Interview with TRNZ for ‘The Weight of Things’ | Exhibition October 7 -October 28, 2023

Thinkspace is excited to present their sophomore show with artist TRNZThe Weight of Things.’ A few years ago, TRNZ developed a fascination with using mundane things and figures, arranged to loom over his work, presenting an awkward mystery. The artist from the Philippines uses ‘The Weight of Things’ to navigate the same process with an exceedingly charged relationship between the figures and the objects surrounding them. Taking cues and motifs from his own memories and experiences, he assembles visual imagery in uncanny ways.

Our interview with TRNZ reveals how he taps into his creative flow, who his creative influences are, and about his fantasy dinner party and guest list.

What themes were you exploring in this body of work? Did you have a piece that was particularly challenging?

A few years ago, I developed a fascination with using mundane things and figures misarranged to loom an awkward mystery over my work.

For this solo exhibition, I carried on the same theme but pushed further the charged relationship between my figures and the objects around them.

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

A day in my studio completely mirrors my work. There’s nothing special when you really look at it on the surface. There’s a cup of coffee, music/podcast in the background, and scattered paint all over. The interesting ideas come up during the lulls, when I remember certain objects, and places from old and try to incorporate them into my work.

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

I just do a lot of biking around the city and recently, I’ve been into Magic the Gathering.

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

My favorite part is thinking of the ideas. The least would be cramming, because I feel like I am stifled when I work so closely towards a deadline. That’s why as much as possible, I really try to work ahead of time.

Who are some of your creative influences? Why do they inspire you?

Recently, I was able to purchase from a book thrift shop a copy of “The New Yorker, 15th Anniversary Cartoon Collection.” It was so inspiring to read it because it was overloaded with wit and irony. It was the right flavor I needed to splash over 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?

Totally unrelated to art but this has been a frustration since I was a kid. I really wanted to be good at street magic. Haha.

What do you hope viewers take away or experience while viewing your work?

Anything really. I’d like to think that my work can be interpreted in a variety of ways just because most of the time, it doesn’t really make sense. As long as I don’t get indifference, I feel like I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish.

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

Collaboration is something that I’ve done and will regularly seek out to do. I did a few now with some local music artists and brands.

An animated short movie is something I’ve been itching to do though.

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?

Lionel Messi, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Tory Belleci, Kari Byron & Grant Imahara from Mythbusters, enjoying Filipino food on the menu.

A very random collection of people I know, but I just thought of the top 5 people I want to meet in real life.

What was in your musical rotation during the development of this body of work?

Her’s, Steve Lacy and Kid Bloom

Interview with FAJAR AMALI for ‘Among Our Existence’ | Exhibition October 7 – October 28, 2023

Thinkspace is excited to present Fajar Amali‘s U.S. debut solo exhibition Among Our Existence which fills the space in Gallery II. The Indonesian artist explores a post-apocalyptic setting, featuring pop figures in the still life painting approach. Seeing how still life painting can bring an impressive depth in various times, Amali views it as a method of recording the momentum of time. Using iconic figures in popular comics as toys in still life style works, Amali explores the worth of things that are often underestimated.

Our interview with Amali shares his rituals to tap into his creative flow, his creative influences, and who he would love to ultimately collaborate with.

What themes were you exploring in this body of work? Did you have a piece that was particularly challenging?

I am very interested to see the essence of Natura Morta or Still Life work, which are simple, deep, and calm. From A-Z I tried to meet it, I used the word “Absence” to tag one of my latest series in translating Nature Morte paintings that are always related to the Latin phrase “Vanitas vanitatum et omnia vanitas.” Thematic in this solo exhibition is very much related to that Latin phrase, finally I used the title ‘Among Our Existence’ as my way of dialogue with the audience. Because, I work in the circle of pop culture and always carry works in the Sci-fi genre such as Post Apocalipse, Robot, Cyberpunk and my habit of including or appropriating popular figures in comics, manga, anime, cartoons that live in the multiver that I built in my previous works. For me, it’s a challenge to translate as an element of natura morta/still life today.

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

Studio is my isolated habitat, I feel like time has stopped in it. It’s a little difficult to manage my daily life, sometimes I get to work for only 15 minutes/day or it can be two days without stopping.

