Interview with Manuel Zamudio for “Intersections” | Exhibition on view February 5 – February 26 at Thinkspace Projects

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.

Interview with Manuel Zamudio for upcoming exhibition ‘Sunsets In The Apocalypse’

Thinkspace is pleased to present ‘Sunsets In The Apocalypse’ from Mexico-city born and McAllen, Texas-based artist Manuel Zamuido.

As a self-taught artist, Zamudio started perfecting his technique by replicating comic books, without knowing or understanding the human figure, and the concepts of color schemes. Once Zamudio grew older he started taking an interest in the urban culture of South Texas, learning color scheme, perception, shadow and so on from local graffiti artists.

Zamudio’s new body of work has been immensely inspired by great works of cinematography, street art, and post-apocalyptic sci-fi novels. Using portraits as a snapshot of his own movie, blending reality with the surreal.

In anticipation of ‘Sunsets In The Apocalypse’, our interview with Zamudio discusses cinematography, his inspiration for the show, and how he taps into creative flow.

For those unfamiliar with your work, can you share a little about your artistic background and how you became connected with Thinkspace Projects?

Well I am a self-taught artist and I’ve been drawing since I was very young. About a decade ago I really got into graffiti and it was there that I really got into color schemes and trying to become a more technical artist. The graffiti crew I was with taught me a lot. The last few years is when I started to mix graffiti into my paintings and the color schemes I was using then, but instead of focusing on graffiti characters I decided to go with portraits, so kind of mixing two worlds together and giving it an apocalyptic vibe. I became connected to ThinkSpace through the happy place contest they held this year due to the Covid pandemic. I was very fortunate to win the contest and start working with them.

What is the inspiration behind this latest body of work?

Ever since I was a child I was very interested in the apocalypse, sci-fi, comics and those kinds of things. In the last couple of years I started getting into cinematography and trying to understand films a little bit more visually. So when I wanted to start changing the kind of work I was doing, transitioning from graffiti characters to more of a realistic body of work, I decided to use my love of film and my love of apocalyptic story telling as inspiration. Then once the pandemic hit, I feel my work took much of a darker turn as far as the apocalyptic scenery. Like the classic line goes “does art imitates life?” here, life imitates art.

Do you have any pre-studio rituals that help you tap into creative flow?

I think the two main rituals for me when trying to build a piece are going on long runs with a film score on play, that can help me visualize and feel what I want to say with the work. The other is watching movies at the end of the night and dissecting the cinematography.

What was the most challenging piece in this body of work and why?

I think the most challenging for me was “Childhood Fears” just because of the detail and its larger size. I remembered having to work four 10-12 hour days back to back, I definitely had a work hang over after that haha.

Who are some of your creative influences? They do not have to be painters, but those whose work has inspired you and impacted you creatively. 

Some of the most influential people for me the past decade or so would have to be Stanley Kubrick because his beautiful work and discipline with his craft. Another would be Terrence McKenna because his books and talks can really help you think outside the box. Last but not least is Nas because in his early work he spoke a lot about rising above terrible life situations which really helped me stay on track. In general a lot of the golden era hip hop inspires me, I guess that’s where my love for graffiti came from.

If you could sacrifice one of your five senses in exchange for psychic ability would you? And what sense would you give up?

I think I would definitely give up smell, I’d get used to it. For sure worth the psychic ability.

It’s an unprecedented time as we’re experiencing a global pandemic. How have you been coping/ navigating life during this time?

Since the quarantine and lockdowns have been happening I think it really just made me put even more time into my work, it just made me more focused especially getting ready for the show. Not too many distractions.

Do you have a party trick? i.e. A trick such as might be performed at a party for entertainment; an unusual act regarded as one’s speciality.

I don’t know if I can consider this a party trick. But I am extremely clumsy, so usually at a party I always spill a beer or drop something. I think my friends are used to it by now. Haha

If your work inspired a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor what would be the ingredients and the name of the pint?

Chaotic Enlightenment Cherry Swirl

Opening Reception: Saturday, December 12 from noon to 6 pm in Gallery I

masks and social distancing required at all times

On view December 12, 2020 through January 2, 2021