To view available works from these talented artists visit the Thinkspace Projects website.
Thinkspace is proud to present After Glow featuring new paintings and works on paper by Rodrigo Luff. Luff’s personally inflected figurative works blend realism and fantasy, recombining the edges of the probable with the incandescence of daydream.
In anticipation of After Glow, our interview with Rodrigo Luff discusses the highs and lows of the creative process and the piece that was most challenging for him.
SH: For those that are not familiar with you and your work, can you give us a brief look at your artistic background?
RL: I studied at the Julian Ashton Art School in Sydney, Australia from 2006-09 where I learned life drawing and first started to catch the painting bug!
In April/May 2011, I had my first two solo exhibitions in the U.S, one of them being the Moleskine Project at Spoke Art Gallery which sold out. Since then, it has become an annual group exhibition that I co-curate with Spoke Art and we’ve published two volumes of books compiling Moleskine artwork from the exhibitions. We just had our 8th annual show!
I’ve been regularly exhibiting with Thinkspace Projects since 2012 and have developed my style of blending the natural world with surreal imagination through these shows. Afterglow marks the third solo show here and has given me the chance to take my work to the next level and show some larger and more complex depth paintings.
SH: How do you approach starting a new body of work? What inspired this exhibition?
RL: My goal was to take the style and techniques I developed in my previous 2016 “Nemeta” solo exhibition at Thinkspace to the next level with more ambitious paintings.
I’m inspired by the phenomena of radiant lighting effects that are observed in the natural world around me. I recently had the chance to see glow worms in the Australian forest and they have been incorporated into my paintings. Another example would be the afterglow of warm sunlight spilling outwards after sunset (as the title suggests) and the misty morning sunrises back home in the local blue gum forest. All of these experiences have shaped the visual themes and color palette in this new exhibition.
I hope my work will inspire some folks out there to go for a walk in the forest, experience the beauty of the natural world, as well as getting away from social media of course!
SH: Is there a particular piece in this exhibition you feel really challenged you? If so, why and what makes you proud of this piece?
RL: The painting with the deer was inspired by this beautiful pond along a hiking trail which is located within walking distance from my old home in Sydney, Australia. I always enjoy the view there and for the past few years, I’ve had this vision for a painting of a model on that rock during the early morning hours with the pond behind her and mist that is burned away by the morning sun. I finally hired a model and we hiked the trail so we’d arrive around 7.30 am, the best time for natural light and I shot the reference photos that day. The challenge was to take that reference, find the best photo that worked with my idea and blends it with my imagination to achieve that initial vision. I didn’t want to just copy a photo but transform it into a new mythological realm with its own inhabitants.
Once I had the photo, I had to add the mist, owls, and deer and make them part of this new world I was creating. One of the biggest challenges was getting those reflections to work with the forest and the deer, as well as trying to make the fur look like it was glistening and soaked from being in the pond. I also wanted to create a sense of movement and life by adding flying owls in the background and showing the ripples in the water being pushed by the deer walking forward in the pond.
It took about 2 months to finish. I’m proud of this piece because I found a place that had a lot of memories and personal meaning from my Australian home and blended it with these imaginal elements to create a new mythological realm that I could share with others.
SH: What excites you about your work / creative process?
RL: I like taking the time to paint all the luscious details of natural environments, such as the individual shapes of leaves, trees, and rocks and contrasting that with the otherworldly glow of supernatural creatures.
I want to create environments that feel “hyperreal”, like you could almost step foot into the painting like a lucid dream.
I also love painting the various personalities of owls, birds, and animals!
SH: What frustrates you about your work / the creative process?
RL: The long hours it takes to make all these vivid details come to life. As William Blake said, “singular and particular detail is the foundation of the sublime” and I believe that because the natural world can create an abundance of beautiful, intricate shapes to a level that the human imagination can’t recreate by itself. The amount of careful observation it takes to be faithful to what the eye sees is a slow and painful process, but it’s worth it.
SH: What do you think the role of artists is in society? How does other artwork inform how you move through life?
RL: I learn the most from those who spend the time to master their craft and develop a unique aesthetic. I’m inspired by the incredible talent out there today and always feel like I’m a complete noob when scrolling through my Instagram feed. It makes me realize how little I know about painting and how much there is to learn.
SH: Favorite way to celebrate the completion of a project/body of work?