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

I like comics, and I collect a lot of Japanese comics, such as AstroBoy, Akira, Arale, Battle of angela. Even though it’s just looking at the visuals, the comic is my ritual before painting.

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

Buy paint and buy canvas.

Who are some of your creative influences? Why do they inspire you?

Before I knew Arsham, Rembrant van Rijn and Claude Monet are my creative influence to date. No need to question, we can see it. How the two maestros created the magic in his paintings. Arsham I like his perspective in his 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?

Understand people.

What do you hope viewers take away or experience while viewing your
work?

I want them to be honest with themselves. See from what they see themselves. and believe what they believe.

How do you like to enjoy your time outside of the studio? Do you celebrate the completion of a body of work?

Meet humans, listen to them tell stories.

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

Christoper Nolan. I don’t know.

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?

I don’t know, for me all the same, if I can invite a lot of people, why five? And my question to them is “Are you happy tonight?”

What was in your musical rotation during the development of this body of work?

Many, but what I often listen is FLOWER from L’arc en Ciel

Interview with Jolene Lai for ‘Secret Garden’ | Exhibition October 7 -October 28, 2023

Thinkspace is excited to present Jolene Lai for ‘Secret Garden,‘ a collection of oil paintings and drawings that seek to ignite curiosity about the hidden stories we all carry within ourselves. What kind of magical landscape gets unfolded when you gaze out through the window of your soul?

“The unbearable tossing and turning from insomnia in the dead of the night led me to gradually sit up. I got out of bed and walked to the window in the room. The still night was immediately interrupted by flying insects spiraling towards the light from the street lamps outside of my window. From across the street, a flicker of light from another house drew my attention. I could see the silhouette of a woman… I watched her deliberately take long drags on her cigarette, as if she was sucking in the marrow of life. My mind was transfixed by this enigmatic figure that was becoming more familiar with each inhalation, hers and mine. The smoke drifted up into the night air and I traced it with my eyes and imagined that they were carrying along all of her secrets with it. Secrets that I longed to know… I gazed until her silhouette was a blur… I tried to retrace her shape and for a brief moment seized a quick glimpse of her face in my mind again, before that fragment of her faded away. I knew that I would never forget her, the stranger in the night.”

Our interview with Lai reveals who her creative influences are, her dream collaboration, and what was in her musical rotation during the development of this collection.

What themes were you exploring in this body of work? Did you have a piece that was particularly challenging?

During the thought process of creating this ‘Secret Garden’ collection, the 1992 film ‘That Night’ starring Juliette Lewis, kept surfacing in my mind. There is a particular scene of a ten year old girl staring out of her window at night and into a teenage girl’s (Juliette Lewis) window from across where she lived. The child witnesses and attempts to imitate the teenager’s every alluring move of slow dancing to the music that’s playing on the record player, brushing her shoulder length blonde hair and spraying perfume on her neck in front of a spinning fan.

That moment from the film captivated me when I was a kid myself watching it and proceeded to linger in my mind. I wanted to capture the sense of a fleeting moment like that – a place in time wherever one might be, alone in their mind where they are connected with their inner selves.

‘Secret Garden’, which is also the highlight of the collection, was probably the most challenging piece of them all because of the intricate botanical details in the background. I really wanted to emphasize the landscape but at the same time still make sure that the ghostly character of the painting was commanding the utmost arrest.

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

I always try to find something interesting to watch or listen to before I start painting. I only listen to music if I am working at night, so daytime programs often consist of stories that might fuel my imagination. Lately it’s been crime and urban legends of Hong Kong from the early 70s to 80s.

I have to say my working days are pretty routine and I try to approach the day like any 9 to 5 job, clocking in and out to measure how much time I have allocated to each artwork.

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

I am a creature of habit but I don’t think I have a specific ritual when it comes to searching for inspiration. I often reference some random film I’ve seen, or a lit up window at night while I am out walking could spark my curiosity.

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

I do not particularly enjoy the sketching process since I am so meticulous about details even when it is just outlines for oils. But I do love when all is completed because it means I get to throw the first layers of color on a blank surface.

