Interview with Brad Woodfin for his upcoming exhibition “Glad You’re Here”

Thinkspace Projects is pleased to present Brad Woodfin’s ‘Glad You’re Here,’ a solo exhibition inspired by songs from decades ago.

His portraits of creatures, rendered carefully on a rich dark background, evoke the portraits from the Dutch Golden Age. The posture of his subjects and his use of light combine to bestow each species with an almost religious reverence. With reverence for his subjects, Brad favours expression and mood over academic documentation.

In anticipation of ‘Glad You’re Here, our interview with Brad Woodfin discusses how Marion Peck has influenced his artistic journey, what he hopes the afterlife is like, and the power of patience.

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

I studied printmaking at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. I worked almost exclusively with one teacher and also was the lab aide in the printmaking studio so I was spending close to forty hours a week doing printmaking. My last year there I switched to painting. The first time I worked with Thinkspace was in 2012 in the Wild At Heart group show. In 2019 Andrew invited me to show at the LAX/MSY group show and since then I have been doing a few group shows a year with Thinkspace.

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

Themes in my work have been pretty consistent since the beginning and I feel like I am just digger deeper wells so to speak. Widening the circles. I wouldn’t say that I always know exactly what I’m doing and I don’t want that to sound like some woo-woo artist-speak, like I am led by some divine force, I just feel like I am still figuring it out. Some artists can speak definitively about what they do and why. I can’t. II love devotional art and at it’s best that’s what I want my work to be, as broad as that may sound.. I think about how grief buzzes along with us at all times. I’ve been listening to old songs from the twenties through the fifties, and old opera recordings and poetry from that era and I love how they talked about being blue and a certain sadness that has a soft quality to it but is also really honest and it can be so heartbreaking, simple and devastating. I don’t long for old times, as a queer man I know they are problematic, but that same blue feeling exists today and I wanted to share that in those same ways. The quietness. The antique colour palette. The silence between notes and words. This body of work begins to show some signs of symbolism and elements of what I would call “folk”. I think of the folk elements as being a bit flatter and simpler and more iconographic.

Who are a few of your creative influences? How have they inspired you and your work?

Marion Peck is a friend and a mentor. I was lucky enough to meet her years ago and she showed me what an artist is. I love her paintings, but it was also that she was the coolest person I had met. I was painting but I knew nothing about what I was doing. I saw her put-together shows in her apartment. Her amazing paintings pinned to her walls. I was in awe but also saw how it worked. The romance of it and the alchemy. She was my Patti Smith. She was punk and wild and so talented and exotic and such a force. Meeting her for sure changed my life. I love the work of Northern Renaissance, Surrealists, the Situationist International, Alexander McQueen but I think being inspired how to live, create, think and work by Marion Peck or reading Just Kids by Patti Smith has a sort of “whole package” vibe
that I really take to.

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

I love riding my bike. If there is an afterlife and I end up on the right side of things I will be high on a bike riding through Montréal on a summer night for eternity. So I start and finish each day with a bike ride. I finish work in time for happy hour and I never work at night. If I find the right record to listen to while I work I will often just keep it on repeat all day. I love podcasts too.

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

“Heart Murmurs” was the most challenging painting in this show. It’s really literal. It is a bit like using a new language by introducing the heart and bell. It was inspired by the saying “The brain is the chasm, the heart is the bridge”. Speaking a new language can be embarrassing and it feels like that a bit. I think it helped me grow as I chose to put it in the show. If I hadn’t I wouldn’t have been honest about the painting’s subject, which is sort of funny that the painting put me in that predicament.

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

I love when I have a painting already started and I can just go in the studio and continue. I sometimes don’t love starting a new painting.

Your CV is very prolific but doesn’t start until 2008; based on when you attended college, it implies perhaps there was 14 years of development and cultivation before momentum hit. Could you tell us about the time between college and that 2008 show at Atelier Gallery?

When I finished school I didn’t know if I would do art and I was barely painting. I was playing in bands and I worked at a record store in Seattle and this is when I really got to know Marion Peck. Right before I moved to Montréal I sent an email to Atelier Gallery in Vancouver, BC because he showed The Royal Art Lodge paintings, which I loved and he gave me a show. That’s when I started to really work on painting and I had a lot of work to do to get better. I was lucky to show lots in those first 10 years as it forced me to work.

What advice would you give to the impatient artist? Or the artist still looking for their voice and style?

I would say focus on one thing and work as much as you can. I am the least patient person and the art world moves so slow, but I have learned that things I thought I was ready for, I really wasn’t.

If you were given the power to master any skill or become an expert in any subject you wanted within a 24 hour period what would you focus on?

I would want to be a builder who could do all things like electrical, plumbing, tile work, mosaics, plaster, woodworking. I love interior design and I wish I could do all of it.

If you could have dinner with five people (fictional or real, dead or alive) who would they
be? What would be on the menu? And what is your ice breaker question?

Alexander McQueen, Salvador Dali and Gala, Yaeji, Mamma Andersson. Vegan Pizza and champagne.
What are you working on?

April 3, 2021 – April 24, 2021

Opening Reception:
Saturday, April 3, 2021
12:00-6:00pm
*Masks and social distancing required

Giorgiko’s exhibition ‘What is and what is not’ debuts this April

GIORGIKO
What Is (and what is not)

April 3, 2021 – April 24, 2021

Continuing this year of poignant exhibitions, Thinkspace is proud to present Giorgiko’s ‘What is and what is not’ Created by husband and wife team Darren and Trisha Inouye, a pair known in the art world as Giorgiko, ‘What is and what is not is a result of the 2020 apocalypse.

