An Interview with James Bullough for group exhibition ‘GUMBO’

Jame Bullough piece for Gumbo

A short but sweet interview with James Bullough for his upcoming show ‘GUMBO’ at Thinkspace Gallery. ‘GUMBO’ will be featuring new pieces from seven Thinkspace artists who all bring a different style, voice, and flavor to their art. GUMBO opens Saturday April 25th from 6-9pm, and will be on view till May 16th. 

SH: What artist in the upcoming ‘Gumbo’ show would you want to collaborate with and why?
JB: I absolutely love Ryan Hewett’s work. I first saw one of his pieces in Berlin at the Thinkspace curated LAX/TXL show at Urban Nation and was immediately captivated by it. Being a realist painter myself I have always admired painters with a looser, more intuitive approach like Ryan’s. Besides the obvious connection of portraiture in each of our own works it is hard to find many other similarities. This vast contrast in styles and approach is extremely interesting to me and could result in something really special. I also feel like I could learn a lot from watching him work and sharing ideas.

Troy Coulterman would also be a nice collaboration combo. What’s really interesting about him is that when I first came across his work last year in Miami at the Aqua art fare I realized that he and I have actually already done some work that is eerily similar. He has these amazing hand sculptures that are cut up and glitched out similar to what I do in my work. It would be awesome to push this even further and see what we could come up with together. I’ve also always wanted to try and paint onto a 3D object, such as a glitched out hand, and see how realistic I could get it to look. …hmmm, actually this collaboration is starting to sound pretty good. I might have to make a phone call to Troy.

SH: When do you get the most work done; morning, noon, or night?
JB: I’m all over the place. I haven’t had internet in my studio for a little over a year now which I find really cuts down on distractions and ups my productivity a lot, but what that also means is that I have to do all of my administrative work in the mornings before I head off to the studio for the day so my mornings are pretty productive but not with anything fun. Once I get into the studio around lunch time and turn my creative brain on I tend to work straight through for 6 or 7 hours with very few breaks. Leading up to a show can sometimes get crazy with more like 10 or 12 hour studio sessions or longer.

SH: In three words, describe your artwork.
JB: I only need two… ‘Shifted Realism’

SH: How long does it take you to finish a piece? What is your processes?
JB: I tend to take a day or two just for the planning and prepping for a new painting. I start by picking a surface from my stockpile of old wood and metal in my studio, or if I’m working on canvas I’ll determine the size and build it out. The size, shape, and material of the surface helps determine what I will paint. I’m extremely picky about selecting just the right image and experimenting with different ways to break it up and alter it. There’s always hours and hours of unsuccessful experiments before I land on something good. Once the image is all set I try to do a quick underpainting in one day, covering the entire piece depending on the size. From there I can start working on the fun part of adding detailed layers of oil paint over the underpainting. Two layers seems to be working for me at the moment but sometimes it can take a couple more to get it just right. All in, I guess it takes about a week or a week and a half per painting
Ironically when it comes to painting murals, I can paint a 20×50 foot wall with spray cans in about half the time it takes me to do a 20×20 inch oil painting in the studio. Go figure.

james bullough piece 2 for gumbo

SH: Do you remember the first time you showed your work to the public? Where was it?
JB: About seven years ago just for fun I started making paintings in my basement in the evenings after my day job as a middle school teacher in Baltimore. Two years later I met a guy in a bar who had a gallery in Brooklyn and he asked to see some of my work. I showed him some stuff on my phone and he invited me to be part of a showcase at his gallery with about ten other artists. I showed 7 or 8 pieces in that show, two of which were good and the rest were terrible but the experience was amazing. It was just the spark I needed in my life and in less than one year from that opening night I had quit my job of nearly a decade, sold my house and all my possessions, and moved to Berlin to paint full time. Second best decision I’ve made in my life so far.

SH: Do you have any wise words for a fledgling artist who admires your work?
JB: Yeah, listen to my radio show! Every other week I interview a different artist or gallerist for an hour and get the whole story about how and why they came to do what they do. There’s no single formula to success, especially in the art game so hearing all the different approaches and journeys that different artists take is extremely helpful and inspirational. Not to mention it’s basically the best thing you can listen to in your studio while you’re working on your own work. And I hear the host is pretty good too… just sayin.