Who are some of your creative influences? Why do they inspire you?

I must have mentioned this before but Wong Kar Wai’s films are still for me timeless and empowering, not just in cinematography but also the writing. His works age like fine wine.

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?

Contortion skills. I have this ache on my left shoulder blade that possibly developed over years from my bad posture while painting. It would be really nice to be able to reach that dull pain with my right hand and give it a good massage.

What do you hope viewers take away or experience while viewing your work?

I try to not have any expectations. I think that hinders possibilities of the work and halts the magic that the viewers themselves create.

How do you like to enjoy your time outside of the studio? Do you celebrate the completion of a body of work?

I try to enjoy the greenery around me when I am out and about. I used to think about work even on my way to get coffee in the mornings, but have recently been putting a curb on that behaviour.

I actually do not have the habit of celebrating when a collection has been completed. Brainstorming about the next idea comes naturally for me.

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

I think a collaboration with a chef would be interesting. It would be a 12 course meal, each dish paired with a complementing artwork. I’m so familiar with painting in vivid colors that I think it would be a challenge to limit the series to nothing but just shades of white. Similarly I think it would be challenging for a chef to come up with a 12 course meal consisting of a limited color palette.

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?

Five people is too big a group for me, I think I would just invite Van Gogh and serve us apple pie with vanilla ice cream. And then ask, “was it really suicide?”

What was in your musical rotation during the development of this body of work?

At the start of this collection, Taiwanese artiste Wu Bai’s 夏夜晚风 (Summer Night Breeze), and towards the end, music from London singer Puma Blue.

Interview with Mark Jeffrey Santos for ‘Uncharted Paths’ | Exhibition August 5 – August 26, 2023

Photo by Birdman

Thinkspace Projects is proud to present Mark Jeffrey Santos‘ (aka Mr. S) U.S. debut solo exhibition Uncharted Paths in our main gallery. His new body of work is based on his personal experiences traveling, creating a body of work that evokes the certain feeling of excitement when you find yourself in a new place. Complete with a dreamlike environment and his wide-eyed characters, Santos is not only technically skilled, but also gifted with the vision to construct imaginary, bordering on surreal, scenes. His characters can often be found on an adventure, accompanied by larger-than-life creatures. Such talent in world-building and character design only comes natural for Santos, who did works in video and film before becoming a visual artist.

Our interview with Mr. S shares his creative influences, which skill he would easily download in his brain if he could, and what he hopes viewers take away/experience while viewing his work.

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

There’s isn’t any specific routine to my workflow. I like to be spontaneous when it comes to my schedule. I noticed that I come up with great ideas when I’m doing mundane tasks. Still, I make sure that I meet the deadlines.

What is your most favorite and least favorite part of the creative process?
Who are some of your creative influences? Why do they inspire you?

Besides the painting itself, my favorite part is solving how to achieve a certain mood in my paintings. I have a lot of influences in terms of painting, but I think Andrew Hem really inspired me to learn how to paint landscapes and understand more about color temperature.

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?
What do you hope viewers take away or experience while viewing your work?

Learn a new language. I want to be able communicate better.
When I paint, I usually like to look at my subjects to have a feeling of calmness in them. And I hope that’s what the viewers would feel when they look at my paintings.

How do you like to enjoy your time outside of the studio? Do you celebrate the completion of a body of work?

I actually do a lot of things. I try to stay away from painting but still try to be creative in other ways. it’s important to live life and be present in the moment because I’d like to think that my art is a representation of my life experiences.

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

I would definitely collaborate with an animator. Seeing my characters to life would be awesome. Think of the movie ‘Kubo.’

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?

No comment. 😅

What was in your musical rotation during the development of this body of work?

My playlist is super random. But usually I listen to korean and japanese musicians like Ovall, Kan Sano, Tsubaki, Sweet william, Nujabes, and yes I listen to Kpop as well.