RL: Spending time with my wife to make up for the long hours lost at the easel, going to the beach and finding some good hiking trails. It’s also going to be great to attend the opening night and having the chance to meet the people who made the effort to show up and see the work in person, which means a lot to me
Join us for the opening of Rodrigo Luff’s After Glow, Saturday, June 29th from 6 to 9 pm.
June 29 – July 20, 2019
(Los Angeles, CA) – Thinkspace is pleased to present new paintings and works on paper by Rodrigo Luff in Afterglow, the artist’s fourth solo exhibition with the gallery to date. Luff’s personally inflected figurative works blend realism and fantasy, recombining the edges of the probable with the incandescence of daydream. Expressing the imagined and impossible through the contours of a physically plausible world, Luff stages ambiguous borders between the spiritual and material, allowing the internal and emotive external expression through nature. This tension between the manifest and invisible haunts Luff’s intensely contrasting and vibrantly hued imagery, while a state of perpetual atmospheric dusk hosts these ghostly apparitions, both human and animal, hemmed by the fiction of otherworldly light. With edges cast in acidic, dayglow gleam, Luff levitates their edges in buoyant, fluorescent halos.
Luff’s fluorescent fairytales feature dryadic women surrounded by woodland creatures, mystic owls, and sentient birds; their powerful animateness and knowing conveyed through the chiaroscuro intensity of the work – as though the imagery itself is emanating from some ultimate interior. The light feels immaterial and increasingly hallucinatory as the works seem to burst forth from beneath. Through dynamic compositions that seem within moments of action and revelation, the artist keeps the viewer suspended in this trance of potential. With dreamy scenarios and suggestive harmonizations – the artist has often likened his process to musical composition in its balance of individual parts unified cohesively in the impression of the whole – this Narnian world powerfully channels metaphor and the stirrings of spiritual transcendence.
Luff is inspired by diverse influences, which he has synthesized into his unique aesthetic. Everything from the anime master Miyazaki and the romance of the Pre Raphaelites and their oil glazing techniques, to the otherworldly cast and contrast of the aurora borealis and the ornate art nouveau stylization of Alphonse Mucha, are cited among Luff’s sources. He has taken these inspirations and combined them into a romantically modern universe with moments of dissonance, sorrow, melancholy, and transportive nostalgia.
Coming to Thinkspace Gallery’s project room February 27th is new work from artist Rodrigo Luff in his latest exhibition, Nemeta. Luff works with color pencil, pastel, graphite, oil, and acrylic, and has honed his illustrative skills alongside his facility with painting media. His works are both linear and painterly, realistic and expressionistic. He explores a feeling of the otherworldly by capturing his subjects in trance-like dream states, suspended mysteriously in fairytale atmospheres. His nudes are often surrounded by kindly owls or other iridescent woodland creatures, and staged in forests or haunted woods.
Sour Harvest’s interview with Rodrigo Luff covers the inspiration behind “Nemeta”, a day in the studio, and who he’d invite to a dinner party among other fun questions.
Could you tell us about the inspiration behind the upcoming exhibition? How long have you be preparing for the show?
I’m interested in the way we have always sought a connection to the natural world, and how that liminal, mysterious and wild realm reflects those uncharted dimensions within our psyche.
I’ve been working on this show on and off since mid 2014, so it’s been a long journey.
Who are your artistic influences and a few artists you think people should know about?
My biggest influences are Alphonse Mucha, John W. Waterhouse, John S. Sargent, Moebius, Luis Falero, Hayao Miyazaki and Herbert Draper.
I recommend folks check out Luis Falero and Herbert Draper for a beautiful blend of realism and mythological fantasy. I also *highly* recommend “Cannabis Works” by Tatsuyuki Tanaka.
You really experiment with pigment mediums and layering to create a desired effect in your work, can you elaborate on a time an experiment failed and another when it was successful?
Yeah this one time I was layering acrylic washes and pencil rendering and it just got too heavy and dark, and the more I tried to lighten it, the more the paper got ruined and completely messed up.
A few years ago, I experimented with blending water, GAC 100 medium, acrylic, iridescent media and crushed oil pastel. I slowly and carefully built up the colour layers and I was surprised at how well it all came together, despite never having tried such a combination or knowing what the hell I was doing!
How did you develop your own artistic voice and visual style, when did it click?
