Interview with Alex Face for ‘Scorch and Drop’

Thinkspace Projects presents Alex Face’s debut U.S solo exhibition, ‘Scorch and Drop.’

This brand new collection of Alex Face’s newest work incorporates the character Alex Face has become known for, exploring new situations and elements, introducing the variety within his work to a new audience.

His signature subject, a quizzical smoking baby that shares a moniker with the artist himself, can be seen contemplating the future. With a worried look spread across its face, this baby turns an eye to the world around it, an extension of Alex Face’s identity as an artist with a social conscience.

In anticipation of ‘Scorch and Drop,” our interview with Huntz Liu explores his experiences while creating street art, how quickly our world changes, and an artist’s work that has deeply moved him.  

For those unfamiliar with your work, can you tell us a little about your artistic background and how you came to work with and know about Thinkspace?  

I first discovered Thinkspace gallery on social media a long time ago, as I heard that they’ve worked with several talented street artists. In 2019 I came to America for the first time, traveling to Chicago, Denver, New York, and Los Angeles which exposed my artworks to Thinkspace gallery, resulting in this exhibition.

What is the inspiration behind this latest body of work? 

I get my inspiration from the world’s current situation; things like the pandemic, pollution, and the negative changes that the world is currently experiencing. It shows how fragile humans are, and invokes a question we all have to ask. Will the next generation survive? How will humans handle change to the world as we know it? Humans have created things to help make life easier and more comfortable, but those things have to be exchanged for the earth’s limited resources, which can be compared to humans burning themselves in order to step forward, but inevitably our flames will burn out.

You’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from your childhood in past pieces, could you share with us what your childhood was like? Are there elements from your childhood that you want to make sure your own children experience? 

I was born 40 years ago in a small cottage, with a stream flowing in front and a rice field in the back. When I look out, the fields seem never-ending. In my childhood, we had no electricity, no automated water, and my only toys were models that I made out of mud and clay. That was how things were in the past, but now my home has changed almost entirely. In only four decades the rice field has been replaced with a highway, multiple industrial factories, and private communities while the stream has turned black. This definitely isn’t only occurring at my home, but in other places across Thailand as well. Every time I see an old photograph, it makes me realize that time goes by so fast. Now, I live in a different house and have a daughter of my own, but I still take her to see her grandparents, to play in the mud and water as I did, even though things have changed.

Do you have any rituals to help you tap into a creative flow? What does a day in the studio look like? 

My routine definitely starts with breakfast, coffee. After that, I paint for the rest of the day and night, while listening to music or catching up with the news. Some days, when there is something happening in the city and I want to speak out about it, I would go out and find a wall to paint, which not only gets my message across but also provides a nice shift in my routine.

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

I like the period where the works are almost finished and I can take time to put in small details and perfect the painting. And my least favorite part is when I make a mistake when the time runs out.

Do you remember your first mural/ piece of street art? Where was it located and what did you create? 

I remember just writing “Alex” in a bubble style with a white fill-in and red outline on an abandoned old American car that was left on my way home. After that, I was hooked and could never put down the spray can. This all happened in 2002

Is there a crazy story you can share with us from a time when you were out on the street working on a mural? Where were you and what happened to make it a unique experience? 

Actually, there is a story to every time I go outside to paint. I usually encounter hospitality, while other times are spent getting chased through the streets. I find it fun though because you never know what type of people you’re going to meet, and I also get to talk about art with normal people, even the people who live on the streets. There was one time when I painted a child’s face on top of a garbage pile, to signify the children who are being orphaned every day. After that a middle-aged lady came up to me and asked me, “why did you paint a baby on a garbage pile?” And so I told her the message behind it, and she was quiet for a moment then suddenly started crying.

What is a piece of art or artist that has had a significant impact on you? 

Of course, there are various artworks that I have had a chance to see, from murals on the walls to masterpieces. Out of all the museum trips I made in Europe and America, there is one time where I was so excited I had to shed tears. This was when I went to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam and was able to witness the works he left behind and the honesty in making these paintings. Even though Van Gogh has been gone for a long time, multiple people still queue outside the museum to get a glimpse of his genius.

You like to experiment and mix together different styles and materials/ mediums in your work – do you have a favorite unexpected pairing? It could be food, music, really anything – but something that seems like it shouldn’t go together but when paired is a magical combo. 

An abandoned place and children are the two main contrasting things in my work because they are two things that I don’t think would go together, but I have actually seen children play in these dangerous places even though they shouldn’t be and that has also given me inspiration. But if you’re asking about something that seems to not go well together, I would say spray painting a wall while humming traditional Thai country songs.

If you could have a dinner party with five people dead or alive; who would they be? What is on the menu? What would be your icebreaker question? 

Menu: spiced stir-fried beef and holy basil, served with a crispy sunny side egg

Ice-breaker question: Are there any updates on your lives? It can be your current lives or your after-lives

1. Claude Monet

2. David Hockney

3. 2Pac 

4. Barry McGee 

5. Ed Templeton 

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