The show is called VantagePoint. You can listen to or download any of the shows from the past year and a half on our website www.VantagePointRadio.com or subscribe to it on iTunes and thank me later.

SH: Bonus question: Speaking of gumbo, have you ever been to New Orleans? If so, tell us a tale! If not, tell us another tale.
JB: Nope I’ve never been to New Orleans, but I’ve got a Creole uncle who makes a mean Gumbo every thanksgiving. Shouts to big Willie!

gumbo postcard

An Interview with Alex Yanes for new group exhibition ‘GUMBO’

Alex Yanes Aves Fiera

A short but sweet interview with Alex Yanes for his upcoming show ‘GUMBO’ at Thinkspace Gallery. ‘GUMBO’ will be featuring new pieces from seven Thinkspace artists who all bring a different style, voice, and flavor to their art. ‘GUMBO’ opens Saturday April 25th from 6-9pm, and will be on view till May 16th. 

SH: What artist in the upcoming ‘Gumbo’ show would you want to collaborate with and why?
AY: It’s a dead tie between Sergio Garcia & Troy Coulterman. Both of them blew my mind during Art Basel this year! Would be cool to create something really crazy and busy, coming out of the walls with those two.

SH: When do you get the most work done; morning, noon, or night?
AY: I’m a morning person, but work 10 hour days. Cuban expresso all day, everyday.

SH: In three words, describe your artwork.
AY: Clean Calm Collected

SH: How long does it take you to finish a piece? What is your processes?
AY: About a week or so, depending on size. I always work on more than one piece at a time, hate watching paint dry. Usually begins with a rough sketch, then individually hand cut shapes or built out boxes. I transform them into things as I go along, attach them together and there you have it.

Alex Yanes Bubblegum Rider

SH: Do you remember the first time you showed your work to the public? Where was it?
AY: Yup. The bar at the Marlin Hotel on Miami Beach back in 2004. Although according to my Mom, I had a drawing of a rabbit wearing a Walkman, riding a skateboard exhibited at the County Youth Fair when I was in 1st grade.

SH: Do you have any wise words for a fledgling artist who admires your work?AY: I never did it for the money. Trained myself to create every day, even when I don’t feel like it. My Art has always helped me through the low spots in my life and granted me unimaginable accomplishments. People told me I could never make it a career and I stuck with it anyway. Never quit! Although it doesn’t define me as a person, my art is a piece of me. I feel most alive in the studio, in my zone, making something out of nothing.

SH Bonus question: Speaking of gumbo, have you ever been to New Orleans? If so, tell us a tale! If not, tell us another tale.
AY: Nope, but its cousin Key West is only a 2.5 hour drive from Miami. Been there many, many times, but only remember bits and pieces. Cheers!!

gumbo postcard

Group Exhibition GUMBO Opens Saturday April 25, 2015

gumbo postcard

 

Gumbo – Alex Yanes, James Bullough, Matthew Grabelsky, Ryan Hewett, Sergio Garcia, Troy Coulterman, Troy Lovegates

Opening Reception: Saturday April 25th 6-9pm
On view April 25, 2015 – May 16, 2015

Thinkspace is pleased to present Gumbo, a group exhibition featuring works by Alex Yanes, James Bullough, Matthew Grabelsky, Ryan Hewett, Sergio Garcia, Troy Coulterman and Troy Lovegates. A truly divergent group of Thinkspace artists, the show reflects the steadily expanding diversity of the gallery’s roster. Firmly forward-looking, while ambitiously setting the pace for the New Contemporary movement, these artists have phenomenal contributions to make and are consistently raising the standard. Gumbo is an exciting grouping of the gallery’s contrasting visions, personalities and media.

