Interview with Brian Mashburn for “Origin Stories”

Thinkspace is proud to present Brian Mashburn’s solo exhibition ‘Origin Story’ in our main roomWe’ve been showing Mashburn’s signature hyper-realistic and resonate smoky landscapes for the last three years and this is his first solo main room exhibition. We are excited to present this Ashville-based artist’s most substantial body of work to date, as he explores the origin stories of the self through desolate compositions.  In anticipation of Mashburn’s upcoming exhibition with us, we have an exclusive interview with Brian Mashburn to discuss his latest body of work, his favorite and least favorite aspect of his work, and time travel.

Origin Stories opening reception is from 6 – 9 pm this coming Saturday, April 7th in our main room

SH: Tell us about this show. What is the inspiration? What were you exploring in the work?

BM: This will be my first solo in the main room at Thinkspace and I’m pretty sure it’s the largest single body of work I’ve made to date.  I’m excited and very grateful for the opportunity, looking forward to spending a few days in LA, too.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the notion of narrative history and origin stories both on a personal level and on a wider cultural or societal one.  Our identities are often couched in origin stories – a recounting of major life events such as where you grew up, people you knew and loved, tragedy endured and avoided, that all come together to form the present moment.  It’s also to do with heritage, a word that carries somewhat unfortunate euphemistic attributes these days, but nonetheless, from what tribe are your parents are from?  Grandparents?  How did they come to be here or there?  It’s interesting to me the level at which this sort of thing shapes our current experience in and of the world.
Also birds.  Lots of birds in this show.


SH: What 3 websites do you check every day or people you follow on social media?

BM: My daily media diet is centered more around podcasts than websites or social.  I don’t know that I have 3 websites I visit daily unless you count Gmail and maybe YouTube or Netflix, but as far as podcasts go there are quite a few I listen to regularly.  I like The Weeds and Ezra Klein’s show, Bill Simmons, WTF, On Being, Fresh Air, Us and Them, Unexplained, Past Present, Conversations with Tyler Cowan, and many more.

SH: What excites you about your work / creative process?

BM: It’s always exciting when something new or experimental works out.  I’m always trying to improve or evolve in some form or other – sometimes things just work out, which is great.

SH: What frustrates you about your work / creative process?

BM: In the same vein as the previous question, it’s frustrating when the work feels stagnant.

SH: After a show what do you do? Do you take a long break, vacation, a particular ritual? Tell us. 

BM: I always think I’m going to take a break but in reality it rarely if ever happens.  I generally take a couple extra days when I’m in California to go somewhere, maybe camp, be out in nature.  In the days leading up to a big show I tend to get pretty burnt but as soon as it’s over the main thing I want to do is just get back in the studio.  Something about idle hands feels dangerous.

SH: How do you plan out your compositions?

BM: Most of my compositions are pretty basic at their core.  I’ll occasionally do a thumbnail sketch and decide on a compositional stem or armature on which I’ll build the picture.  More often I’ll just have a general design in mind, such as one based on an ‘L’ or ‘O’ and just feel it out as I go – working background to foreground.

SH: How often are you in the studio, do you work on the pieces daily or do you have creative spurts with concentrated efforts of work and then long periods of not working?

BM: I work every day with varying degrees of success.  I almost always have at least a dozen paintings in the works.  There is the occasional day when I don’t paint but rather work on reference and research.


SH: What do you eat when working on the show? Are you a 3 square meals kind of person, or have snacks on hand?

BM: I probably eat better when a deadline is approaching.  It’s basically the only downtime I have so I try and make it count. I’ve been cooking a lot lately, too, been really into cast iron.  I find it very rewarding to not be completely inept in the kitchen.

SH: If you were to collaborate with a band or musical artists to create a music video inspired by your artwork, who would you work with?

BM: Elvis.

SH: Has there been an artistic catalyst in your life? Something, someone, some event that made a significant impact on you that has lead you to where you are now.

BM: Yes, all the time.  I particularly like when something mundane gets the ball rolling, like when the power goes out or unexpected overnight snow.


SH: What’s in your toolbox? AKA what paints, brushes, tools would we find in your studio? What do you wish was in your studio?

BM: Lots of brushes, mostly Gamblin and Winsor/Newton oils, several easels, a computer and iPad.  I would love to have a studio with higher ceilings and better light.

SH: You have a time machine, and you could do anything / go anywhere for 24 hours, and would not interfere with the space-time continuum. What would you do? 

BM: It would probably be something nature-related, like go see a short-faced bear or woolly mammoth.

Check out past interviews with Brian Mashburn for his previous exhibitions with Thinkspace Projects. 

2017 Interview with Brian Mashburn

2015 Interview with Brian Mashburn

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