see his work. My favorite work is “Ron and Cows.” 

For Greg’s, I like his interest in animals, which is a key element in the concept, since he liked to watch animal documentaries and had a bond with animals from childhood. By tying the story of animals through new characters he created, made many of his works look amazingly realistic in the lands he created. My favorite of Greg’s piece is “The Escape Artist, 2018.” 

Do your paintings provide a catharsis for processing the cruel negative torment in the world? Or do you have other practices that allow you to move through those truths of human existence?

I want to show the vivid and lively character in the first look of my painting. However, by taking more time to stare and consider the content, there are more messages hiding. I think this is same with everything in the world; if people are attracting by superficially, they will only enjoy what they saw. But those who question and take a deep understanding will see more perspective in the same picture. 

What are three elements of Thai culture you think more people should be aware of?

  1. The love for their root. 
  2. The respect for other, a person is free but limited to not dishonoring other. 
  3. Peace.

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 wish I could create the work as quickly as my thoughts; the image shown in my mind usually take quite a time physically. 

The ‘Irrepressible Summer Melody opens on August 6th with a reception from 6 PM to 10 PM.

It will remain on view until August 27th at Thinkspace Projects

Interview with Perez Bros for “Cruise Night 2” | Exhibition on view August 6 – August 27th, 2022

Thinkspace is pleased to present The Perez Bros third solo show and second with the gallery, “Cruise Night 2” an exhibition deeply rooted in their shared heritage–Los Angeles.

 The Perez Brothers were immersed in California lowrider culture from a very young age, their work showcasing the culture to allow viewers a glimpse into the complexities that leave an emotional imprint through each generation, layering exciting subjects with nuanced sentimentality.

The resulting show is a love letter to SoCal–the people, the weather, the whole vibe. With 6 works on canvas and 7 works on paper, the display is varied but the sentiment is constant.

Our interview with the Perez Bros discusses their process, dream car, and their signature WWE move.

What would you define as distinct cultural markers of Los Angeles? Where would you take someone to show them what you love about LA?

For sure a lowrider car show or a cruise night either on Whittier Blvd or in Van Nuys. You can’t get any more L.A. then that.

How many pieces do you work on at a time? Was there a piece in this show that really challenged and stretched you two as artists?

Alejandro: We usually work on one piece at a time. If it’s a big enough piece, we both paint it together at the same time. For smaller pieces, we both paint one separately, then switch off and complete the other one. I would say there were two pieces in the show that really challenged me. “Viva La Raza” was really challenging because it’s our largest piece we’ve ever done, and it’s highly rendered, so it took a long time to complete. “Straight Posted” was a bit challenging too because it was our first time using gold leaf, and it took us a while to figure it out and get it to come up how we wanted it.

Vicente: I agree; working with the gold leaf was really hard and frustrating. We didn’t really get it to work the way we wanted. Also, Viva LA Raza got really challenging for me during the last two weeks of working on it. I caught an infection in both my eyes, and it really affected my vision. I was literally painting blind the last few days.

Are you still on the pepperoni hot pocket kick, or is there another preferred studio snack?

Haha, yes. It is still what we eat in the morning before heading into the studio.

We also snack on chocolate chip chewy bars throughout the day to keep us going.

Listening to music is an essential part of tapping into your creative flow. Are there any newer artists or albums that excite you? Or do you tend to listen to familiar and favorite artists on repeat?

We listen to a lot of different artists and genres, and we usually stick to our favorite artists on repeat. But some newer bands that we’ve been listening to are definitely Tropa Magica and The Crudes.

Have you driven across or visited the 6th St Bridge yet? Do you have any thoughts about what’s currently happening in LA around the bridge? 

A: I haven’t driven across the bridge yet, but I visited when they had the grand opening event. I couldn’t get in, but I saw it from afar on a hill. I think it’s really beautiful; I think it’s funny that people were doing random things in the middle of the bridge, like someone getting a haircut and a banda playing. Los Angeles is just a crazy but dope city.

V:  Yes, driving across it is still something we want to do. Who knows, maybe we’ll see something crazy. Apparently, something different happens there every day.

If you had become WWE tag team champions, would you still be called The Perez Bros? Or need something menacing? What would your signature move look like?

A: If we had made it to the WWE and became Tag Team Champions, we would still be The Perez Bros. Our signature move would probably be something off the top ropes, like a frog splash, to pay tribute to Eddie Guerrero.

V: Yea, we’d still be The Perez Bros. We’re not menacing; we’ll probably be the good guys. I agree; our signature move would probably be from the top ropes. We’re little guys, we probably wouldn’t be able to suplex or body slam anyone.

