Interview with Hilda Palafox (aka PONI) for ‘Cuando Baja Le Marea (When The Tide Comes Down)’

Thinkspace is pleased to present ‘Cuando Baja Le Marea (When The Tide Comes Down)‘ featuring new work by Hilda Palafox (aka Poni).

Mexico City-based artist Hilda Palafox, also known as Poni, is inspired by love, rain, music, and the feminine spirit. No matter the medium, whether it’s on canvas, paper, linen, ceramic, or adorning a wall, her work portrays the female form weaving together those elements in fresh and uplifting ways.

In anticipation of Cuando Baja Le Marea (When The Tide Comes Down), our interview with Hilda Palafox (aka Poni) discusses the power of femininity, her inspiration behind this body of work, and most rewarding moment of her career thus far.

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

HP: Currently, I work and live in Mexico City, where I am from. I studied design at Escuela de Diseño del INBA (The National Institute of Fine Arts) and later worked as a creative in advertising. I learned a lot but I realized it was not my thing at all. I quit to pursue an artistic career which was something I always had wanted to do. I began doing a lot of editorial illustration then started making and selling my own work, things like prints and ceramics. I started painting some murals, then paintings and eventually got to where I am today. Always learning, growing and experimenting.

SH: Who are some of your creative influences?

HP: I’ve had many creative influences over the years and they’re all very different. Some that come to my mind now are: Carlos Mérida, Niki de Saint Phalle, Ricardo Martínez de Hoyos, Yoshitomo Nara, Tarsiila do Amaral, Agostino Iacurci…

SH: What is the inspiration behind this latest body of work?

HP: Last year a friend of mine gave me a Tarot reading, right were in LA actually. “The Moon” was one of the cards that came up quite a few times, he explained how this card points out things that are hidden and then a lower tide revealed them. I took this to heart and developed the concept for the exhibition; playing with the idea of the tide, the horizon, the symbol of the moon and the things to be found underwater. I visualized the whole body of work as a dance between these elements. 

SH: What was the most challenging piece in the exhibition and why?

HP: Probably the textile piece. I had wanted to do something with this appliqué technique for a long time and it took me some time to find the right fabric and dying it. The sewing was very relaxing once I got it right. I made three different pieces and only one made it to the exhibition. It is a technique inspired in traditional textiles from Panama, Colombia and Africa, I definitely want to experiment so much more with this. 

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

HP: Personally, there is always a moment in the middle of the process where I feel a bit pressured, mainly feeling rushed to finish everything and meet the due date. I would say deadlines are the least enjoyable part. At the same time, I am kind of grateful about this rush because it makes me work harder. Let’s be honest, sometimes we all need that. 

SH: You’ve traveled the world through your work, what is one of your favorite cities (outside of your home) and why has it captured your heart? 

HP: I really like Madrid, probably because it was the first city I traveled to on my own, outside my country. Last year I went back there for work and it was just like I remembered it. I love the old/new city vibe.

SH: How would you describe the inherent power and need for femininity to a person who has only existed in a masculine world? What do you think are the positive attributes of the masculine?

HP: I think the feminine power has always exemplified this need or want to overcome things. In my work I want to show women that have gone past their limit, I want to show this place that we physically, energetically, and intellectually fill in the world. Although my work is not masculine at all, cosmologically there has always been a balance between these two forces, it is not so much like this now. In my work the feminine is taking over to restore the balance, the masculine should use the power and strength it is known to have and direct it inwards and absorb some femininity. 

SH: Favorite thing you’ve watched, listened to, and ate in the last 30 days? 

HP: Paranoia Agent, an anime from 2005, it’s very cool. I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts for the first time, I am kind of new to this. Some of my favs are The Art Angle and the first and only season of Recording Artists and Radio Juxtapoz. And eating, I made this ultra-simple cold lemon pie made with these store-bought cookies. I hadn’t made one in years and ended up eating the whole thing in like a day. Loved it. 

SH: What is the most rewarding moment thus far in your art career? How about your life?

HP: I think it probably was when I did my first artistic residency two years ago, in Japan. It was very revealing to me in terms of what I wanted to express with my work and where I wanted to direct it towards. It was also my first solo exhibition ever, very far away from home. I’m so grateful for the whole opportunity, I grew a lot and became so much more aware.

