Interview with Roby Dwi Antono for ‘Epos’

Thinkspace is pleased to present ‘Epos’ from surrealist painter Roby Dwi Antono who is based out of Yogyakarta, Indonesia. His visual language forms connections between classical renaissance paintings, futurism, and fantasy, drawing inspiration from science fiction and natural history.

In anticipation of ‘Epos’, our interview with Roby Dwi Antono dives into how he utilizes vague memories of the past for inspiration and translating abstract thought into cohesive compositions.

Please note English is not Roby Dwi Antono’s first language and the interview has been left mostly unedited to keep the integrity of the artist’s voice.

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

My interest in art has been around since I was a kid. Of course, at that time I didn’t understand what art was. I just love scribbling the walls of my house. And it was still well preserved until I was in high school. I studied art, but not from formal education. So you could say I was self-taught. I’m not an academic. After graduating from high school, I decided to work as a layout designer for a printing/advertising company. My job is to prepare everything that will go through the printing process. In 2011 I moved to work at the school yearbook company.  I am working on the page layout design and also the illustration for the cover. I developed my skill manual or digital. Learn and practice using Adobe Photoshop for making digital illustrations or photo manipulation. Because of my childhood interest in the world of drawing, I still take the time to make drawings on paper and digital drawings between working hours. In my spare time, before starting or after finishing work in this office, I am used to working in an idealistic way. Then I get more serious about continuing to study arts. Almost every morning before starting work, I make a drawing in my sketchbook, a kind of visual diary. Then I posted my picture on my personal blog and Facebook (at that time there was no Instagram) haha. Then in 2012, I got an offer to present my work in a solo exhibition at a new small artspace in Yogyakarta. I show my little drawings here. From this show, there are appreciations from visitors for my work. Some of my works began to be collected by young collectors.

What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? What themes and ideas/idioms were you exploring?

This exhibition is my attempt to visit the memories that appear on the surface to dive into those buried deep in the bottom. It is not an easy thing to retrieve all memories, gather and organize them in a neat and timely order when they were born. Pieces of memory scattered in the middle of the map were piled up in the corner of the room. Maybe they really are not forced to be sequential and trace but random and not even traceable. The past that can be both good and bad.

EPOS is a kind of traditional literary work that tells stories of heroism. These epics are often stated in verse. Some examples of famous epics are Ramayana, Mahabharata etc. There is always balance, good and bad. Of course my childhood heroes were fictional 90’s characters. They are the things that provide a strong emotional bond. Whenever I feel lonely and have bad events, their presence will give me peace. Sometimes I even wish to be them.

Past memories are very influential in this creation process. Childhood figures that are deeply imprinted in emotional memories will be very interesting for me to re-draw into the work. There are many characters that I remember from various movies or cartoon series (Japanese and American) when I was a child. Like, for example, the old-school Kaiju in the Ultraman or Godzilla/Dinosaurs series. I think the kaiju have a strange physical form, they are like created from several combined creatures, whether animals or plants are modified into one whole creature which in my opinion is a pretty cool thing.

In this effort to dive into memories, I chose to try to look back one by one in the past from simple, trivial, and insignificant memories to very emotional memories. Then process this random memory and then present it into a visual language that might give birth to new meanings and feelings from the fragmented pieces of memory, whether it becomes simple or becomes even more complex and complex. On the way, this activity of remembering took me by and dragged my memories mostly toward the house, more specifically to the Family.

One by one the memories that I managed to capture were captured and broken down into details that may or may not be accurate. And that all open an assumption that the past that I experienced had a huge impact on me in the present. These memories are the accumulations of past human experiences that have always been the root of present and future events. Something that we do, even as a small child, can play a big role in our lives today. Time will continue to pass. Humans are always faced with worries and fears of a future that is always a mystery.

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

What’s most challenging is how I try to remember vague memories every day. It’s not easy to remember bad things or past trauma. But either way. We must always accept everything that has happened to us and always try to take wisdom and goodness to face a future that is always a mystery. Always do good things so that we also receive goodness in the future. This thought made me aware and hopefully will make me grow into a better person. This is a reminder for me to be kind.

Your work has been described to invoke elements or similarities to that of Mark Ryden and Yoshitomo Nara, how do you feel being grouped in with such notable figures in the new contemporary art scene?