Can you share a painting technique or piece of knowledge that you feel helped elevate your skills? What advice would you give artists about developing their skills?

A: Definitely doing an underpainting. It really helps figure out all the tones and highlights before we start the actual painting. And also painting in layers helps us build up the contrast. Some advice I would give other artists about developing their skills is just to keep practicing. To try out different techniques and figure out what works best for them.

V: Also, use lots of water. A teacher in high school named Mr. Islas told me once that if you’re working with acrylics to use water, because otherwise, you’d just be painting with plastic. The water helps the paint move more loosely and it also doesn’t dry up as fast. Some advice about developing a skill is to keep practicing and never stop.

Do you have a dream car? How would it be painted and modified?

A: I would really love an impala, but I feel that I’m too short for those. So I would love a 1985 Buick Regal. I would keep it simple. With some Daytons, hydraulics, a simple paint job, and a sick-ass mural on the trunk. Another dream car of mine is a 1969 Ford Mustang. I would just keep that one stock because in my eyes it’s already perfect.

V: My dream car is for sure Eleanor from the movie Gone in 60 seconds. It’s a silver 1967 Shelby GT 500. Ever since I saw that movie at like age 7, I fell in love with it. My dream Lowrider is an Impala; I’m not set on the year yet. Not sure how I’d modify it yet, but it would be horror themed because I’m a huge horror movie fan.

Are there unspoken rules and etiquette at a lowrider car show? Is there a show that you’d recommend to people if they wanted to see the world of your paintings for themselves?

Some unspoken rules at lowrider car shows are don’t touch the cars, just be respectful to everyone, and don’t start any beef. We would recommend the Torres Empire Super Show that happens every year in the convention center here in L.A. Also any cruise night on Whittier Blvd or Van Nuys Blvd; those usually happen on Sunday Nights. Another really cool one is Cinco de Mayo weekend in Elysian Park.

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?

A: Recently I’ve been thinking about learning how to airbrush. It’d be dope if I can airbrush a sick-ass mural on my dad’s 1961 Impala or any lowrider in general.

V: It would be cool if I can translate my thoughts into paintings. Like if I have a thought, I’d just blink, and it would already be a finished painting on canvas or whatever it may be.

The ‘Cruise Night 2’ opens on August 6th with a reception from 6 PM to 10 PM.

It will remain on view until August 27th at Thinkspace Projects

Interview with RYOL for “Ready Known” | Exhibition on view July 9, 2022 – July 30, 2022

Thinkpace is pleased to have presented RYOL‘s exhibition “Ready Known.”

The new body of work reflects his dissatisfaction with reality in comparison to the world he has imagined as a kid watching childhood cartoons. His pop-surrealist artworks are skilfully done, illustrating issues in a patriarchal society, social behaviors, and the fluidity of modern-day gender and gender roles.

Our interview with Ryol discusses the takeaways and curiosities he had after meeting Robert Williams, Kenny Scharf, and Shepard Fairy, along with his fascination with the role pop culture plays in society.

For those unfamiliar with your work, can you share a little about your background and what inspired your artistic pursuits?

I explore a variety of artistic mediums by imitating popular figures from the 1990s and 2000s.

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

My latest works are inspired by my observations of visual arts that I come across on social media or the internet. I see a generation of artists who use social media as a means of expression or simply to display their work, but I also see a slight preference for the visual forms they create. This, in my opinion, is a type of information that is quickly transmitted from one artist to another. The acceleration of information will, to some extent, affect the artistic tendencies of artists. Unlike in the past, when there were no social media, information may be obtained more slowly.

Visual resemblance may become commonplace in today’s world, and it may even become a concept in work. In this exhibition, I incorporate that background into the exhibition’s theme. The title of this exhibition, READY KNOWN, refers to popular forms or momentum that I bring intimately and essentially.

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

I live in a third-world country. Since I was a child, I have been exposed to Western pop culture, including music, cartoons, fashion, movies, and even food. I also learned a lot about American pop art history. I am going to have an exhibition in Los Angeles, and it makes me difficult to sleep because I am going to hold an exhibition where the pop culture that I frequently enjoy is born. And in this exhibition, I present myself as a consumer of pop culture.

What are elements of Indonesian pop culture that are uniquely Indonesian? Or what is an element of Indonesian culture that has the most global pop culture potential?

Pop culture is a popular culture in a society. I believe that Indonesia, a developing country with aspirations to become a developed country, is culturally similar to other developing countries. And I have my own opinions on popular culture. People in Indonesia are very friendly, helpful, and polite, even though queueing and littering can be a problem at times. Many large rivers are clogged with trash.

