Studio Visit with Dulk for “Ephemeral Treasures”

Visit the studio of DULK and he prepares for “Ephemeral Treasures,” a special exhibition taking place in NYC with our good friends at Spoke Art.

What is the inspiration behind this latest body of work? Could you share with us a bit of your process for approaching the sculpture and jewelry line that will be debuting for Ephemeral Treasures?

Well, as with all of my paintings, my inspiration behind any of them is based on my trips all around the world where I go to observe the animals in their natural habitat. I love getting inspired in nature because those feelings are transmitted to the paintings once I’m back at the studio. This time I would like to go a little bit further and create a sort of window into the threatened habitats where the animals live.

I love to make sculptures of most of my paintings’ characters, and in every solo show, I try to have at least one hand made. In this exhibition, I would like to pay tribute to an extinct animal that passed away 3 years ago. It’s a very special sculpture because it’s a unique piece and it has a very special meaning to me. On my latest trip to Kenya I had the opportunity to visit the tomb of Sudan, at Olpejeta conservancy, he was the last male of northern white rhino and the feelings there were indescribable.

About the jewelry line, it’s been more than a year since I’ve been talking about it with my friend Gabriel Suarez who is the creative director of Suarez, a renowned Spanish jewelry brand. They already produced some jewelry collection with other artist like Okuda or James Jean and he asked me to launch my own jewelry line, I accepted immediately because it’s something special that old masters like Dali or Pablo Picasso did in the past.

It is a unique collaboration, in which the work of an author is turned into a piece of jewelry after a process of elaborate preciousness, in collaboration with the artist to achieve custom-made art. The jewels make up the exhibition as part of the whole. There will be 2 unique pieces available, one of a kind each, one ring and a pair of earrings, and I can say that I’m really happy with the result. The concept of converting the animals into jewels is something that I always strive for with my artworks and now with these pieces it’s more evident.

On view February 20 through March 13, 2021 at:
Spoke Art
210 Rivington Street
New York, NY 10002

Interview with Dulk for “Ephemeral Treasures” showing at Spoke Art

Dulk’s ‘Ephemeral Treasures‘ is a special exhibition taking place in NYC, curated by Thinkspace and co-hosted with our good friends at Spoke Art.

This will be DULK’s debut NYC solo exhibition showcasing new works on canvas. The debut of a new one of a kind sculpture alongside the debut of a new line of jewelry inspired by his work.

Our interview with Dulk explores a memorable moment from a recent safari adventure, how 2020 changed his life, and the stories he is most looking forward to sharing.

What is the inspiration behind this latest body of work? Could you share with us a bit of your process for approaching the sculpture and jewelry line that will be debuting for Ephemeral Treasures?

Well, as with all of my paintings, my inspiration behind any of them is based on my trips all around the world where I go to observe the animals in their natural habitat. I love getting inspired in nature because those feelings are transmitted to the paintings once I’m back at the studio. This time I would like to go a little bit further and create a sort of window into the threatened habitats where the animals live.

I love to make sculptures of most of my paintings’ characters, and in every solo show, I try to have at least one hand made. In this exhibition, I would like to pay tribute to an extinct animal that passed away 3 years ago. It’s a very special sculpture because it’s a unique piece and it has a very special meaning to me. On my latest trip to Kenya I had the opportunity to visit the tomb of Sudan, at Olpejeta conservancy, he was the last male of northern white rhino and the feelings there were indescribable.

About the jewelry line, it’s been more than a year since I’ve been talking about it with my friend Gabriel Suarez who is the creative director of Suarez, a renowned Spanish jewelry brand. They already produced some jewelry collection with other artist like Okuda or James Jean and he asked me to launch my own jewelry line, I accepted immediately because it’s something special that old masters like Dali or Pablo Picasso did in the past.

It is a unique collaboration, in which the work of an author is turned into a piece of jewelry after a process of elaborate preciousness, in collaboration with the artist to achieve custom-made art. The jewels make up the exhibition as part of the whole. There will be 2 unique pieces available, one of a kind each, one ring and a pair of earrings, and I can say that I’m really happy with the result. The concept of converting the animals into jewels is something that I always strive for with my artworks and now with these pieces it’s more evident.

Do you have any pre-studio rituals that help you tap into a creative flow? Do you have a structure for how you approach your time in the studio?

Not especially, I used to arrive at the studio early in the morning, prepare some coffee and put some music in the speaker, then I can start painting. This is what I used to do every day at the studio before anything else.

About how to approach the time in the studio it depends on the season in the year, or if I have other projects at the same time. If I have other things to do at the studio apart from painting I used to do everything in the morning, then, in the afternoon, when everything is done I can chill and paint quietly without any disturbance around me like phone calls or other stuff.

What piece in this latest body of work was really challenging and pushed you as an artist?

All of them showed me something and pushed me as an artist. Any painting is a challenge because I always try to paint different animals that I never painted before or different landscapes, but I have to mention one I would say “Bird Concert: Songs of extinct birds”. This painting is the biggest I did for this show and it has so many birds and characters, so many colors and details so I would say this one.

In the research you’ve done for reference material or inspiration, have you come across a crazy fact about an animal or plant that has blown your mind or stuck with you?

