October Exhibitions featuring works from Langston Allston, Fajar Amali, TRNZ, Jolene Lai, Tenser, and Al Marcano open October 7, 2023

Thinkspace Projects presents:

A Passing Love
(Gallery I)

Among Our Existence
(Gallery II)

The Weight of Things
(Gallery III)

Secret Garden
(Gallery IV)

Three Halves
(The Doghouse Gallery)

Spirit Ditch
(Viewing Room)

Opening Reception:
Saturday, October 7 from 6-10pm

On view October 7 – October 28, 2023 at:

Thinkspace Projects
4207 W. Jefferson Blvd + 4217 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Los Angeles, California 90016

Collector Preview will be shared on Monday, October 2.

‘A Passing Love’
(Gallery I)

In the Main Gallery, Thinkspace Projects is pleased to present ‘A Passing Love,’ the gallery’s sophomore solo exhibition with artist Langston Allston. Allston conveys real stories and experiences with striking colors. He addresses his work with hope, with curiosity, and with the quiet sadness of knowing nothing is ever going to be the same.

Artist Statement:
The show is sort of a return to some of the themes and ideas that I was working on in my 2020 show ‘No Peace.’ That body of work featured tight compositions with flames reflected on the relatively serene faces of the figures in my paintings. The summer of 2020 was full of fire and chaos for me, and I couldn’t help but dive into those feelings and visuals in the work I was creating during that time. 

This summer has felt like a return to that pervasive feeling of chaos. With fires erupting in the swamps, and smoke clouding the skies across the country, it’s impossible not to wonder what the world will look like when the heat of summer passes and we are left to pick up the pieces yet again.

The title pays tribute to the Langston Hughes poem ‘Passing Love’

Because you are to me a song
I just not song you over-long.

Because you are to me a prayer 
I cannot say you everywhere.

Because you are to me a rose –
You will not stay when summer goes.

About Langston Allston:
Langston Allston is a painter and muralist based in New Orleans, Louisiana. He splits his time between New Orleans and Chicago, Illinois and finds inspiration for his work in the everyday moments that make each city unique and beautiful. His work has been featured at the Contemporary Art Center, in New Orleans, the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Art, in Brooklyn, and is in the permanent collection of the City of New Orleans. Allston has also created public art throughout Chicago for community organizations like the Blocc, and the Mural Movement, and for major brands like the Chicago Bulls.

‘Among Our Existence’
(Gallery II)

In Gallery II, Fajar Amali’s debut solo show ‘Among Our Existence’ fills the space. The Indonesian artist explores a post-apocalyptic setting, featuring pop figures in the still life painting approach. Seeing how still life painting can bring an impressive depth in various times, Amali views it as a method of recording the momentum of time. Using iconic figures in popular comics as toys in still life style works, Amali explores the worth of things that are often underestimated. 

About Fajar Amali:

Fajar Amali was born in Surabya in 1992, Fajar currently lives and works in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. He droped out from Hassan II Universite, Casablanca, Morocco, North African. Then he moved and studied in Indonesian Art Institute (Institut Seni Indonesia) Yogyakarta, Indonesia. His work mainly is a painting and Mix Media.

Fajar has graduated from art institute, Institut Seni Indonesia Yogyakarta and continues his career as an artist in Yogyakarta.

He has two tendencies in his work, first he uses the “What if the Multiverse exists?” pattern to see exixting perspectives as new possibilities. And another tendency in his work to use iconic robot figure in each of his work, these figure are deformation of Dwarapala form as a form of his local culture. Dwarapala is a statue of a gate or door guard in the teachings of Shiva and Buddha, in the form of a human or a monster. Usually the dwarapala is placed outside a temple, shrine or other building to protect a sacred place or sacred place inside.

For now he is deeply intrigued by Sci-Fi reality after apocalypse and relates it to our empirical experiences in popular culture. The pop culture style that accompanies his work for now is taken from adapting and appropriate the cyberpunk genre of comics and cartoons.

‘The Weight of Things’
(Gallery III)

In Gallery III, Thinkspace Projects presents their sophomore show with artist TRNZ. A few years ago, TRNZ developed a fascination with using mundane things and figures, arranged to loom over his work, presenting an awkward mystery. The artist from the Philippines uses ‘The Weight of Things’ to navigate the same process with an exceedingly charged relationship between the figures and the objects surrounding them. Taking cues and motifs from his own memories and experiences, he assembles visual imagery in uncanny ways.