I don’t really think about it. They are great people who really inspire me. If there is a visual similarity in my work to theirs, I think that is a very natural thing. I never denied that, I took it well. But of course we want to convey a different message and narrative. Because we are different people, we live in quite different eras of course experiencing different things too.

Who are some of your creative influences? And how have they helped you shape your own artistic voice?

Many influences have had an impact on my own artistic voice in my work. I think the people closest to me have a lot of influence. Day by day — all the experiences I have are the greatest. I’m a visual person. I’ve always liked to enjoy playing with visuals.

What is a day in the studio like? Do you have any rituals that help you tap into a creative flow?

My studio is always quiet, I work alone. I don’t have any special rituals. Usually, I make tea before I start painting. I feel very comfortable starting painting in the morning and finishing in the afternoon. The morning air is very relaxing and I still have enough energy after waking up. Also because I like the sunlight when working in comparison to the lamplight. So, my productive time is in the morning to evening. Usually, I do the drawings at night after I finish painting on a large canvas.

Can you share what your favorite materials are to work with, from the notebooks, you sketch ideas down into the paint and brushes that are in your toolbox?

I used to work by making a few rough sketches in a sketchbook then I scanned it and processed it in Photoshop. Or sometimes from sketching on paper I immediately move to canvas. The creatures and figures that are created and appear in my paintings are a combination of both, real people and imagination. But I think imagination takes a bigger portion. I like to modify the original characters into something new, can be beautiful, or become broken and strange. In designing these creatures, I usually look for and collect image references or photography of two or more characters, then I let my imagination work on processing by adding or subtracting certain parts. I feel that all materials have their own joy. I always feel challenged to use new mediums. Oil paints, watercolors, pencils, soft pastels, spray paint, charcoal, I love all of that.

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

What I love most about the creative process is finding the unexpected while painting. Usually I already have a picture in my head of the visual that I will paint on the canvas. But when I do something accidental and come up with something new and interesting, I feel really good.

What I don’t like the most about the creative process is that when I am painting, I suddenly get distraction and I have to stop the painting process. It really sucks.

Your work has a lot of surrealist elements. Are you a vivid dreamer? And do any of the ideas for your compositions come from dreams?

Sometimes I get it from my dreams while sleeping. Even though I don’t remember them well and don’t accurately reflect them, I will make rough sketches of the characters and settings that appear in the dream so that I don’t forget them. Usually the characters and settings that appear in dreams are strange, illogical, and very abstract shapes and colors. But it is very interesting for me to translate it into a visual form. Of course, I add and subtract them according to my imagination. That’s an interesting thing for me. It is like giving souls to dream world beings. But in some works, I get them by looking at references from other artists or also from strange characters in films, old photos that I find on the internet, and many other sources that have had a lot of influence on my work. I really like to collect my memories from the past randomly and then combine them into one shape that might represent a different meaning from the original form.

On view: February 6, 2021 – February 27, 2021

Tour The Exhibit

Interview with Edith Lebeau for “Certain Scars Can’t Be Seen”

Thinkspace is pleased to present ‘Certain Scars Can’t Be Seen’ from Canadian artist Edith Lebeau.

Edith’s work is focused on mental health awareness. She tells stories through the portraits that she creates.

Lebeau is exploring through the eyes of different woman characters, the various fears and dark emotions that we have in the deepest recesses of our mind. She paints female figures who are facing their own insecurities. These women are left alone with these feelings and fears that we ourselves try to forget and try to bury. 

In anticipation of ‘Certain Scars Can’t Be Seen’, our interview with Lebeau reveals the symbolism in her work, a silver lining to anxiety, and her favorite demon hunters.

For those not familiar with you and your work, can you tell us a little bit about your artistic background? How did you come to work with Thinkspace?

Of course! I’ve always been artistic since I can remember. I studied visual arts and had my Bachelor degree at UQAM here in Montreal. I officially started to show my works in galleries in the US and Internationally in 2009. I did many group shows through the years with wonderful galleries and artists. I’ve been wanting to work with Thinkspace for a good while because I loved your shows and the energy of the gallery and your artists. I started to show my work with Thinkspace in group shows a couple of years ago and I’m very excited for my solo next month!

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

My work is about mental health. This series of painting is once again centered around characters who are going through things. They all have their own journey, their own issues, their own fear and tiny victories like we all do. 

