Interview with Brian ‘Dovie’ Golden for ‘Hard Candy’ | Exhibition May 6 – May 27, 2023 

Thinkspace is pleased to present Brian ‘Dovie’ GoldenHard Candy‘ -a study in contradictions that underscores the struggle of preservation. With a hard exterior and a soft heart, Brian “Dovie” Golden relates to the sweet treat, calling attention to the internal strife caused by human duality. Often taught to “toughen up” and “be a man,” the show is a reflection of the artist’s personal experiences as a Black man navigating emotions, family, faith and life. His childhood love of drawing shines through in pop culture elements and vibrant colors. Nodding to both pop art and photorealism, Golden presents something fresh to the new contemporary art scene.

Our interview with Brian shares some of his must-have playlist tracks, how he orders his ramen, and his way of dealing with grief.

What themes were you exploring in this body of work? Did you have a particularly challenging piece?

Reflection – particularly through the eyes of my 11-year-old self – took center stage in this body of work. As I pored over old family polaroids in tattered photo albums – some leather-bound, others plastic or vinyl – I was transported. These beautiful artifacts of cherished stories represented more than just glimpses into years far gone; they were invitations to reconnect, root, and reflect. No particular piece in Hard Candy felt especially challenging, rather the entire body of work tested my vulnerability, strengthened my mental fortitude and sharpened my execution skills.

You shared that bourbon, a good cup of coffee, and a playlist all help to get you into a creative flow. What is your favorite bourbon and coffee brand? What is a must-have playlist track?

A good cup of coffee was a welcome companion throughout the making of this show, and I have a particular fondness for the locally roasted Intelligentsia and Dark Matter coffee brands here in Chicago. As someone who works in advertising, I often find myself creating in the wee hours of the night when everyone else is asleep. To prepare for this show, I pulled more all-nighters than I have in a very long time. While I don’t have a specific song, I curated a playlist of songs from my childhood that perfectly captured the nostalgic mood I was seeking to evoke in this body of work. Nas – it aint hard to tell, Anita Baker – same ole love, Nirvana – heart shaped box, to list a few.

Over the last three years, your work has moved away from including realism portraiture and has focused more on the f(r)iend and fiend characters. Can you share what informed the evolution in your style and if you think you’d return to portraiture elements?

I always strive to strike a balance between figuring out the primary and secondary characters within my pieces. Typically, the primary person is the one affected by the friend or fiend, with the friend or fiend serving as a secondary component. I sought to transform the concept of “f(r)iend and fiend characters” into something more personal, acknowledging that both sides of these characters are innate within us. Shifting away from realism portraiture has enabled me to concentrate on the mood and posture of the subject, thereby allowing for a more holistic story of their interaction with the environment.

How do you celebrate yourself? What experiences ignite joy in your life?

I am still on a journey of self-discovery and learning to celebrate myself. Rainstorms bring me immense joy and a sense of calm. I find them therapeutic and mesmerizing, often losing myself in the sight of each raindrop hitting the pavement. It’s remarkable how each drop, like a snowflake, completes its task of giving life to the vegetation below. The significance of rain is powerful, and it never fails to uplift my spirits. Furthermore, I am learning to prioritize spending time with the people who matter to me. Life is short, and it’s crucial for me to cherish and value the moments spent with my loved ones.

Grief is not a stranger to you, and unfortunately have had to learn to live with its immeasurable weight far sooner than some and more than others will ever experience. How would you describe grief? What advice was the hardest to receive but the most important for learning to navigate it?

I have learned that grief is not just one thing. It can be and serve as a powerful catalyst that motivates you to persevere; alternatively, it can dismantle the very foundation of your beliefs. In the aftermath of tragedy, grief draws out feelings of helplessness. The maxim, “God’s plans are not mine,” proved particularly difficult for me to accept. However, as I reflect upon this bittersweetness of this wisdom and actively choose to embrace life, I’m gradually piecing together the puzzle and gaining a clearer understanding.

Faith plays a significant role in your life, and prayer is a part of your creative process. Have you always been a person of faith?

Yes, but admittedly, I have my own share of shortcomings. However, my mother has been an unwavering source of strength and inspiration, a true warrior in my life. She prays for her family every single day, and I firmly believe that it’s those prayers that have repeatedly saved my life. My faith in God and His guiding hand over my life is something I cherish deeply, and even in moments of desperation and sorrow, I find solace in the knowledge that He is always there.

What’s your favorite kind of Ramen?

Tonkotsu, hands down! Usually with extra noodles and chili oil.

What do you hope viewers take away or experience while viewing your work?

Contemplating this question often causes me anxiety, as our thoughts and perceptions evolve over time. It’s difficult to predict how my work will be interpreted 10 or 20 years from now, and this uncertainty can keep me up at night. However, I believe that everyone views the world in their own unique way, and I welcome diverse interpretations of my work. My ultimate goal is to inspire people to reflect on important themes in their current lives, as this moment is temporary and fleeting.

Would you rather be locked inside a library or an art supply store for three days? Both vicinities have plenty of food, water, and a comfy air mattress with cozy blankets for the stay.

Wow so comfy! If I were locked inside an art store, I doubt I would sleep at all, given the endless possibilities and materials available to create whatever my heart desires. Nonetheless, as tempting as it sounds, I believe I would prefer the library. Three days immersed in a space of boundless knowledge and inspiration seems like the ideal setting to generate a plethora of fresh ideas.

Exhibition on view May 6 – May 27, 2023 at:
Thinkspace Projects
4207 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Los Angeles, California 90016

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