About TRNZ:
Born in Manila, TRNZ (pronounced ‘Terence’) was introduced to art through dubbed Japanese anime which aired daily on his family’s local television. After receiving a BFA Major in Advertising, he spent his early years as an art director at TBWA/SMP, a global network advertising agency. In 2017, he shifted directions and started dabbling in visual art. His time in advertising taught him to embrace a multimedia approach in his work. Now, he creates a world with alluring narration while keeping characteristics that are unique to him and his style.

‘Secret Garden’
(Gallery IV)

Gallery IV holds Jolene Lai’s ‘Secret Garden’, a collection of oil paintings and drawings that seek to ignite curiosity about the hidden stories we all carry within ourselves. What kind of magical landscape gets unfolded when you gaze out through the window of your soul?

“The unbearable tossing and turning from insomnia in the dead of the night led me to gradually sit up. I got out of bed and walked to the window in the room. The still night was immediately interrupted by flying insects spiraling towards the light from the street lamps outside of my window. From across the street, a flicker of light from another house drew my attention. I could see the silhouette of a woman, a willowy shadow framed with hues of bright tangerine illuminated from behind her. I saw her light up a cigarette and caught a fleeting glimpse of her face in the glow of the flickering flame. She rested her arms on the window sill and began to casually run her fingers through her seemingly tousled hair.

I watched her deliberately take long drags on her cigarette, as if she was sucking in the marrow of life. My mind was transfixed by this enigmatic figure that was becoming more familiar with each inhalation, hers and mine. The smoke drifted up into the night air and I traced it with my eyes and imagined that they were carrying along all of her secrets with it. Secrets that I longed to know.

I stood there for a long time, etching her counters into my mind, until finally she stubbed out her cigarette and turned away from the window. I gazed until her silhouette was a blur and the window turned into another gaping hole that was interwoven with the darkness of the street.

Everything was still again, lest for the insects that were still hurling themselves against the burning bulbs. I laid in bed, glancing at a window that now framed a lonely crescent in the sky. I tried to retrace her shape and for a brief moment seized a quick glimpse of her face in my mind again, before that fragment of her faded away. I knew that I would never forget her, the stranger in the night.”

About Jolene Lai:
After studying painting at Lasalle-SIA College of the Arts in Singapore, Jolene studied graphic design at UCLA and spent a year working at movie-poster design house, The Refinery Creative, before returning to focus on fine art.

She works primarily with oil on canvas or mixed media on water color paper. With bold use of color, shape and intricate detail, she creates images with a seductive aesthetic and subject matter that weaves in emotions of whimsy, melancholy, irony and absurdity.

Lai seeks to engage her audience in works that are approachable, newly imagined spaces that the viewer is invited to explore on their own terms.

Lai is inspired by everything from mythologies, Asian culture, and children’s stories, to fashion editorials, cityscapes, and illustration. She is always seeking new “sets” and stages for her characters and their outlandish encounters. Aesthetically, her work combines the beautiful and the grotesque with the quiet and the excessive in fluid and unexpected ways, just as innocence in her imagery tends to be shadowed by the suggestion of something sinister or dark. Her previous work has included strangely faceted, marionette-like figures, faceless characters, doubles, automatons, and stylized doll-like girls. Her imagery remains universally accessible in its psychologically motivated nuance.

‘Three Halves’
(The Doghouse Gallery)

In the Dog House, Thinkspace Projects presents the debut exhibition from TENSER. ‘Three Halves,’ curated by Carmen Acosta, is a true depiction of the life he has lived thus far, drawing on studio work, graffiti, and street portraits to highlight a theme he has developed over the last 13 years. TENSER’s work is expansive yet approachable enough to appeal to a wide audience. His classically trained background brings a level of refinement to all aspects of his work including his large-scale portraits on public structures to the elaborate yet temporary graffiti on billboards, rooftops, and alleyways.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, TENSER is an active figure in the Los Angeles street art culture and has been producing work locally and nationally for the last 13 years.

TENSER’s work is expansive yet approachable enough to appeal to a wide audience. His classically trained background brings a level of refinement to all aspects of his work including his large-scale portraits on public structures to the elaborate yet temporary graffiti on billboards, rooftops, and alleyways.

‘Spirit Ditch’
(Viewing Room)

Our viewing room holds a special installation from Al Marcano, an American contemporary artist currently working in the Joshua Tree area of Southern California. Marcano is inspired by his love of collectibles, his devotion to all things kitsch, and his love of skateboarding.

Marcano’s vibrant work is best described as modern day folk art. This new body of work features a vast array of small and medium scale pieces brought together to form his ‘Spirit Ditch’ installation.

