Interview with Anthony Clarkson for his current exhibition ‘Enigmatic Dreams’ on view til Friday March 17, 2023 at The Brand Library & Arts Center

Thinkspace is pleased to present Anthony Clarkson‘s seventh solo exhibition ‘Enigmatic Dreams’ with our gallery. A painter, designer, and illustrator, Clarkson’s oil paintings are ghostly and surreal – dreamlike meanderings through eerily cast dimensions. Stylistically dark, they feel like haunted eruptions of the subconscious. Combining character-based narratives with the unexpected juxtaposition of suggestive symbols and absurd elements, they create jarring nightmarish figments and provocative associations. At times playful and others nihilistic, his works are graphically and illustratively inspired to elicit a gut reaction.

Our interview with Anthony Clarkson discusses his playlists, his dreams and all the coffee he drinks in order to make this exhibition happen!

You’ve been showing with Thinkspace since its inception. Your artistic career growing alongside the project’s evolution. What does having an exhibition up at the Brand Library and Arts Center mean to you?

Having a show at the Brand Library is great. It’s such a unique place to show with a great atmosphere. It’s also nice to be showcased alongside rooms featuring other artists I admire so much.

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

In the past I’ve almost always had very ‘themed’ shows that revolved around some sort of narrative. This time I tried to just paint images that came to me without overanalyzing them or trying to make them fit a theme. That’s why I titled the show Enigmatic Dreams. Enigmatic means difficult to interpret or understand, and that’s how I felt initially about most of the pieces. As I worked on them they would gain meaning for me, but at their inception they were just free-form consciousness.

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

These Oceans Within’ was probably the most challenging. Mostly because I’ve not painted a lot water like that before, and also painting it from what feels like two different perspectives between the top and bottom halves was interesting. Anytime you do something you’re not use to or go out of your comfort zone it causes your skills to grow, even if it’s incrementally and not a major leap forward.

Enigmatic Dreams has imagery that gives a sense of surrender and control, holding on and letting go. How do you navigate these human truths in your own life? Do you have any practices that help you cope with the chaos that is being alive?

Deciding what we hold onto or let go of can be hard. It’s where we decide to put our energy day to day that can really define the kind of person we move through life as. When I’m making art or get consumed listening to an album is when my mind is most clear and life makes the most sense.

The opening at The Brand Library and Art Center was quite the scene; what was one of your favorite moments from the evening?

Really it was just seeing how much people seemed to enjoy the art and vibe going on.

Did this latest body of work have an associated playlist or source of musical inspiration per piece?

Not really. I listened to so much stuff I can’t say there was any particular band or album that was the ‘soundtrack’ to this group of work. In the last few weeks of work I was listing to the new Katatonia album ‘Sky Void of Stars’ and Host’s debut album ‘IX’ a lot. Other than that I was listening to a lot of mellow movie soundtracks like American Beauty, Spotlight, and Lost In Translation.

Your work has a dreamlike quality; are you a vivid dreamer? If so, does that imagery or narrative ever inspire or enter into the work you’re developing?

I’d say most of my pieces start off based on dreams I have. That can usually be as simple as a feeling, colors, or a phrase that remain as the dream itself fades. It’s hard for me to just come up with an idea on the spot, which can be really frustrating at times. I need to let my mind not focus on coming up with an idea and when I’m typically in a half wake / dream state ideas just come to me.

Coffee is an essential part of the creative practice. What is your coffee order? Do you have a favorite/preferred brand of coffee?

I love coffee, but I’m also not picky at all about it. I’m the kind of person that can drink day old truck stop coffee and be totally fine with it.

There are more than several amazing pieces in the exhibition, and this might be a difficult question, but are you up for the challenge – what piece would you want to add to your art collection, and why?

I’d have to say “An American Werewolf In London” by Matthew Grabelsky was one that I really loved. I’m a sucker for anything with a wolf in it.

If someone wanted to understand the emotional landscape of your story and creative process, do you have a film recommendation that would be able to echo familiar themes?

In a lot of ways I’d have to say the movie ‘Adaptation’. Even though it’s about an author instead of a painter, the way the main character thinks about the creative process and his own place within it rings very true to me. His striving to be original and really say something but feeling that he may not be achieving anything of true uniqueness is an internal struggle I can definitely identify with.

On view only until this Friday March 17th at The Brand Library and Arts Center in Glendale, California.

The Brand Library and Arts Center
1601 W. Mountain Street
Glendale, California 91201

Viewing Days / Hours:
Tues. – Thurs.: 11am – 8pm
Fri. & Sat.: 10am – 5pm
Closed Sun. & Mon.
Free Admission & Free Parking

For more about the exhibition and opening night click HERE!

Photos by @BirdManPhotos.

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