SH: If you could be on a zoom call with 5 people dead or alive who would they be? What would be the ice breaker question? 

HP: Haha, mmm… I don’t know, maybe Trish Keenan, Gertrude Stein, Geles Cabrera, Modigliani, and Prince? I would probably ask something like: What are you drinking right now?

Online Schedule of Virtual Events:

Saturday, May 2 at 12:00 noon pacific time we will post our professionally shot video tour of both our May exhibitions to our Instagram TV

Saturday, May 2 from 1-2PM pacific time we will go live on our Instagram Stories to tour both exhibitions, have a bit of fun, giveaway some stuff and answer some questions

Sunday, May 3 at 2pm pacific time we will post a full set of photos from both exhibitions to our Facebook and blog

Monday, May 4 at 2PM pacific time we will share a link to our self-guided virtual tour of both exhibitions on all of our social networks (links to all below)

Monday, May 4 at 4 PM pacific time we will debut ‘Magic Mondays’ with our close friend WORM who will wow us all with his sleight of hand magic and feats of wonder. He really is a mind-blowing magician and we think it will be fun to share with you all. Looking forward to having this be a weekly featuring during our li’l pandemic lockdown and we’ll always give a li’l look at both shows as well

Interview with Kayla Mahaffey for ‘Deconstructed’

Thinkspace is pleased to present Deconstructed featuring new work by Kayla Mahaffey.

Mahaffey’s unique blend of illustrative elements with brilliant photo-realism has made her a sought after artist. Her work giving a voice to the unheard stories of contemporary youth and, as explained by the artist, “serves as a guide to bring hope back into our daily lives by cherishing each moment not in the mindset of an adult, but with the fresh eyes and imagination of a child.” 

In anticipation of Deconstructed, our interview with Kayla Mahaffey explores her favorite cartoons, who she’d want to jump on a Zoom call with, and her creative process.

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

KM: I was born in1994 in Chicago, IL on the southside. My style and subject matter has evolved over the years to something I can say that I’m extremely proud of. These portraits connect with me personally through my own experiences of my childhood and by the many people I’ve come across in my life. My style is a juxtaposition of rendered figures and portraiture with 2d elements (like cartoons).  My topics range from mental health and society issues, to the trials and tribulations of our youth, that are mashed up perfectly with a colorful backdrop to tell the story from. 

SH: What is the inspiration behind this latest body of work?

KM: My inspiration for my new body of work came from something I’m very passionate about, mental health. All of the paintings are about the idea of unraveling our thoughts and peeling down the layers of our mind to find the cause of what’s internally affecting us.  Strings, ribbons, twines, etc. acted as the glue to bind or secure the figure from coming undone and to show how fragile we can be at times. 

SH: What was the most challenging piece in the exhibition and why?

KM: The most challenging piece of the exhibition has to be “Bind.” It wasn’t necessarily the hardest painting process, but figuring out how I wanted the composition planned out and what feeling and visual I wanted to convey did lead to many difficulties.

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

KM: My favorite part of my process would be the sketching phase and lining stage.  Making thumbnails in the beginning of every painting always gets me excited to create each future painting and helps me envision the final product. While outlining the 2d elements happens closer to the final stage. It can be very therapeutic and really ties everything together in the end.

My least favorite part of the process would be filling all the solid colors in my 2d elements. It can be very time consuming and tedious. Especially when you want the colors to be completely opaque and saturated. I feel like I’m doing paint by numbers, which can be truly mind-numbing. 

SH: Who are some of your creative influences?

KM: Kerry James Marshall and James Jean

SH: Why is it that in some work we only see the whites of people’s eyes? Is there a symbolic difference between those who do and don’t have their iris painted?

KM: My older paintings mostly had figures with white eyes. It was most prevalent in adult figures but was featured on a few kids from time to time. This represented those who were ignorant to the truth and oblivious to what was happening around them. They were spiritually lost but searching in all the wrong places. 

Including white eyes is all in the past for my newer paintings, but it may or may not have a comeback. It almost represents a kind of revelation amongst the figures as if they’ve not only found a new purpose, but also a new path. They can see what is going on around them and know now how to move forward.

SH: Your work has such playfulness in it and a love of shapes, colors, patterns – What were some of your favorite cartoons growing up? What’s a favorite game you love or loved to play?

