Thinkspace Projects is pleased to present Manuel Zamudio as part of our new group exhibition, “Intersections”. The exhibition is a solo show for each artist in their own right and continues to build on their momentum into 2022. Each artist’s work is unified by storytelling, displaying an array of memories and experiences within the walls of the gallery.
Manuel Zamudio also brings the theme of life and death into his collection, focusing on the transition between them. He maintains the post-apocalyptic world that he had built with his previous solo show here at Thinkspace, but delves into architecture and urban landscape as a foundation for the exploration of the afterlife. With new-age ghost-inspired characters, Zamudio explores the delicate line between life and death, which grows thinner every day. He highlights the fragile boundaries between body and soul, life and death, day and night, living in the transitions.
In our interview with Manuel Zamudio, he shares with us his bad habits, how his work has helped to heal past trauma, and the artistic influence of Dragon Ball Z.
Can you share with us a little bit about your upbringing and where you are currently creating?
I was born in Mexico City; years later my family and I came over to the United States, and we landed in South Texas. Since the transition was a difficult one and we did not have our papers, we really couldn’t move around so we stayed in Texas. Growing up was difficult, especially during my teens, since there weren’t a lot of different cultures in the area, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to love the peacefulness of it. I’m still currently living in South Texas and it’s where I create.
What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? What themes have you been exploring in your work?
With this body of work, I still kept the post-apocalyptic world that I had built with my previous solo show. But this time around I delved into architecture and ways to bring these people into an urban landscape. The main theme explored is the transition from life to death. It didn’t start out that way but it slowly began building into that. I also started incorporating new characters into my world, like new age ghosts type of characters, which bring the theme of the afterlife into play. I lost my father at a very young age and it was very traumatic. I think this show really has helped me bring closure to that aspect of my life.
Could you share what your day-to-day looks like when working in your studio
Sure! I usually wake up and go straight for the coffee, as most of us do. If I’m in the middle of a painting, I just go right into it. I’ll start the day off painting, take a break to have breakfast, then go back for a couple of hours, take another break for lunch, etc. In the evening I usually go for a long run, little bit over an hour. Then head back into the studio and work into the late night/early morning. I try to get in at least 8 hours of work a day.
What’s in your “artistic toolbox”? Are you particular about brands that you use?
I think my toolbox is pretty standard: mediums, paints, brushes. But lately, I’ve been starting to buy different higher quality brands, especially with paint, and it makes all the difference in the world. So I’m not particular about brands but just the quality. I also hoard a ton of brushes, that way when I’m working and need a fresh brush, I just open a new pack. Kind of a bad habit, haha.
How do you like to unwind outside of the studio?
I usually like to curl up with a good video game at the end of the day, maybe a good movie. I also really enjoy grabbing dinner and beers with friends.
Do you have a process for sourcing and/or keeping track of your inspiration?
I usually have a string of ideas of things that I want to work on, so when I shoot my reference photos I capture a few ideas at once and have them ready for the next piece. Of course, I will go back and change things, move things around, but the ideas are set.
What was on your playlist while creating this new body of work?
A lot of ambient music/electronic music was on my playlist, especially at the beginning when building ideas. Artists like Haircuts for Men, Aphex Twin, and Harold Budd were in rotation to name a few. The music really helped me build an understanding of the atmosphere I was trying to go for.
Most artists express themselves creatively as a child, but there is a moment when a shift occurs from just being creatively inclined to being more artistically minded – do you know when that moment was for you?
I had always been drawing and doodling as a kid, but there was a moment for me early on, when I was around 11. During this particular moment it had been a few weeks, maybe two months after my dad passed and I had an epiphany that I wanted to become an artist. Mind you, this happened while I was drawing a large-scale Dragon Ball Z piece. That moment always stuck with me, it was euphoric; I truly felt in that moment being an artist was it for me, nothing else.
Have you ever worked outside creating public murals? If not, would you be interested in pursuing one day?
I had the pleasure of being a part of POW!WOW! Lancaster in 2020, and prior to that I’ve done a few graffiti murals, since that’s what got me into painting. I really would like to learn more and follow the art of mural painting at a more professional level, hopefully later on.
What words of wisdom would you share with your past self when you were just starting to create art? Is there anything in your artistic journey that you wish you may have done differently?
I think that the best advice I could give to my younger self is not to waste time on self-doubt, or the doubts of others. I think if I had done that and focused more, I could’ve become a better artist at a faster rate. But like they say, everything happens for a reason and you are where you need to be.
What did you find to be the biggest challenge of 2020 for you?
The biggest challenge for me in 2020 was transitioning to a full-time artist during a pandemic. It was a strange and trying time, I had to be aware of the world but also separate myself from it in order to create. It felt surreal.
What is your proudest accomplishment of 2021? Life thus far? (can be art-related or not)
I think becoming a full-time working artist is the biggest one for me so far. It’s been my dream for so many years. Shout out to my wife, I could not have done it without her!
After the show in February, I have a split 2 person show with A Hurd Gallery and a feature at Archenemy Gallery. Excited to see what the future brings!
MANUEL ZAMUDIO Artist Statement
The delicate line between life and death grows thinner every day. Along with that dissolution, other threads come unraveled. Perception shifts, and memories can blur until they don’t feel like our own.
Are we united in the disintegration? Body and soul, dust and stardust, the boundaries breaking down until only that which is shared endures. Then we are finally something other than a body, a mirror more than flesh.
Or are alienated spirits connected only in their collective struggle? Drifting through shades of experience and longing to escape the mundane. Feeling its pull from purity to profane as powerless observers.
In any order of our experience, there is a perpetual transition between states of being. Death amidst life, night within day, the carnal enveloped by the ethereal. The cosmic dance between is the grace and terror of existence.