A lot of this show is about our past that often leaves scars if we let it. All of us have our own baggages and deal with it in our own way. 

This body of works includes pieces that go from girls who start to deal with mental illness and phobias at a young age to 30 something women who are dealing with issues due to their past. Some of the themes explored are depression, phobias, fear of going mad (a reoccurring theme), acceptance, small victories/ overcoming certain issues, and hope.

I hope to help break down the stigma surrounding mental illness with my work. 

”Empathy is always the key. Don’t judge, listen.”

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

I think my most challenging piece is “Don’t let madness define you“. It was not challenging from the start. It was not the details nor theme. It just happened along the way. I finished it a first time. Then started to work on another piece. But everytime I finished another piece I kept looking at that one and there was always something that was missing or did not work that I could not figure out. I had to fade the background and brighten the colors. Then later I was still not happy with it. I had to redo the waves, then contrast. I think I reworked it at least 4-5 times. 

Oh it helped me grow alright! 

Learning to let go is quite a challenge for me. But seriously yes. Reworking a piece and practice makes you better. It really does. It also helped me to realize the importance to take a step back more often while working on a piece.

In other interviews, you’ve shared your work has helped you cope with different anxiety disorders. Anxiety and other mental health issues do not define a person, but very much can be one part of their whole, how do you think anxiety has influenced your life in a positive way?  Do you see any positive aspects?

Oh boy, that is quite a question. 

At first it was only negative to tell the truth. It’s not an easy thing to deal with. Anxiety disorders, Phobias and Panic attacks are the worst, but once I got to work with it, been able to identify the triggers, learned about it and myself and took a step back, yes there was something positive because it forced me to work on myself. I grew a lot and know myself way better. I still have to deal with it in my everyday life but on a smaller degree. 

Anxiety has also influenced my work for sure in a positive way as it inspired me to talk about mental health through my work. I know I’m not alone dealing with this and if my work can help someone in pain not feeling alone then it’s a good thing too. 

Who are some of your creative influences? And how has their work shaped you as an artist?

I don’t know how it shaped me, but the artist who has influenced my work the most is not a painter. It’s Tori Amos, especially through her music videos and all her music video directors I guess. She’s always had a certain aesthetic in her videos that spoke to me in the 90’s and that helped shape my own aesthetic and the way I tell stories through my work. Her music has influenced me a lot too of course. As for painters, there is one painting that’s been haunting me since I first saw it. Its “Christina’s world” by Andrew Wyeth. I know that some people hate it and other find it cliché to name that one but I dont care. For me that’s it. The perspective is kinda weird but there is an ambiance to that piece. I can hear the wind on the grass/ wheat. There is a solitude that I just love about it. That’s probably the piece that has influenced my work. 

What is a day in the studio like? Do you have any rituals that help you tap into a creative flow?

I have a routine. I get up late and have lunch. I go to my studio around 1:30 pm, light a candle ( probably the only ritual I have since I moved in my new home) then paint until dinner. After dinner, I go back to the studio and continue to work depending on how the piece has progressed that day. That’s for the painting part.

For the sketches part, it’s an entirely different routine. I contact all my models and get all my references for the show. Then I make all my sketches sitting under a blanket on the couch in front of the tv in my home. I draw while listening/ distantly watching something I already know by heart and is comforting. It’s the cocooning part of my process. 

So sketches on the couch and painting in the studio. 

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

My favorite part is painting, the idea is already planned. I mostly execute and it’s a tad therapeutic at times. I just go with the flow and the colors are pretty much instinctive. I also love the sketching part and finding the theme for each piece. 

The part I hate: VARNISH. Its better now but I still find it very stressful.

Are your parents artistic? If so, what advice have they given you about pursuing a career and living a life in the arts?

Yes they are. My dad studied art a bit when he was younger but never pursued it full time. He had so many mediums to work with in the basement when I was a kid! He would sit with me and we would paint or draw together during the weekends. I have very fond memories of these times. My parents did encourage me to study art. They have been very supportive even if I did not know exactly what I was doing. 

Your work tends to have reoccurring symbols or backdrops, like the ocean, beetles, or a house on fire — Could you share with us what these symbols mean for you, or are they meant to be left up for interpretation?

