Recap of the Opening Reception of Exhibitions from Yosuke Ueno, Alex Garant, and TikToy

The opening reception of Yosuke Ueno “But Beautiful” and Alex Garant’s “Voyage of the Insomniac” in the Thinkspace main room was a beautiful event. Both artists had prints available that were picked up by dedicated fans. In the project room, we were proud to present “Timewarp” which display the animated clocks of artists TikToy that are reminiscent of the 1989 classic Little Monsters.

Thank you to all that came out to support these incredible shows from all three artists. Congratulations to Yosuke Ueno, Alex Garant & TikToy on beautiful new bodies of work!

All three solo exhibitions are on view through August 25 at Thinkspace and can also be enjoyed via our website at

photos courtesy Bryan Birdman Mier

Interview with Yosuke Ueno for “But Beautiful”

Thinkspace is pleased to present new works by Japanese artist Yosuke Ueno in But Beautiful. Ueno is a self-taught painter based out of Tokyo, and is known for his imaginative, character-driven worlds created in symbolic pursuit of innocence, hope, and positivity.  In anticipation of his upcoming exhibition, our interview with Yosuke Ueno explores the inspiration behind But Beautiful, his creative challenges, and dream collaboration.

Join us for the opening of But Beautiful, Saturday, August 4th from 6 – 9 pm.

SH: How do you approach developing a new body of work? Were there specific themes or techniques you wanted to explore in “But Beautiful”?
YU: Some artworks in this show are based on studies of traditional Japanese paintings. I have been collecting Ukiyoe books and getting many inspirations from those books. Compositions and motifs of those masterpieces can be seen in my works.

The title of this show is a quotation from Bill Evans music. I have no idea what he wanted to tell in the title, but this title seems to have an important meaning for the present world. Every negative sentence could be happier with these two words at the end.

SH: Is there a particular piece in this exhibition you feel really challenged you? If so, why and what makes you proud of this piece?
YU: In this show, I will show few of vertically longer pieces. Those shapes are inspired by Japanese Kakejiku (hanging scrolls). Pigments on paper is a normal style of traditional Kakejiku, but I have tried to reconstruct those originally with acrylic colors on canvas.

SH: Where do you source inspiration?
YU: As I told above, some inspirations are from Japanese Ukiyoe, and I got inspirations from Sukajan (Japanese Souvenir Jacket) as well. Embroideries of those jackets are beautiful arts. I painted animals and skulls with my own interpretation of Ukiyone, and I enjoyed doing that.

SH: How do you capture ideas for pieces; do you have a sketchbook on hand or is it just a note to yourself in your phone?
YU: I always get a small notebook with me, putting every single idea on it. However, I have no idea when and which one of those would come up with an artwork. I also use iPad to make some drawings. For me, there’s no difference between analog and digital in terms of getting ideas output.

SH: How do you plan out your compositions?
YU: I have been devoted to ones seen in Japanese paintings recently. I am interested in how to “paint” empty space.

SH: What excites you about your work / creative process?
YU: My favorite part is the painting process. I make drawing on the canvas first, but I always come up with new components as I paint. That’s exactly what I am excited, I like the way that canvas shows me many different faces as my brushes run over it.

SH: Who is an artist; musician, director, any art form – who would be a dream collaboration for you and what would you create?
YU:  I would like to collaborate with fashion brands, like my art embroidery on clothes.


August 4, 2018 – August 25, 2018

(LOS ANGELES, CA) – Thinkspace is pleased to present new works by Japanese artist Yosuke Ueno in But Beautiful. A self-taught painter based out of Tokyo, Ueno is known for his imaginative, character-driven worlds created in symbolic pursuit of innocence, hope, and positivity. These loosely narrative-based paintings evolve intuitively, the artist’s approach to his compositions seldom premeditated, preferring instead to embrace the creative tangents of his subconscious. By allowing the process of painting to dictate the outcome, the works host a recurring cast of playful creatures, hybrids, and psychotropic fantasies. The artist, amidst these playful gestures, emerges as an inventor of psychedelic metaphor and cultural pastiche, freely combining references to everything from Japanese culture, ancient Greek mythology, Tokyo Street fashion and video games to Disney animation and the Western canon of art history. Driven by a genuine desire to capture our philosophical interconnectivity through art, Ueno’s multicultural references coalesce through the unpretentious spontaneity of his imagination and a fundamental belief in the universality of a shared condition.

Thematically, Ueno’s works are inspired by several influences, including the polytheistic tradition of Japanese Shinto, an ancient Japanese religion with a symbolic tradition of personifying the sacred energies of every living and inanimate thing as individual deities. According to this worldview, the universe is a complex amalgam of sacred, interdependent energies and personalities, and the tangible vessels of this plane, inhabited by the spectral presence of spirits and ancestry. The multiplicity of this theistic framework posits the coexistence of complex symbolic worlds on an infinite level, with entire microcosms existing in endlessly divided parts of the whole: an infinite precondition necessary to the surreal.

Other major influences apparent in Ueno’s works include Japanese Animé, specifically Manga and Studio Ghibli, particularly the works of artist and filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, and theatrical pictorial conventions borrowed from art history, like the memento mori typical of the Baroque or the Northern Renaissance’s penchant for Vanitas, both devices prophetic heralds emphasizing the inevitability of human mortality. Ueno has been known to appropriate classical works of art as well, directly reinterpreting them through the cast of his aesthetic; Johannes Vermeer’s mid-seventeenth century, The Milkmaid, and Manet’s Impressionist masterpiece, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, for instance, have both made appearances in Ueno’s current repertoire.

Unexpected juxtapositions and cleverly contradictory elements emerge and interact within Ueno’s worlds, while a surreal freedom conflates the ordinary restrictions of time and space in support of its fantasies. The ancient and the contemporary are continually recombined, existing on a timeless plane through the simultaneous referencing of the traditional and pop-cultural. The unexpected poetry of these alliances, much like the paintings themselves, reveal complex accretions of cultural sediment, the result of an unimpeded admixture of worlds. Anchored by the concept of Yin and Yang and the elemental balance of the light and dark forces it implies, Ueno’s works strive to capture the plasticity and flux of these energetic constellations as they vie for poetic balance and positive resolve.