Thinkspace presents Cody Jimenez’s ‘Efferverence’, where he explores a world where emotions are embodied in physical forms. The emotions are represented through vibrant colors and shapes that affect their environment and characters around them. By using physical representations of those emotions, he investigates the dualities of beauty and danger that mirror mysterious forces he experiences in his life.
Cody Jimenez is a Mexican-American artist whose work focuses on the natural world through a lens of Imaginative Realism. He received his BFA in painting from NMSU in 2014 and MFA in painting from LCAD in 2017. His work has been exhibited throughout the country, including Los Angeles, CA, Denver, CO, Baton Rouge, LA, and Santa Fe, NM.
Our interview with Cody Jimenez shares how he started working with Thinkspace, his biggest challenge for his solo exhibition, and about the “mysterious forces” he’s experienced in his life.
Can you share a little about your background? How long have you been showing with Thinkspace?
I grew up in Southern New Mexico and now live in Southern California. I moved to CA to get my master’s degree in 2015 and I have been here since. I have been showing with Thinkspace for 2-3 years now. My first show with them was through a contest they were hosting through Instagram. They asked their audience to draw their cat and they happened to like mine enough to include me in a show later that year.
What does having an exhibition up at the Brand Library and Arts Center mean to you?
The opportunity to have an exhibition at the Brand was really an honor. I did not think I would have a chance like this to show a body of work in an amazing venue. Once everything was hung up, and especially with all the artists in this show, it just felt surreal that I was a part of this show.
What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? What themes were you exploring?
I have been exploring these themes of emotions coming to life since about 2015. This exploration of emotions came about when I thought more about how people often have an energy about, and if someone is really angry, sad, or happy, people can often sense this. I have not had the opportunity to really showcase a whole body of work together. I wanted to focus on building my world with narrative and start to hint at stories and relationships in these paintings.
What was the most challenging piece in this exhibition? How did it help you grow as an artist?
I think the painting of my daughter, “12 Years”, was the most challenging. My initial sketch was different, she was running and it was a intended to be an active composition. When getting photos of her for reference, my idea wasn’t translating. After the 4-5 attempts of taking photos, I was looking through them and I came across one of her walking slowly while I was checking the lighting and this photo had a subtlety I really liked. I ended up using that one as a reference for the painting, it felt more like her and I just rolled with that idea. This taught me a lesson in just being open to different ideas and not to be so fixated on what I think something should be.
The opening at The Brand Library and Art Center was quite the scene; what was one of your favorite moments from the evening?
Aside from talking to so many new people, one of my favorite moments was seeing people I didn’t know taking pictures of my artwork and bringing people into my area. It was one of those things I just did not expect to happen.
Do you have any rituals that help you tap into a creative flow? What does a day in the studio look like for you? How do you structure your days?
When I’m able to have a full studio day, I like to take care of household chores in the morning, clean dishes, make coffee, etc., and then start drawing/painting. I am a creature of habit, and in general, that is a daily thing for me. This just helps me not have other responsibilities looming over my head. It is a boring ritual shrugging emoji. An ideal studio day is when I can paint for a couple of hours, snack, more painting, walk the dog, paint, practice something on guitar, eat dinner, and paint up until bedtime. Thats a rare day, but when it happens its a dream.
The red panda and ravens are recurring spirits in your work. What draws you to these creatures specifically?
I have been completely enamored with red pandas for many years now. I even have a red panda tattoo on my right shoulder. Something about those animals is just captivating to me. Most seem to have a vast array of obvious personalities. They’re an endangered species, and surprisingly not many people know they’re actual name or what they are. Usually I hear, “Oh what a nice looking fox/cat” and I can understand why they think that, but it’s nice to tell them all about red pandas if that happens.
With ravens, other birds, I just love the variety of them. Also, they’re just dinosaurs, especially great blue herons. Those are some vicious birds, have you seen their feet and claws?? But I think a lot of these birds have this gracefulness and aggressiveness to them that can be fun to portray, it can really help a story in a painting.
You’ve shared in other interviews how your daughter’s curiosity when observing the world around her has influenced how you reframe your approach to looking at the world, and she is the subject of your piece “12 Years.” What are a few of the other lessons she’s taught you, and how have they influenced how you move through the world and your artistic evolution?
The strangest thing about having a kid is that they’re growing and changing all the time. It has been hard to realize that at times. It was not instantaneous, but this has taught me to be open to new things in the world and not expect the same results from something. The world is constantly changing, and if I were to just be old man about it and say “back in my day” (which is not even that long ago), I would just be a fool. I have to adapt and keep learning. That spills over into my artistic evolution as well, adapt and keep learning, or just be an old fool.
Can you elaborate on the “mysterious forces” you experience in your life? Are you familiar with the various clair-senses?
To me “mysterious forces” encompasses a lot of different things. I think the best example is what happened to me before my daughter was born. The summer of 2010, I had been out with my friends camping on July 3rd and drove back home the next morning. I was running on very little sleep, fell asleep at the wheel at 75mph, went off one side of the highway, overcorrected and flipped off the other side of the highway. My car flipped a few times and I was completely unharmed. Not a scratch on me. Later that year, my daughter was born. It could all be coincidental, a great safety rating on the car I was driving, or something more. I tend to fall in line with something more, that is the “mysterious force”. I actually wasn’t aware of the clair-senses, it seems worth understanding a bit more.
The environments you create put emotions into a physical form, and as an Aquarius, one of the signs that are known for emotional detachment. Do you feel that by painting emotion you’ve been able to understand your own landscape better? Or is astrology bunk and you’ve always been comfortable with all the feels?
Not that I don’t believe in astrology, but I never realized that was an attribute of an Aquarius. I do feel that being able to focus on some events in my life, I can allow myself to really process what the subject or story means to me. I am such a slow processor of information and my own emotions.
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?
Oh thats an easy one for me, Gustavo Rimada’s painting “La Hada”. I have loved his work for so long. This painting has a great composition and delicate rendering. There is the Guillermo Del Toro references, and there’s just a lot to admire in this painting.
On view only until this Friday March 17th at The Brand Library and Arts Center in Glendale, California.