Yes, I do have a lot of symbolism in my work and developed kind of my own mythology with time. Since my work is about mental health these symbols are there to reinforce the theme of each pieces. Sometimes the symbols have different meanings too. I usually let the viewer create their own narrative. I think we all see art with what we’ve got, what we’ve been through, and mirror it with what we know. So the meaning can be different for everyone. However, I love to put symbols to give hints of the story I created. So here we go:

First, The Ocean. It represents the fear and the unknown. Sometimes my characters face it but most of the times they don’t. They looking or facing the viewer and have the ocean on their back. For me the ocean is not something I fear but every time there is a large body of water or the ocean there is fear linked to it. There is something that I fear at the bottom.

Second, Beetles. Those represent the mental illness or mental health. There is an expression here in Quebec “Avoir des bébittes dans la tête,” which would translate to have bugs in the head. It means you’re crazy, it does not go well in your head or you have bugs in the brain. 

Sometimes the characters are invaded by bugs and sometimes they hug a big one. The first example: the character would fear her own mental illness. The second example: the character would take care of it and embrace it. 

At last, the house on fire. 

The houses in my works have 2 meanings but in this case the house in my painting represents the self, the core. The fire, well, fire does what fire does. So the house on fire means the character is in pain mentally.

I also use small houses in certain pieces to talk about homelessness, when talking about the need for a loving home and when talking about foster care.

If you could have dinner with five fictional characters, who would they be, what’s on the menu, and what is the ice breaker question? 

Buffy Summers, John Constantine, Vanessa Ives, and Sam and Dean Winchester.  What’s for dinner: Crusted Salmon, pie, and macaroons. Ice breaker:  “I thought you all should meet! I know most of you are loners but you’d be a great team…So. Hum…What do you do for fun when you are not fighting demons?”

Interview with Leon Keer

Dutch artist Leon Keer’s anamorphic paintings hung in the Brand Library last year for NEXUS III, and are currently on view for our inaugural exhibition Aloha, Mr.Hand. Keer comments on society, cultural issues, and the environment by creating narratives with familiar objects that force us to re-examine how we interpret the world around us. Below is our interview with Keer discussing the inspiration behind his most recent pieces with us, getting into a creative flow, and Funky Fridays.

What was the inspiration behind the body of work that will be showing at the Brand Library & Art Center?

The freedom of speech is the most important right in our constitution, the way demonstraters are being chased and hammered down in many countries is an annoyance for me. Also, I find the abuse of power a tricky issue. You see it on the street on a small scale. You see it on large scale in political decisions, both in developed and underdeveloped countries. I am not a speaker, but I feel inspired to make a visual story about the abuse of power. When a certain group of people is demonized, I denounce the situation. 

Do you have any pre-studio rituals that help you get into a creative flow?

I mostly travel by bike to the studio. Takes me half an hour in where I soak in all the energy around me. That’s what I also do when I am abroad. I scout the neighborhood to find the energy for the next work

When you were working on this body of work, what were you listening to in the background? Do you have a different soundtrack for the various stages of the creative process? 

There is a variety of music I listen to. The broadcasting station I listen to has a variety of music, games and interviews. I like this variety as I get bored very fast if I listen to too much of the same music.

One program on that radio station that I like most is ‘funky friday’ which will bring you to the smooth funky music of the early 90 ties. 

Is there an artist or piece of work that has made a significant impact on you? Has that work influenced your own artistic voice/style? 

I really love the work of Leandro Erlich. The grandness of his work and the way he is putting the spectators to another dimension of reality.I love the work of Leandro Erlich. The grandness of his work and the way he is putting the spectators to another dimension of reality are very inspiring

What piece challenged you most in this body of work, and why?

The piece Withered Bauhinia was most challenging to make. The background tells the story that many Hong Kong people took to the streets to protest against the ruling power for the sake of democracy. People are left with the choice of either staying home and keeping their opinions to themselves, or attending an unauthorized protest and risking police violence, judgment, and imprisonment. To underline this thought of oppression makes me humble towards these protesters and obliges me to approach the situation with honor and respect.

What do you think will be said about the New Contemporary Art Movement in 100 years?

An era of reflections of the people’s voice.

Schedule a visit to see Leon Keer’s work and the other talented artists in “Aloha, Mr. Hand” here. Masks required!

Interview with Kyle Bryant for upcoming exhibition ‘Out of Many, One’

Thinkspace is pleased to present ‘Out of Many, One’ from Kyle Bryant.