Interview with Allison Bamcat for ‘Fish Fingers’  | Exhibition September 2 – September 23, 2023

Photo by Birdman

Thinkspace is excited to present Allison Bamcat for Fish Fingers,’ where a menagerie of animals and creatures serve as avatars for the artist herself, assembling a series of surreal snapshots of her own personal journey, one of beautiful growth and also the simmer of trauma. With her candy-coated landscapes, there is an underlying sense of unease, whether through the piercing gaze of a voyeur parrot or in the melting and sinking of her figures. The loss of innocence and a sense of calm-among-the-chaos are feelings works to depict through the use of stark, flat fields of color against her obsessively-detailed brushwork. The velvet finish of gouache matched with her love of wood and paper leave subtle textures for her images to pop off of. She works to hypnotize her audience through her dizzying use of color and detail in her current body of acryla gouache paintings.

Our interview with Bamcat shares what a typical day is like for her at the studio, what show/music she watches/listens to while painting, her most/least favorite part of her creative process, and where she gets her inspirations from.

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

For ‘FISH FINGERS,’ I wanted to continue my exploration of objects as creatures, creatures as ghosts, and other hybridized forms. I have a fascination with biology, especially the failed branches of evolution: the creatures that are extinct (not by human hands but by time). I learned a lot about how many generations it takes an animal to create specialized characteristics in the wild, such as camouflage, developing poison glands, or adaptive features like long tongues for slurping up termites.

Probably once per day, I get hit with the realization that even contemplating existence, or my existence, or the existence of these themes at all is something very unique to my experience as a human living in 2023. Existing at all, long enough to contemplate, is amazing and kind of unlikely given the age of the earth and humans and living things.

The most challenging piece among the group of nine was probably the main piece, ‘Delicious.’ My work is very colorful typically, but I wanted to invite some rich, velvety black stripes and claws to make this painting stand out. Working with acryla gouache, a matte paint, black tends to look very chalky and scratches easily, so I developed an even darker color using several highly-pigmented colors to create what I lovingly refer to as “mud.” Adding a satin varnish to this piece is also something I’ve been slowly experimenting with, as a matte finish does no justice to the richness of the darks versus lights in the piece. It was a fantastic challenge and I’m very proud of how spooky and creepy my character came out (especially his little ring with the fish crawling out of the ocean on it).

What does a day in the studio look like for you? How do you structure your days?

My days in my home studio are varied: some days the house is a wreck or I need to focus on my diet, so art takes a backseat. Having my brain wrapped around chores and errands puts my creativity into hiding, so I tend to wait for full days of drawing to open up, or full days of painting without distraction.

My working days consist of waking up between 7-10am, grabbing coffee from the kitchen, and I wait until lunch in the afternoon or evening to take a real break. I throw on some music or a horror movie I’ve seen before and clean off my work desk, a big beautiful metal drafting table I got off of craigslist a decade ago. I get up a few times to change out water, but I’m good at staying on task for hours at a time. In the evening, if I want to work late, I’ll crack a beer and keep working until I’m satisfied with my efforts for the day, which could be anywhere from 10pm-2am. But late nights mean late starts, so unless I’m REALLY in the groove, I grab some leftovers and stare at my phone for a bit before bed.

Do you have any rituals that help you tap into a creative flow?

Spending a lot of time spacing out is essential for my creativity. I find it difficult to be “creative on-demand,” so oftentimes I get small ideas and write them down, such as a texture or an animal I’d like to paint. I have physical lists and inspiration boards with post-its as well as notes in my phone.

Going on walks and looking at the plants and flowers in my neighborhood is always good for clearing the air in my noisy brain so I can get the ideas flowing.

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

My favorite part of the creative process is watching the last 10% of a painting come together. Bells go off in my head when I feel like I’ve completed something better than what I’ve made in the past. The feeling of leveling up and improving is addicting.

My least favorite part of the creative process is documenting it. While I’m working, I make so many alterations and go over lines many times to get them as crispy clean as possible. I rarely feel like I get the “money shot” of pulling a good line, and honestly I’m not very video-minded when it comes to assembling a video. If I could erase this expectation of social media for artists to also entertain, I’d live with a lot less anxiety, haha. 

Who are some of your creative influences? Why do they inspire you?

I’m inspired by so many artists it’s dizzying. Working at an art store in college, I remember flipping through Juxtapoz and Hi Fructose while things were slow, becoming obsessed with pop surrealism and avant garde forms of art. My mind was especially blown by mural art. When I later got opportunities to see Tristan Eaton, Audrey Kawasaki, Ron English and Marka 27 painting walls, something in me changed at the sight of artists taking on such gigantic (literally) undertakings.