KM: My favorite cartoons growing up was anything Warner Bros., Sailor Moon, Power Puff Girls, Dexter Laboratory, and Scooby-Doo. My go-to games back in my day was anything Mario or Super Smash Bros. related.

SH: We are in the middle of a global pandemic, it’s an unprecedented time, and it’s a weird time – What is your approach to life during this time? Are you sticking to routines, or making it up as we go? What does quarantine life look like for you?

KM: During these rough times, I’m just doing what I do best — making art and staying indoors. I’ve always been a home-body and that still hasn’t changed much. I wake up, get ready, eat some breakfast, exercise, stay hydrated, and binge shows while painting.  My schedule has stayed pretty much the same. I would say for those looking on ways to approach these unprecedented times, stay healthy, stay positive, and cherish those around you that you hold dear. 

SH: Favorite thing you’ve watched, listened to, and ate in the last 30 days?

KM: My favorite thing I’ve watched in the last 30 days was the start of season 3 of Westworld.  Recently, I’ve been listening to two artists Bree Runway and Moses Sumney on repeat. My favorite thing I’ve eaten recently has to be my mom’s salmon croquettes. 

SH: What is the most rewarding moment thus far in your art career? How about your life?

KM: Bringing a new idea to life and creating a new piece is the most rewarding aspect of my work. When we find our own voice in art, we experience the pure joy of exploration and creativity, and are able to share the final product with the world.

SH: If you could be on a zoom call with 5 people dead or alive who would they be? What would be the ice breaker question?  

KM: If I could zoom call with 5 people they would be…

 Kerry James Marshall, Nelson Mandela, Michelle Obama, Robin Williams, and lastly My late grandma –  to tell her that I’m doing fine and doing many great things.

The ice breaker would be – What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Online Schedule of Virtual Events:

Saturday, May 2 at 12:00 noon pacific time we will post our professionally shot video tour of both our May exhibitions to our Instagram TV

Saturday, May 2 from 1-2PM pacific time we will go live on our Instagram Stories to tour both exhibitions, have a bit of fun, giveaway some stuff and answer some questions

Sunday, May 3 at 2pm pacific time we will post a full set of photos from both exhibitions to our Facebook and blog

Monday, May 4 at 2PM pacific time we will share a link to our self-guided virtual tour of both exhibitions on all of our social networks (links to all below)

Monday, May 4 at 4 PM pacific time we will debut ‘Magic Mondays’ with our close friend WORM who will wow us all with his sleight of hand magic and feats of wonder. He really is a mind-blowing magician and we think it will be fun to share with you all. Looking forward to having this be a weekly featuring during our li’l pandemic lockdown and we’ll always give a li’l look at both shows as well

Interview with Carlos Ramirez for ‘A Faster Hallelujah’

Thinkspace is pleased to present A Faster Hallelujah featuring new work by Carlos Ramirez in our project room.

This exhibition perfectly illustrates Ramirez’s evolution as an artist. His oeuvre remains alluring and magical while simultaneously offering satirical commentary on political and social issues on behalf of the oppressed.

In anticipation of  A Faster Hallelujah our interview with Carlos Ramirez explores his inspiration for the exhibition, artistic influences, and an album cover he wishes he could design.

SH: For those that are not familiar with you and your work, can you give us a brief look at your artistic background and how you came to meet our curator and co-owner Andrew Hosner?

CR: Initially, before working and coming to Los Angeles, I lived and worked in the Coachella valley. It’s where I was born and raised and became a self-taught artist. I eventually ventured out and began working with galleries in Los Angeles like New Image Art and Ace Gallery, Jonathan Levine Projects in New York, and a few in London like Pow.

I believe the first time I met Andrew was around 2005. We eventually worked together, when I took part in an exhibition at Thinkspace Gallery titled ‘New Blood’ in 2012 curated by producer Morgan Spurlock .

SH: What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work?

CR: The inspiration for my latest work – I think is inspired or compelled by an internal and personal dialogue or discussion, I think most of us are having around this social and political climate. The American fabric seems to be forced into fraying by its own doing. America finds itself forced into drawing social and even racial lines in some unfortunate cases, and those lines become more defined the longer it goes on.

 I have a sense of duty as an artist, and for me to not say or question anything – for me that would be almost sinful.

SH: Who are some of your creative influences?