A graduate from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Bryant has been perfecting his special brand of what he refers to as “Present Surrealism,” an aesthetic bordering on the edge of a believable reality.

A fine artist focusing on woodcut printmaking, Bryant recently took his oeuvre into a new direction, by adding layering and dimension to his wood-carved works.

In anticipation of ‘Out of Many, One’, our interview with Bryant dives into his artistic orgin story, the symbolism of his birds, and a look into the heart of a hopeless romantic.

For those unfamiliar with your work, can you share a little about your artistic background and how you became connected with Thinkspace Projects? 

I got into art through skateboarding and graffiti. I grew up in a small town in Maine so it wasn’t long before I got caught. The cop who caught me, knew me to be a “good kid” already so he put me on this unofficial probation where I had to take art classes in high school. I’m super grateful for that because art class let me feel like I finally belonged somewhere. 

At 18 I quickly left that town and went to Mass Art in Boston where I studied printmaking and worked as a bike messenger.  After college I focused mostly on woodblock printmaking because I didn’t need equipment for that. I moved to Brooklyn for a short period, lived in a vegan straight edge warehouse that wasn’t zoned for residential and paid my rent by screenprinting posters for hardcore shows.

My story is long and all over the place, but to make it short, I’ve moved 27 times, never really felt home anywhere. I did an artist residency in Berlin, Germany where I really developed my style. Moved back to Maine where my studio was an uninsulated attic. I would sweat on my woodblocks in the summer, and wear gloves and a north face to work in the winter, but I was in the studio every day. 

At one point I met a Portuguese girl and moved to Europe with her. I did a new woodcut print inspired by Barcelona for every month that I was there.

After Barcelona I was really lost and considering where my life was headed. I moved to Rocky Mountains, took a job as a photographer so that I could fulfill my lifelong dream of snowboarding in the Rockies, and then moved to Denver. I hated living in Denver and got caught up in some stuff that wasn’t benefiting me.

Eventually my life fell apart so I bought a 1986 VW Vanagon, built a little art studio / home in it and wandered around the western states of the US. It was when I was living my van that I came up with the idea of stepping away from woodcut prints, and building 3D sculptures using woodcut principles. I created my first 3 sculptures in my van or on park benches and public picnic tables. 

I live in LA now. I had never planned on living in LA, I thought I would hate it here, but within a few days I randomly bumped into 3 artists that I admired, they invited me to hang out with them, and actually knew who I was. There was a strange feeling that this was where I needed to be, so I rented a room and started working. 

About a month into living in LA I tagged Thinkspace on an instagram post and they followed back. That was a win in my book but shortly after that I received a DM from them inviting me to participate in their Scope Miami show. I jumped up in the air, pumping my fist like Michael Jordan hitting a game winner against the Cavaliers in ‘89. I was so siked! Thinkspace had been my career goal for nearly a decade, and I was finally invited in the doors. 

The underlying message from all of this is to not give up, to keep working through all of the challenges that life throws your way. Maybe don’t sacrifice everything all the time like I did, because it’s a huge gamble, but if you want something, do what you need to do and go after it. 

What is the inspiration behind this latest body of work? 

I’ve always been obsessed with birds in places that they don’t belong. There’s something that gives me great joy about a bird flying around in a bus station or airport. One night I had a dream that I was waiting for a plane and was literally a part of the flock. That’s when I decided to do a huge amount of birds.

The project itself has two meanings. On a personal level it’s about growth and development. Like many people in this world, I’ve had my struggles. I ran from those struggles with alcohol as my running mate and eventually became a person I didn’t even recognize. Through getting sober I have learned that what’s important is me, and my mental health. The idea of using many birds to create one image is a metaphor for all of the little things that need to be in place to have a life worth living, to be the best version of yourself that you can be.

The broader meaning for this project is about finding common ground amongst each other in society. Far too often we are divided by our differences. We have all of the little subsets of society fighting with their opposing subset over the little details and they miss the big picture, that we’re all just pawns in this game and actually have very little control over anything. I believe if we put our egos aside, focus on our similarities rather than our differences, we will be able to come together as a human race to solve the problems that face us and future generations. 

Do you have any pre-studio rituals that help you tap into creative flow? 