Alex Yanes creates whimsical multi-dimensional works, inspired by everything from subculture to his recent initiation into fatherhood. Based out of Miami, a vibrant urban culture that sings through his aesthetic, Yanes creates installation based pieces out of wood, acrylic, resin and enamel. With hyper-saturated colors and contrasts, immaculately finished surfaces and electric energy, Yanes’ spatial installations and objects command a physical and experiential presence. They combine a graphic sensibility, drawn from his formative years immersed in tattoo, rock, hip-hop and skateboard cultures, and an imaginative expansiveness that transforms the familiar into something entirely new. Elevated by an undeniable vibrance and individuality, his stylized works feel like living things.

James Bullough is an American born artist living and working in Berlin, Germany. His paintings, and huge monumentally scaled site-specific murals, are phenomenal combinations of realist painting technique and graphic punctuation. Inspired by gritty urban graffiti as a young artist growing up in Washington, DC, Bullough harnessed its energy in his work, and perfected a realistic oil painting technique from his study of the Old Masters. Combining the momentum of the one and the technical precision of the other, his work is about staging compelling contrasts and juxtapositions. Working in everything from oil, spray paint and ink on canvas, Bullough’s paintings strike a balance between realistic figurations and stylized interruption. Disjointing the realistic elements with graphic areas and fractured or striated planes, Bullough intends to challenge the viewer’s perception.

Matthew Grabelsky’s implausible, and wonderfully fantastic, paintings depict surreal manifestations of the subconscious in unlikely urban contexts. Influenced by 19th century French Academic painting, his technical sophistication and refinement contribute to the delightful contrast of these unlikely scenes and humorous mixed-reality paintings. In his recent body of work the New York City subways are invaded by quasi-mythical creatures, part human and part beast, or surreal appearances by other wonderful grotesques. In these otherwise unassuming daily scenes of public transit, Grabelsky inserts a cast of characters borrowed from fairytale and the zoo, delighting in the absurd and the impossible. Intending his work to inspire sub-conscious free association in his viewers, Grabelsky plays with context and expectation.

Ryan Hewett approaches portraiture with an expressive and painterly aesthetic. Pursuing the capture of energy rather than the practice of verisimilitude, the South African artist has a distinctive painting style that seizes the energy and observed experience of his sitters. With loosely layered surfaces that emanate depth, light and dimension, Hewett creates emotive and passionate representations that embrace the materiality and texture of his medium. Working with oil paints, his figurative impressions align themselves with the tumultuous tradition of expressionism. With rich hues and suggestive glimpses, his works are intense painterly interpretations of the body.

Sergio Garcia is inspired by the unconventional and the creative subconscious. The Texas based painter and sculptor, constructs works that are surreal combinations that place familiar situations and objects in extraordinary circumstances. A Hyperrealist in the truest sense, his sculptural works are uncannily true to life and play with the viewer’s spatial and contextual expectations. Wonderfully bizarre, they transform the mundane into fantastic phenomena, and encourage mind-boggling encounters in unexpected spaces. Similarly, his paintings offer whimsically unexpected combinations and creatively evocative scenes, inspiring free association and speculative wonder.

Troy Coulterman, Canadian artist, creates resin sculptures that seem like graphic novel or comic book characters come to life. Rich with suggestion, Coulterman artfully conveys ideas, metaphors and themes with graphic concision, capturing extensive narrative moments in a single sculptural body or gesture. Inspired by graphics and comic books, his cast of wonderfully bizarre characters emote and convey with exciting presence. As three-dimensional objects that read partly as animation come to life, and partly as dimensional drawing, they command our attention with an unrelenting pull. Distinctly human in their emotive power, but clearly other in their wonderful absurdity, his figures are captivating.

Troy Lovegates, widely known as “Other”, creates ambitious large-scale mural works with precision and detail. A street artist from Canada, his works are heavily patterned, saturated with hyper color, and incomparably dense and rich. With an impressive attention to detail and line, Lovegates builds figures and motifs through heavily condensed mark making. The figures in his work are wonderfully exaggerated and poetic, sympathetically drawn from equal parts caricature and realistic observation. His smaller format works are executed in several materials, ranging from weathered wood, books, paper and linoleum cuts. Self-described as an artist who enjoys the chaos of simultaneity and messy working conditions, Lovegates is constantly revising and adapting previous efforts, reintegrating them into current bodies of work that reflect the history of their making.