I’m really grateful to have so many friends in Los Angeles who are artists who are working through the same issues and struggles in their careers as I am, so I really look up to my local crew including The Obanoth, Mister Toledo, Andrea Guzzetta, Sean Keeton, and so many more.

Artists I admire for their strong career, their mastery of their medium, and their trailblazing in contemporary art include my heroes Jeff Soto, Scott Listfield, Kayla Mahaffey, Joseph Gordon, Yoko d’Holbachie, Charlie Immer, Christian Rex Van Minnen, and Baghead. Watching someone foster what they are amazing at is a beacon of light as an emerging artist. Seeing the quality of work these artists produce is electrifying in person and so exciting to see online. They keep me hungry for the next ten and twenty years of my career.

Artists whose work really speaks to me personally are artists like Yoko Kuno (a Japanese painter of sad stuffed animals), Paolo Puck (needle-felting genius), Kaley Flowers (experimental ceramics artist out of Toronto, and Graham Yarrington (Brooklyn painter).

If you could have any skill or topic downloaded into your brain, what would you want to be able to do / be an expert at?

One thing I’d love to be an expert in is figure drawing. Figures and humans haven’t been a focal point of my work for years because I’ve been fostering my menagerie of creatures, but I’d love to work more figures into my work eventually. It seems as if many of my favorite artists have their signature style of drawing and painting people, but I know it took them a while to get there. Maybe I’m ready to try anyways?

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

It’s my hope that when folks see my art in person, they see something new. While pop surrealism isn’t a new type of art, I love how varied and strange it can be. Have you ever seen a cauldron walking on all fours? Or a monster made of ice cream scoops hanging out in Joshua Tree? Now you have!

But ultimately, I hope that the audience who views my work sees that a human made it, a soft and sad but vibrant and crazy person. I hope they can find ways to relate to the creatures and scenes I’ve birthed in a way that they can interpret through their own experiences. The overall mood or vibe of my individual paintings is the most important thing I try to communicate, but I love hearing others’ interpretations more than my own backstory, typically.  It’s beautiful to see someone get excited about something you made and relate to it in their own way.

How do you like to enjoy your time outside of the studio? Do you celebrate the completion of a body of work?

Time outside my studio or my house is rare, as I feel like I’m always trying to keep up with my commitments and what the rest of the world is doing on social media. I don’t really celebrate my work unless there’s a gallery opening, as I’m hungry to keep improving and looking back and digesting is difficult for me. It’s probably not healthy, but if no one’s throwing the party for me, it probably won’t happen. Haha.

If you could collaborate with any artists in any sort of medium (i.e. movies, music, painting) who would you collaborate with, and what would you be making?

Honestly, I’d love a chance to design some props or background elements for animation and video games. Conceptual art is so amazing to me, and I’d love to dip my toes in someday, but I’m not sure if that’s something you can just do casually or on a freelance basis.

When I worked in footwear design, it was always exciting to see my designs come to fruition, so being able to work on fashion or product design more often would be great! There are a lot of indie brands I’d love to work with, but it’s thrilling to see your art in a big-box store too.

It would be amazing to see my work in 3D too, as a vinyl toy or a statue or even as a parade float! Or jewelry!

Who would be on the guest list if you could throw a dinner party for five people, dead or alive? What would be on the menu? What would be the icebreaker question?

If I could pick five guests for my dinner party, it would be comedian Chris Fleming, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden, another comedian Duncan Trussell, my best friend since middle school Stephanie D’Angelo-Early, and the late and great biologist Steve Irwin. We would laugh and drink wine and Steve would pass around cool animals for us to admire and hold maybe.

What was in your musical rotation during the development of this body of work?

My musical taste is a bit all over the place, but some of the musicians I listened to the most while creating these pieces are Supertramp (specifically Breakfast in America), The Mars Volta, Alice in Chains, A Perfect Circle (of which I got the title “Delicious” for one of my pieces from), Ghost, Queens of the Stone Age, and Nine Inch Nails. If I didn’t have music on, I put on marathons of horror movies, old and new, to pass the time and keep me awake. I made a point to rewatch “Silence of the Lambs” (a classic banger) and finally watch Ari Aster’s “Beau Is Afraid”, which was a beautiful but anxiety-inducing three hours.

But, typically, I have reruns of the show Hoarders running at all hours when I’m working. I’ve seen every episode about five times.