On awakening I do a quick gratitude check and ask that my higher power direct my thinking throughout the day. As soon as I’m out of bed I drink 16 oz of water with sea salt and lemon juice to restore the minerals I lost the day before. Coffee is the obvious next step in my process, followed by reading for 1-2 hours, meditation, and 30-60 minutes of exercise. After a smoothie I’m at work for the rest of the day and into the night.

I’m a person that has always lacked discipline. Up until recently my understanding of discipline meant punishment and never reward. Through this morning ritual I have learned that discipline means better mental health, a stronger body, and an understanding of personal accountability. 

That being said, if I’m really busy that discipline goes out the window and my morning routine goes from coffee straight to work.

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

My favorite part of the creative process is creating compositions, working with power tools to build the base of my sculptures and carving the wood that I’ve created it with. Carving is a super meditative process for me and it’s a skill that I have developed over 12 years of having a chisel in my hand almost every day. 

My least favorite part is probably painting. For years I worked almost exclusively in black and white, so introducing color was a huge step for me that I’m still getting adjusted to. I’m learning to love the painting process, but I still find it kind of intimidating. 

What was the most challenging piece in this body of work and why?

The most challenging part of this project is the sheer number of birds I have to carve and paint. There was no specific bird that was significantly more difficult than another but when I hit 25 birds I looked at them and thought “well, this isn’t very impressive.” That’s when I decided to add medium and large sized birds. In total there will be about 60 birds that came together to create this entire installation.

I’ve never done anything this big before. It takes a lot of discipline and a lot of follow through. 

Is there a symbolic significance to the birds and wings that are heavily featured in your work?  

Growing up I didn’t really have a safe space in my everyday life. My home life as a child was scary and violent. On the weekends that I would go to my grandparents it felt like an oasis, a peaceful place where I wouldn’t be screamed at or hit.

One of my most vivid memories from that time period would be waking up in the morning and going outside with my grandmother to feed the birds. My grandfather and I would sit by the big bay window with the bird book open. We would learn about the migratory patterns of the birds that arrived, marking down the date of any rare bird that came through for some seed. 

Most of the birds I put in my work are super common birds, sparrows, and finches, and I use them because they are the only constant of all the places I’ve lived. I’ve moved 27 times in my life because I’ve never had a feeling of home, or safety and the birds represent that.

Who are some of your creative influences? They do not have to be fine artist, but those whose work has inspired you and impacted you creatively.  

Historically, I like Tiepolo, Durer, Piranessi, Charles Scheeler, Brunilleschi and Caravaggio. 

Contemporary artists that I admire are Tristan Eaton, Alex Yanes, Pose and all of MSK, Michael Reeder, Josh Keyes, Nychos and Sainer of ETAM crew. 

My building of installations comes from Barry Mcgee, Nicola Lopez, and of course, Carlos Amorales’ butterflies. 

Inspiration that fits into the “other” category has definitely got to be rap music. Young Jeezy is always on rotation when I need to be motivated, along with Jay-Z,  50 Cent, T.I. and Nipsey Hussle.  I can always find something interesting in a Italo Calvino book, Eckhartt Tolle helps keep me spiritually grounded, and I find a lot of strength in the fellowship of AA.

It’s an unprecedented time as we’re experiencing a global pandemic. How have you been coping/ navigating life during this time?

To be honest, my life hasn’t really changed all that much. I’ve been self-quarantining since before it was suggested. My life has usually been pretty small, especially when I was still on the sauce, so I pretty much only ever worked on art and stayed in the studio. Perhaps it’s gotten easier for me because now I don’t have the constant feeling that I’m missing out on some fun or important event.

I’m hoping that can change soon though, because I’m ready to have a life outside of work. 

On Instagram you’ve shared you’re a hopeless romantic. If you’re open to sharing, what are three qualities you’d like your dream partner to possess? Or do you have a favorite love story, fiction or non-fiction? 

WHAT?! Who told you that?!! Haha, it’s definitely true.

For as long as I can remember I’ve always been in love with love. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I never thought I was deserving of it. Since I quit drinking I’ve figured out how to love myself, which is an amazing new feeling that I hope everyone gets to experience in their lives.

If I had to pick 3 qualities for my future partner…
1. That they were healed from, or at least aware of their traumas.
2. That they were funny and willing to be spontaneous because I’m a somewhat unpredictable air sign.
3. That they care about their health and exercise regularly.