CR: There are so many it’s hard to narrow down, but some of my earliest influences were from people I didn’t even know. Early influences came through prison letters sent to family members containing some of the most amazing art I had ever seen. Then later on in life artist like Francisco Toledo to Ai Wei Wei … there are just too many.

SH: Did you have an art mentor at the beginning of your career?

CR: Unfortunately besides my 8th-grade art teacher not really, unless you can consider the hood mixed with a little reality as a mentor.

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

CR: My favorite part of the creative process would have to be the learning experiences and the journey’s they’ve created. Not that it’s bad, but my least would have to be staying disciplined and approaching it like an 8 to 5 .

SH: Is there a particular piece in this exhibition you feel really challenged you?

CR: Yes there is a couple but it’s a smaller piece that challenged me emotionally ‘Your Hood’, for some reason that piece kept pissing me off. I think the fact that the subject matter is still relevant in 2020 just blows my mind.

SH: If you could make an album cover for any musical artist, who would it be?

CR: I’ve already worked with some awesome people in the music industry like Primus, Joe Jonas, Brant Bjork formerly of Kyuss , John Garcia, and a few others but I think even though he’s no longer with us, and if I had a choice –  it would be Gil Scott-Heron.

SH: If you could download any skill into your brain, Matrix-style, what would you want to instantly learn?

CR: Where is the power source .

SH: Would you rather be able to talk to animals or read people’s minds?

CR: Even though it might be a lil scary to know what animals think of us, I’d have to always go with the animals. 

SH: If you could have dinner with 5 people dead or alive, who would they be and what would you be eating?

CR: With my semi twisted thinking I would have to say Ghandi, Richard Ramirez , Dr. Kevorkian , Nostradamus, and John Lennon to compare notes and we’d be eating THC edibles.

Interview with Huntz Liu for ‘Subtraction’

Thinkspace is pleased to present Subtraction featuring new work by Huntz Liu in our project room.

Liu’s compositions are comprised of shapes that sit on different planes, creating literal depth, while the composition itself creates a perceived depth. It is this intersection of the literal and perceived that informs the work; where the absence of material reveals form and the casting of shadow create line.

In anticipation of Subtraction, our interview with Huntz Liu expands on our previous talk with the artist and dives into Matrix downloads and where he would take Bruce Lee to dinner.

SH: In our previous interview with you, you had said that you source a lot inspiration from architecture and interior spaces. Can you tell us what some of your favorite buildings or spaces maybe?

HL: Of buildings I’ve been: Salk Institute, Bauhaus Dessau, Getty Center, Musée d’Orsay.

SH: Do you buy your colored paper in bulk for multiple works to be made at the same time or just the paper you need for one piece? Can you share with us a picture of how your paper is stored/organized?

HL: I buy and store paper in bulk. My studio can definitely pass as a paper store.

SH: How many exacto-blades do you go through in a month?

HL: I would say roughly 50 blades.

SH: Did or do you have an artistic mentor?

HL: No, I’ve never had one.

SH: Are you a coffee or tea person? How do you prepare it? Do you have a favorite brand of it?

HL: Coffee for sure. I just burr grind and brew with a basic machine. Not too picky about coffee roasters.

SH: If you could make an album cover for any musical artist, who would it be?

HL: Probably Beck.

SH: If you could download any skill into your brain, Matrix-style, what would you want to instantly learn?

HL: I would download the skill of being able to maintain a consistent meditation/mindfulness practice. Maybe that’s just discipline.. is discipline a skill?

SH: Would you rather be able to talk to animals or read people’s minds?

HL: Read people’s minds.

SH: If you could have dinner with 5 people dead or alive, who would they be and what would you be eating?

HL: Bruce Lee, Kanye, Nefertiti, Elliott Smith, and Duchamp.. getting our hands dirty at a Boiling Crab.

Studio Visit with Carlos Ramirez in anticipation of “A Faster Hallelujah”

A studio visit with Carlos Ramirez for his upcoming solo exhibition “A Faster Hallelujah” that will open on Saturday, April 4 via our website and blog for online viewing.

Ramirez’s work is a multi-cultural mix of old and new, layered with socio-political ideas, street aesthetics, and pop iconography. After many years of collaborating and receiving international recognition as one half of The Date Farmers, Carlos is continuing to forge a new chapter as a solo artist and we could not be more honored to be working with him.

Video courtesy of Birdman