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