I dunno, that’s a really hard question to answer. I just want to listen to country songs all day and imagine those love stories were mine to tell, so go listen to your local country station for a while. That’s what I’m looking for. 

If your work inspired a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor what would be the ingredients and the name of the pint?

As a hopeless romantic, my flavor would probably be pumpkin spice and Hershey kisses, I’d call it “FALLing In Love”.

Interview with Manuel Zamudio for upcoming exhibition ‘Sunsets In The Apocalypse’

Thinkspace is pleased to present ‘Sunsets In The Apocalypse’ from Mexico-city born and McAllen, Texas-based artist Manuel Zamuido.

As a self-taught artist, Zamudio started perfecting his technique by replicating comic books, without knowing or understanding the human figure, and the concepts of color schemes. Once Zamudio grew older he started taking an interest in the urban culture of South Texas, learning color scheme, perception, shadow and so on from local graffiti artists.

Zamudio’s new body of work has been immensely inspired by great works of cinematography, street art, and post-apocalyptic sci-fi novels. Using portraits as a snapshot of his own movie, blending reality with the surreal.

In anticipation of ‘Sunsets In The Apocalypse’, our interview with Zamudio discusses cinematography, his inspiration for the show, and how he taps into creative flow.

For those unfamiliar with your work, can you share a little about your artistic background and how you became connected with Thinkspace Projects?

Well I am a self-taught artist and I’ve been drawing since I was very young. About a decade ago I really got into graffiti and it was there that I really got into color schemes and trying to become a more technical artist. The graffiti crew I was with taught me a lot. The last few years is when I started to mix graffiti into my paintings and the color schemes I was using then, but instead of focusing on graffiti characters I decided to go with portraits, so kind of mixing two worlds together and giving it an apocalyptic vibe. I became connected to ThinkSpace through the happy place contest they held this year due to the Covid pandemic. I was very fortunate to win the contest and start working with them.

What is the inspiration behind this latest body of work?

Ever since I was a child I was very interested in the apocalypse, sci-fi, comics and those kinds of things. In the last couple of years I started getting into cinematography and trying to understand films a little bit more visually. So when I wanted to start changing the kind of work I was doing, transitioning from graffiti characters to more of a realistic body of work, I decided to use my love of film and my love of apocalyptic story telling as inspiration. Then once the pandemic hit, I feel my work took much of a darker turn as far as the apocalyptic scenery. Like the classic line goes “does art imitates life?” here, life imitates art.

Do you have any pre-studio rituals that help you tap into creative flow?

I think the two main rituals for me when trying to build a piece are going on long runs with a film score on play, that can help me visualize and feel what I want to say with the work. The other is watching movies at the end of the night and dissecting the cinematography.

What was the most challenging piece in this body of work and why?

I think the most challenging for me was “Childhood Fears” just because of the detail and its larger size. I remembered having to work four 10-12 hour days back to back, I definitely had a work hang over after that haha.

Who are some of your creative influences? They do not have to be painters, but those whose work has inspired you and impacted you creatively. 

Some of the most influential people for me the past decade or so would have to be Stanley Kubrick because his beautiful work and discipline with his craft. Another would be Terrence McKenna because his books and talks can really help you think outside the box. Last but not least is Nas because in his early work he spoke a lot about rising above terrible life situations which really helped me stay on track. In general a lot of the golden era hip hop inspires me, I guess that’s where my love for graffiti came from.

If you could sacrifice one of your five senses in exchange for psychic ability would you? And what sense would you give up?

I think I would definitely give up smell, I’d get used to it. For sure worth the psychic ability.

It’s an unprecedented time as we’re experiencing a global pandemic. How have you been coping/ navigating life during this time?

Since the quarantine and lockdowns have been happening I think it really just made me put even more time into my work, it just made me more focused especially getting ready for the show. Not too many distractions.

Do you have a party trick? i.e. A trick such as might be performed at a party for entertainment; an unusual act regarded as one’s speciality.

I don’t know if I can consider this a party trick. But I am extremely clumsy, so usually at a party I always spill a beer or drop something. I think my friends are used to it by now. Haha

If your work inspired a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor what would be the ingredients and the name of the pint?

Chaotic Enlightenment Cherry Swirl

Opening Reception: Saturday, December 12 from noon to 6 pm in Gallery I

masks and social distancing required at all times

On view December 12, 2020 through January 2, 2021