One of the most special moments I remember is during my inspiration trip to Kenya last year. We had been looking for black rhinos at Olpejeta Conservacy, the biggest reserve of black rhino population in Africa, during 3 days and we couldn’t find them. The last day we were there, because we had to continue our journey to the south, at the last moment of the day at twilight time we found a couple of them hidden in the bushes. It was a magical moment after looking for them so hard, and we finally found them in the most special moment.

Your work is incredibly colorful, and you have a real command of color. How do you keep track of the color combinations and storing mixed paints, so they don’t dry out between sessions at the canvas?

I prepare each color at the time that I’m going to use it. I don’t use or store mixed paints between sessions. The acrylic paint dries faster than oil so I finish each part with the mixed colors I prepared when I start it. I like to schedule each part of the painting I’m going to paint so I can mix only the colors that I’m going to use.

Outside of the pandemic, 2020 was pretty significant for you on a personal level; as you’ve shared, you underwent a serious surgery and are now a father to a sweet little baby. Could you share a little bit about how you feel your perspective on life has shifted based on these events?

2020 has been a plenty year, both personal and at work. On the personal side, I had this serious surgery as you mentioned in April and I spent a week in the hospital during the worst part of the pandemic and my wife was pregnant so I couldn’t see her during this. I had really bad moments there but after this my mind changed completely. When I was out, I felt so blessed because everything went well but at the same time powerful and full of energy to face everything that came ahead. After this, everything shifted 180º and things started to go well. I started painting the NYC show, I won the Falla contest to design the main Falla in Valencia for 2021 and I could paint a mural after the surgery so I was 100% recovered. Also, this summer, my son was born and everything went so well, he changed my life forever. Being a father means so much for me and it’s something indescribable.

Who are some of your creative influences? They do not have to be fellow artists, but anyone who inspires you creatively.

Undoubtedly the artist who inspired me from my beginnings was Hieronymus Bosch, a wonderful creator of strange and comical images singularly outlandish. Also, some artists of surrealism like Salvador Dalí or Rene Magritte.

Also, there are other people who inspire me with their photography work like Paul Nicklen or Ami Vitale between many other nature photographers. I love wildlife photography and these photographers with their incredible job share with the world amazing habitats and landscapes to inspire the people to protect the treasures of nature.

Your compositions capture complex storybook-like narratives within the imagery that lets the imagination run wild. Have you ever thought about writing a book or creating a folk tale around these animal figures?

Yes, I thought about it many times but right now I’m totally focused in an artistic way. Anyway, I know it’s something I’ll do in due time.

Follow up, do you have a favorite fairytale or folk story? Something you might look forward to sharing with your own child?

Actually, I don’t have any fairytale or folk story favorites. I like the fables of Jean de la Fontaine so much. One thing that I see while my son grows up, he is now 6 months, it’s that he observes so much of my paintings and shows so much interest in them. I don’t know if it is for the colors or because of the characters but it’s very satisfying for me. One thing that I would love in the future it’s telling him the stories behind my paintings. The imaginary stories that I create while I sketch each painting is something unique that I hope he will love as much I do.

What is one of the most memorable meals you’ve had while traveling? It could be memorable because of the food or the company you were with while enjoying said meal?

I had many memorable meals in my trips around the world but if I have to mention one I think any meal I did in Taiwan when I was there for Pow Wow Taiwan. It was my first time in Asia, and I was so curious about the food there. Any meal I did there was a surprising discovery, starting with the dumplings, followed by a typical Taiwanese tavern and ending with the fish ramen. Also, the company was so great in each place where we went to eat, and the local people introduced me to all the typical food from there. One of the most amazing food experiences I ever had.

Roby Dwi Antono’s ‘Epos’ Featured on Juxtapoz.com

Thank you to our friends at Juxtapoz for writing a thoughtful feature on Roby Dwi Antono whose exhibition “Epos’ opens tomorrow, Saturday, February 6th. Please visit the Juxtapoz website for the full piece, and schedule your visit to the gallery to see his surrealist work in person here.

When Indonesian artist Roby Dwi Antono titled his latest exhibition EPOS  at Thinkspace, he could easily have been referring to the history of surrealism. Derived from the Bahasa language, Epos, “an epic poem, or epope, is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily involving a time beyond living memory in which occurred the extraordinary doings of the extraordinary men and women who, in dealings with the gods or other superhuman forces, gave shape to the mortal universe for their descendants, the poet and his audience, to understand themselves as a people or nation.” 

Juxtapoz.com | Roby Dwi Antono is the Talk of the Town in “Epos” @ Thinkspace Projects

Edith Lebeau’s ‘Certain Scars Can’t Be Seen’ Featured on Juxtapoz

Thank you to our friends at Juxtapoz for writing an eloquent feature on Edith Lebeau whose exhibition “Certain Scars Can’t Be Seen‘ opens tomorrow, Saturday, February 6th. Please visit the Juxtapoz website for the full piece, and schedule your visit to the gallery to see her moving work in person here.

Who hasn’t put on a brave face, who hasn’t failed at the effort, and who hasn’t simply shrugged attempting a sunny or steely-eyed facade?  Sometimes it would just help to somehow define that feeling, but the words don’t emerge. \So often, there’s comfort in knowing another person is feeling the same way.  With her mantra, “Empathy is always the key.  Don’t judge, listen”, artist Edith Lebeau is here to offer not only the comfort of connection, but insight into recognizing the needs of others.

– Juxtapoz.com | Certain Scars Can’t Be Seen: Edith Lebeau @ Thinkspace Projects, Los Angeles

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

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