I developed my visual style through blending all the different styles of art I like together, along with my own experiences and ideas. It really clicked one night when I was listening intently to music and realising that all these different sounds and instruments can be harmonised through a song structure. I tried to implement the same concept in my art through the drawing “Owl Song” in ‘12 by working hard to harmonise all my influences, colours, mediums, imagery and style together into one cohesive picture.
Most artists showed or have expressed creativity throughout their life, but committing to the path of a professional artist is a different story; when did you decide you wanted to be an artist and what does being an artist mean to you?
After I finished High School in ‘05, I graduated in the top 0.6% of the state with near perfect final marks. However, I had also won a full-time scholarship to go to the Julian Ashton Art School in Sydney earlier that year. I knew I couldn’t do both, so I decided to really commit myself to the artist’s path, despite the pressure to go the academic route through University. To me personally, being an artist means making this commitment every day, to seek learning and improvement and to justify that choice I made after High School.
What does a day in the studio look like?
I get up at around 6-7 am, and get the train to the studio. I’ll check emails and respond on the train so I can paint as soon as I arrive at around 8 am. Strong coffee fires up my neural synapses and I try to get my most concentrated work done in the morning, despite usually posting social media updates and seeing what’s happening in the world.
I usually take a short break for lunch, and then paint as much as possible until around 9 pm. On the way home, I read a book on the train, and think about how many mistakes I made painting, feeling determined to do better the next day. I usually get home around 10-11 pm and finish any emails.
Your work is steeped in a fantasy ethereal world and could easily be the backdrop to a video game; if you were to create your own video game based on your art what would be the backstory of the protagonist and what’s their mission?
It would be a mix of Miyazaki, Avatar, Greek Mythology and dark European Fairytales. An explorer gets lost in the forest, follows mysterious green lights into a liminal realm full of neon owls that possess some kind of alien intelligence, guided by a beautiful oracle. On the other side of the portal, in the underworld, the explorer communes with the soul of the forest, an ancient tree that has been poisoned by those mining resources of the woods for profit. The explorer must undergo several trials and tribulations to find a way to save the dying forest without succumbing to the same dubious morals as those who poisoned the sacred realm.
Best advice you’ve ever received as an artist? What advice would you give someone who looked up to you?
To work hard, long hours and always try to learn and do better with each artwork. I’d pass that on to anyone who asked, it’s simple but true.
Your last show with us was 3 years ago, what changes have you and your work experienced?
I’ve tried to keep the same surreal blend of realism and fantasy with owls, but enrich the vision with more detailed backgrounds, more ambitious compositional choices and fresh colour schemes.
If you were to throw a dinner party and invite anyone dead or alive; who would be on the guest list, what’s on the menu, and what would be the icebreaker question?
David Bowie, Hunter S. Thompson, Caravaggio, George R. R. Martin, Jimi Hendrix, Salvador Dali and Terence McKenna. I’d say a big southern BBQ style menu would be amazing, with lots of booze. Who needs an icebreaker with Hunter to get the party started?!!
The opening reception for “Nemeta” is Saturday, February 27th from 6 -9 pm and the show is on view till March 19th. For additional information on the exhibit please visit Thinkspace Gallery’s website; if you’d like to receive a preview of the show make sure to sign up for the Thinkspace Gallery mailing list.
Thinkspace is pleased to present Nemeta, featuring new works by Rodrigo Luff in the project room. Originally born in San Salvador, El Salvador and now based in Sydney, Australia, Luff creates ethereal figurative works of women and nudes in beautiful dreamlike settings. Inspired by Art Nouveau and turn of the century illustration, his works are ornate and lush, replete with elaborate references to the natural world.
Working in color pencil, pastel, graphite, oil, and acrylic, Luff has honed his illustrative skills alongside his facility with painting media. His works are both linear and painterly, realistic and expressionistic. He explores a feeling of the otherworldly by capturing his subjects in trance-like dream states, suspended mysteriously in fairytale atmospheres. His nudes are often surrounded by kindly owls or other iridescent woodland creatures, and staged in forests or haunted woods.
Luff’s palette is vibrant and his sense of light luminous. At times, his greens and yellows border on neon to exaggerate and deepen visual intensities. The contrasts in Luff’s work are dramatic and theatrical, and recall some aesthetic conventions of the Romantic period. Using chiaroscuro effects, and traditional figurative techniques, Luff creates a world that is simultaneously technical and surreal.
Opening Reception with the Artist(s):
Saturday, February 27, 2016
6:00 – 9:00pm