We also have traffic jams everywhere. Aside from that, I believe Indonesia is known for its diverse culture and strong traditional culture. As an artist, I am fully confident and ambitious that local Indonesian culture can be enjoyed globally, starting with batik, wayang, and local tropical culture that can be enjoyed as a popular product.

How important is experimentation in your creative process?

My creative process undergoes constant change over a predetermined time period. When I am working, my natural filter is my own boredom with what I have created.

When you were in LA, you were able to meet with a few notable artists who have been influential within the new contemporary space. Can you share what those various experiences were like?

When I met Robert William, I was more triggered when he explained his work process. I also had a brief conversation with Kenny Scharf. He added a new reference to my comprehension. With Shepard Fairey, I am curious about how he manages his studio and how he recycles production waste, such as collecting some production waste that he believes can be reused. They mostly have an impact on their respective portions.

If you could collaborate with any artist within any medium (movie, music, writing, etc.) who would you work with, and what would you develop?

First, I want to be able to collaborate on street art projects in every country. Then I would like to work with fashion designers to incorporate their products into my work. Virgil Abloh is one of the fashion designers with whom I would like to collaborate.

How would you describe the evolution of your artistic expression and work over the last three years? What were you exploring and the challenges along the way that informed the evolution?

I am very interested in popular culture. In the last three years, my creative process has been focused on how to process narratives in my visuals by experimenting with existing mediums such as acrylic, oil, and others.

I went through this process for nearly two years. In a certain point, I began to doubt my ability to explore as long as I was working. Finally, I started to consider the essence of the media, medium, and visuals that I chose and used. As in this exhibition, I believe my works are more significant in terms of medium and visual impact. The challenge that I face in the course of my work is delivering ideas in an essential manner.

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 be an expert on what I am doing right now.

Thank you to those who submitted questions for this interview via Instagram

Interview with Sentrock for “Crash Course” | Exhibition on view July 9, 2022 – July 30, 2022

Thinkspace was pleased to present Sentrock’s ‘Crash Course‘ in Gallery III this past July. The exhibition explored the artist’s life right now as a new father living on the West Side of Chicago.

Sentrock uses this collection to find peace in life while everything around us is a struggle, hoping to pass that message on to the viewers.

Our interview with Sentrock explores his creative process, the places that shaped him, and what’s next for the artist.

For those unfamiliar with your work, can you share a little about your background and what inspired your artistic pursuits?

I was born in West Phoenix in a Mexican neighborhood. My first interaction w/ creating art was really art class in elementary school through a guest artist creating a mural for our school. After that, I got into graffiti, and that’s been the route that more or less led me here in my art. Growing up my pop was in and out of prison which has inspired much of my art and bird characters. The concept of freedom through an alter ego like a bird is very interesting to me. 

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

My latest body of work was just a reflection of where my life is at the moment, being introduced to fatherhood, dealing with my daddy issues but also figuring shit out –still reflecting my environment in Chicago and my neighborhood. 

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

I can’t say which piece was the most challenging; I would say being able to explore other concepts outside of my usual character was a challenge. I feel this body was a conscious flow of my art. 

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

Wake up, take care of my baby boy for a couple of hours, jump on my bike and get to a local coffee shop. Get in the studio and start sketching free thoughts, respond to emails and just start getting on a painting that is in the works. 

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

Not really, I should but music and coffee. 

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

My favorite part of the process is getting lost in the sauce. My least favorite part of the process is getting lost in the sauce. Like how far can I go and dive into my art w/o being unsociable, hahaha. Like I like being into my art and losing a sense of reality, but on the other hand, I can lose my sense of responsibility. 

Who are some of your creative influences?

My creative influences are Mexican muralists the big 3, and the way they share messages through culture and art. Also Frida, I mean she really opened up the door for Mexicans to be emo. Also, I like cartoons, The regular show, Simpsons — all that. I feel my art is in the middle somehow ha. 

You’ve worked with many Chicago sports teams, like the White Sox and Bulls; how did those opportunities arrive at your doorstep? What is your favorite sport to watch and support? Favorite sport to play? 

Idk. Chicago loves and I love the city back, so we are all just fans of the city. We are a city of hustlers w/ heart. 

Do you have a mural project in the works? Where can people expect to see your next big wall?

I am currently preparing for my first solo museum show. It’s gonna consist of murals, paintings, and installations. 

Besides Chicago and San Juan – what cities inspire you the most? Or what cities do you want to visit for inspiration? 

The city I grew up in West Phoenix inspired me a lot, it’s the hood my Momma represented when she was younger, so it always has my heart bc of the good and the moments it built me to be someone w heart. 

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 be a filmmaker. I want to share visual stories. I want to learn to write scripts and create movies, like Scorsese. 

Thank you to those who submitted questions for this interview via Instagram