Interview with Dan Lydersen for ‘Plasticine Dream’ | Exhibition September 2 – September 23, 2023

Photo by Birdman

Thinkspace is excited to present Dan Lydersen‘s ‘Plasticene Dream.’ Taking form as a series of absurdist portraits, sentient still lifes and fanciful visions of inanimate objects come to life, the paintings are filled with strange amalgamations of plastic, clay, and various synthetic and organic materials. They present an odd array of characters whose nature and purpose are ambiguous, open-ended, and enigmatic. Everything is anthropomorphized.

Our interview with Lydersen explores his creative influences, how he spends his time outside of the studio, and his ultimate dream collaborations.

What themes were you exploring in this body of work? Did you have a piece that was particularly challenging?

These are the most conceptually abstract, least literal paintings I’ve ever done so the themes aren’t overt. They’re bubbling a little more under the surface. A lot of the imagery is inspired by my time raising two small children and all of the creative play involved with their toys, clay sculptures, and drawings. So childhood and childlike imagination is a theme. I was also thinking a lot about the idea of a future Plasticene epoch, where synthetic materials become so ubiquitous in the environment that they’re part of the geologic and fossil record. So I started creating the work as a fantastical vision of a future filled with weird organisms made up of various plastics.
The challenge with all of the paintings was deciding when they were finished. All of them were made through a process of improvisational drawing and lots of editing – adding imagery, taking imagery out, moving things around, etc. When you work like that you could spend an eternity on a single painting so you have to constantly measure whether continued editing will be beneficial or if the painting has reached the best version of itself.

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

In the past couple of years all my studio time is at night, staying up late and sacrificing sleep to make art. The lack of sleep is rough but the middle of the night is actually a great time to make art. Zero distractions.

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

Music is an endless source of inspiration for me and I’m always listening to music while I paint. Other than that I just treat art-making like work. I sit down and do it whether I’m feeling creative or not. I find the best way to get your creativity going is to just start making something. A small idea or visual experiment can become a creative feedback loop and lead you to exciting new places.

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

My favorite part is the feeling of infinite possibility when starting a new piece. But that infinite possibility can also be frustrating. There are so many things I want to make that I’ll never have time to. And not just paintings but music, sculpture, animation, you name it.

Who are some of your creative influences? Why do they inspire you?

I love the sheer imagination and weirdness of some of the early Netherlandish painters like Bosch and Bruegel. I love the musical story-telling of artists like Tom Waits and Gareth Liddiard, who paint wild and vivid pictures with words and sound. I’ve also been heavily influenced by live theater which I grew up around and have also worked in recently. Theatricality is always an element in my 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’d love to be a virtuoso multi-instrumentalist. I dabble in a few instruments but to be a true expert at instruments like piano, violin, accordion, or even bagpipes would be a dream.

What do you hope viewers take away or experience while viewing your work?

I like art that transports me to another plane of reality, even if only for a moment. Art that instills in me a sense of wonder and that doesn’t hold my hand too much so that I can take my own unique experience away from it. That’s what I’m trying to provide to viewers of my work.

How do you like to enjoy your time outside of the studio? Do you celebrate the completion of a body of work?

I like exploring the countryside on my bicycle, traveling overseas, going to music shows and live theater. My favorite thing in recent years is this silly Halloween band that I play in every October. We make our own masks and costumes and stage props and write funny songs that we perform as ghoulish characters from the netherworld. It’s very fun.

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

When it’s done right I think that theater is the highest form of art. It has the potential to encompass every art-form into one cohesive piece. I’ve been lucky enough to do scenic painting and animation for some great productions and I’d love to do more of that. My ultimate dream is some kind of pseudo-theater experience that puts as much emphasis on visual art and sound/music as it does acting and narrative. Imagine equal parts black box theater, art-installation, Disney dark ride, and punk rock circus. That’s what I wanna do, whatever that is.

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?

Billy the Kid, Socrates, Sigmund Freud, Ghengis Khan, and Joan of Arc. Just sharing a huge ice cream sundae. I guess I’d just ask them what number I was thinking of.

What was in your musical rotation during the development of this body of work?

Tropical Fuck Storm, The Lonesome Organist, The Damned, TTRRUUCES, The Sloppy Boys, Palm Springs, Calexico, Oingo Boingo, Low, Bob Dylan, A Hawk and a Hacksaw, Springtime… and many many more.