The exhibition draws on experiences of the last year and the word itself. A weighted word, just hearing “apocalypse” conjures imagery, imagery that Giorgiko has drawn on and specified creating a series that is hauntingly beautiful and relevant. The etymological root of the word “apocalypse” is the Greek word “apokálypsis”, which means “an unveiling or unfolding of things not previously known and which could not be known apart from the unveiling”.  The husband and wife duo incorporates this definition, revealing truths about our world while maintaining a sense of whimsy. 

“2020 revealed much of what was hidden in us — both things that brought us hope and things that deeply grieved us.  ‘What is and what is not’, as a body of work, explores the various questions raised and revelations experienced by so many during that tumultuous year.”

A perfect pairing, Trisha brings a cuteness and sweet innocence to Giorgiko’s characters while Darren incorporates an underground influence stemming from his love of hip hop dancing and graffiti. Together, blending and juxtaposing street and cute, they create the Giorgiko universe, full of relatable images for wanderers of all ages.

‘What is and what is not’ opens April 3, 2021. On view until April 24, 2021 at Thinkspace Projects.

About Giorgiko

Giorgiko (pronounced jee-OR-jee-koh) is the product of a collaborative experiment between husband-and-wife duo Darren and Trisha Inouye. Their work ranges from minimal character illustration to large-scale classical painting, with a sprinkling of Los Angeles street culture. The Giorgiko universe began in 2012 with a simple story of a pink-haired girl and is now home to lost boys, wayfaring girls, and mysterious dogs. Darren and Trisha’s work explores the stories of their wanderings and their dreams of being found again. Darren and Trisha first met during orientation at their alma mater ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California. They sat next to each other in Design 1, and the rest is history. Darren and Trisha reside in the greater Los Angeles area with their twin children.

Brad Woodfin’s exhibition “Glad You’re Here” debuts this April

Brad Woodfin
Glad You’re Here

APRIL 3, 2021 – APRIL 24, 2021

At a time when nostalgia has proven to provide comfort and respite, Thinkspace Projects is pleased to present Brad Woodfin’s ‘Glad You’re Here,’ a solo exhibition inspired by songs from decades ago. 

Filled with sentimentality and a bittersweet melancholy, the paintings for ‘Glad You’re Here’ take cues from the moods of certain old songs, including the particular language around sadness: being blue. Woodfin reflects this in the colours of the portraits, the symbolism, and iconography. A self-described fan of devotional art,  the experience Woodfin creates is nothing short of poetic. Pulling from an audio medium to a visual one, Woodfin manages to preserve the nostalgic feeling of “Golden Moments,” a grief that buzzes through speakers rising like smoke rings to meet every era. The title only feeds into the experience, intentionally chosen as something that may be a bit disarming to say out loud.

His portraits of creatures, rendered carefully on a rich dark background, evoke the portraits from the Dutch Golden Age. The posture of his subjects and his use of light combine to bestow each species with an almost religious reverence. With reverence for his subjects, Brad favours expression and mood over academic documentation. 

‘Glad You’re Here’ is influenced by the moods and colors of certain old songs, how they can be sort of soft and spacious but at the same time be sort of devastating. I named the paintings after real old songs, I made them to sound like old songs. It’s devotional, it’s a bit sentimental and a bit dark and I love all those things.”

‘Glad You’re Here’ opens April 3, 2021. On view until April 24, 2021 at Thinkspace Projects.        

About Brad Woodfin

Brad Woodfin was born in Marblehead, Massachusetts in 1970. He studied printmaking and painting at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington before moving to Canada in 2008. Known for his uncanny ability to capture the essential spirit beyond his exquisitely executed fauna portraits, his oil paintings are thoughtful compositions of opposites: light and dark, tight and loose, motion and stillness, life and death.

Woodfin’s work has been featured in solo exhibitions across North America including: New York, Vancouver, Calgary, Seattle, and San Francisco as well as international group exhibitions and art fairs in London, Miami, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. In 2012, he was shortlisted for the prestigious Young Masters Art Prize (London, UK), which celebrates artists who pay homage to the skill and traditions of the past. He currently lives and works in Montréal.

Photo Tour of new works from Ken Nwadiogbu and Fumi Nakamura

Thinkspace presents a photo tour through Ken Nwadiogbu’s “Ubuntu” and Fumi Nakamura’s “Look Toward the Future, but Not So Far As To Miss Today“. Now on view through March 27th, click here to schedule a visit to the gallery.

Photos courtesy of Birdman

Video Tour of new works from Ken Nwadiogbu and Fumi Nakamura

KEN NWADIOGBU – Ubuntu

FUMI NAKAMURA – Look Toward the Future, but Not So Far As To Miss Today

On view: March 6, 2021 – March 27, 2021 | Schedule your visit here.

EXCERPT FROM KEN NWADIOGBU INTERVIEW

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

These works were created between 2020 to 2021. The question was: what did it feel like to be Nigerian during this time and what do I think we can do to make it better.

I experienced a lot of threatening events around me and could connect it with what was happening around the world. The hatred, the war, division and violence. I got really interested in making direct statements through my works concerning this. This gave rise to UBUNTU, an African philosophy made popular by Late Nelson Mandela. The philosophy of togetherness. “I am because we are”. I believe there’s a lot of good we can do if we are United.

Full interview here

EXCERPT FROM FUMI NAKAMURA INTERVIEW

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

I’ve been learning and trying to incorporate my own culture into my work more. I moved to the United States when I was eleven. I stopped learning Japanese language, culture and history since then, instead, I tried to focus on learning English and American culture to fit in. Growing up in the United States made me question my existence, ethnicity and culturally more, and I was often being asked “which country is home to you?,” which troubled me a lot.

Now I am in my mid-thirties, looking back on all the work I made and working through many hours of psychoanalysis, that question no longer troubles me anymore, but it rather made me curious about my own existence, concentrating on being alive and what to look forward to in the future.

Full interview here