Jolene Lai’s ‘Beside You’ Coming February 2017

Jolene Lai Beside You Ad

Jolene Lai
Beside You
February 4 – February 25, 2017

Thinkspace is pleased to present new works by Jolene Lai in her third solo exhibition with the gallery, Beside You. Known for her narrative paintings in which characters are caught somewhere between dream and dread, Lai reimagines archetypal stories drawn from myth, Chinese folklore, and fairytale and transforms them into surreal compositions. By combining the uncanny with familiar scenes and contexts from the everyday, Lai arrests our imaginations in a state of suspended disbelief. Her world is full of contrasts, extended metaphors, disorienting manifestations of fantasy, and hallucinatory dreamscapes weaved into otherwise familiar settings. In Beside You, Lai explores a progression of childhood scenes gone strangely awry, where the imagery is both whimsical and increasingly phobic. The playful naiveté of the children’s story ebbs into an ever encroaching sense of darkness and ends, entangled, in shadowy linings.

Born in Singapore and now based in Los Angeles, Lai studied graphic design and began her career designing movie posters. She eventually decided to pursue her fine art practice exclusively, exhibiting solo for the first time in 2012. Lai works primarily in oil on canvas and mixed media on watercolor paper to create beautifully chromatic works, densely populated with characters and haunted by ambiguous stories. Devised to be freely read by the viewer, Lai stages compelling, and at times puzzling, scenes that lead us down the proverbial rabbit hole. In BesideYou Lai begins with the familiar as a point of entry into the work, whether it be a domestic interior or an urban setting, and then allows the illogical progress of fantasy to overcome the conventions of reality.

Lai is inspired by everything from mythologies, Asian culture, and children’s stories, to fashion editorials, cityscapes, and illustration. She is always seeking new “sets” and stages for her characters and their outlandish encounters. Aesthetically, her work combines the beautiful and the grotesque with the quiet and the excessive in fluid and unexpected ways, just as innocence in her imagery tends to be shadowed by the suggestion of something sinister or dark. Her previous work has included strangely faceted, marionette-like figures, faceless characters, doubles, automatons, and stylized doll-like girls. Her imagery remains universally accessible in its psychologically motivated nuance.

Beside You is a world of melancholic nostalgia in which a little girl can as easily dissolve into candy as she can laugh amidst a city invasion of monster octopi. Here, a house fills with water as a quiet onlooker observes the descent of the drowned, and a carousel horse bursts through an otherwise ordinary domestic interior. There are no impediments to the possible here; it is a world unhinged from plausibility and law. When we look at Lai’s work in Beside You, we are asked to project, to infer, and to create stories, to draw from the trappings of our own memories.

A mirror to our fantasies and subconscious, Lai’s work pulls us into the thick.

Stephanie Buer “Uncommon Silence” Coming January 2017

Stephanie Buer

Uncommon Silence

Opening Reception: Saturday, January 7 from 6-9PM
On View: January 7 – January 28, 2017

Thinkspace is pleased to present new works by Portland-based artist Stephanie Buer in Uncommon Silence, the artist’s fifth show with the gallery. Buer’s incredibly realistic paintings and charcoal drawings capture the vacant and desolate sprawl of abandoned urban spaces. An avid urban explorer, she seeks the quietude and calm of inactive buildings and areas, those marginalized and in disrepair. Capturing the life in absentia of these architectures and environments as they are overcome by vandalism, nature, and time, Buer finds beauty in the remnants that are left behind.

Buer went to art school in Detroit, Michigan at the College for Creative Studies, and spent the following decade in the area, capturing the infamous urban erosion left by the collapse of the American auto industry. In Detroit, a unique city with a host of abandoned industrial vestiges, Buer sated her need for contemplative calm and escapism through urban exploration. Interested in the layers of history that accrete in emptiness, and the stark contrast of desolation in the midst of excessively populated urban areas, Buer’s work began to question our relationship to excessive consumerism and unsustainable consumption through depictions of dissipated spaces. She likens the feeling of isolated discovery when traipsing through condemned buildings and architectural ruins, to her remote wanderings through rural Michigan where she grew up. In search of a poetic calm and beauty in the midst of what most would consider deterioration, she continues to uncover the oft-neglected sublime of the condemned and castaway.

Moving to the Pacific Northwest, where she continues to work, Buer has since begun to capture new cities and spaces through her photorealistic oil paintings and heavily contrasting, dramatic charcoal drawings. Her preference for traditional art historical media is a conscious one, fascinated by how the same media used for centuries can capture a contemporary moment without loss or inadequacy. In Uncommon Silence, Buer has taken on the city of Los Angeles as her subject for the first time, the result of a week spent exploring its recesses and urban derelicts; the works capture the light and atmospheric nature of LA in stark contrast to those of Detroit. An homage to a city that has played an integral role in the development of her career, the exhibition captures the specificity of LA as a place of great cultural and environmental contrasts, architectural diversity, fullness, and scarcity. Known for its murals, contemporary art scene, graffiti, and urban interventions, LA provided Buer with no shortage of color or drama in the landscape.

Her works begin with the journey into the city, where she documents her explorations photographically. Buer then creates compositions from her source material and executes the work with a staggering level of technical precision and detail. Always devoid of people, Buer’s works capture the traces of their intervention and the marks of their passing, whether through the shadow of the hollow structure itself or the evidentiary residues of physical interactions with the space. A recurring element in her work has always been graffiti, a primary way in which forgotten urban spaces are marked and reclaimed. The sense of collapsing temporality is salient, as old and new coexist on top of one another in these peripheries.

‘There It Is’ this January at Thinkspace

The work of Oakland artist Adam Caldwell - featured in 'There It Is' this January at Thinkspace

Coming up this January at Thinkspace:
‘There It Is’ featuring the works of three Oakland based artists in our main gallery

Adam Caldwell
Brett Amory
Seth Armstrong

Take a look inside the Oakland studios of the three artists featured in ‘There It Is’ here:

Get ready for an amazing display of painterly skill this coming January when ‘There It Is’ opens to the public on Sat, January 8th at Thinkspace in Culver City.