Thinkspace Projects is proud to present Mark Jeffrey Santos‘ (aka Mr. S) U.S. debut solo exhibition ‘Uncharted Paths’ in our main gallery. His new body of work is based on his personal experiences traveling, creating a body of work that evokes the certain feeling of excitement when you find yourself in a new place. Complete with a dreamlike environment and his wide-eyed characters, Santos is not only technically skilled, but also gifted with the vision to construct imaginary, bordering on surreal, scenes. His characters can often be found on an adventure, accompanied by larger-than-life creatures. Such talent in world-building and character design only comes natural for Santos, who did works in video and film before becoming a visual artist.
Our interview with Mr. S shares his creative influences, which skill he would easily download in his brain if he could, and what he hopes viewers take away/experience while viewing his work.
What does a day in the studio look like for you? How do you structure your days? Do you have any rituals that help you tap into a creative flow?
There’s isn’t any specific routine to my workflow. I like to be spontaneous when it comes to my schedule. I noticed that I come up with great ideas when I’m doing mundane tasks. Still, I make sure that I meet the deadlines.
What is your most favorite and least favorite part of the creative process? Who are some of your creative influences? Why do they inspire you?
Besides the painting itself, my favorite part is solving how to achieve a certain mood in my paintings. I have a lot of influences in terms of painting, but I think Andrew Hem really inspired me to learn how to paint landscapes and understand more about color temperature.
If you could have any skill or topic downloaded into your brain, what would you want to be able to do / be an expert at? What do you hope viewers take away or experience while viewing your work?
Learn a new language. I want to be able communicate better. When I paint, I usually like to look at my subjects to have a feeling of calmness in them. And I hope that’s what the viewers would feel when they look at my paintings.
How do you like to enjoy your time outside of the studio? Do you celebrate the completion of a body of work?
I actually do a lot of things. I try to stay away from painting but still try to be creative in other ways. it’s important to live life and be present in the moment because I’d like to think that my art is a representation of my life experiences.
If you could collaborate with any artists in any sort of medium (i.e. movies, music, painting) who would you collaborate with, and what would you be making?
I would definitely collaborate with an animator. Seeing my characters to life would be awesome. Think of the movie ‘Kubo.’
Who would be on the guest list if you could throw a dinner party for five people, dead or alive? What would be on the menu? What would be the icebreaker question?
No comment. 😅
What was in your musical rotation during the development of this body of work?
My playlist is super random. But usually I listen to korean and japanese musicians like Ovall, Kan Sano, Tsubaki, Sweet william, Nujabes, and yes I listen to Kpop as well.
Thinkspace is pleased to present Brian ‘Dovie’ Golden ‘Hard Candy‘ -a study in contradictions that underscores the struggle of preservation. With a hard exterior and a soft heart, Brian “Dovie” Golden relates to the sweet treat, calling attention to the internal strife caused by human duality. Often taught to “toughen up” and “be a man,” the show is a reflection of the artist’s personal experiences as a Black man navigating emotions, family, faith and life. His childhood love of drawing shines through in pop culture elements and vibrant colors. Nodding to both pop art and photorealism, Golden presents something fresh to the new contemporary art scene.
Our interview with Brian shares some of his must-have playlist tracks, how he orders his ramen, and his way of dealing with grief.
What themes were you exploring in this body of work? Did you have a particularly challenging piece?
Reflection – particularly through the eyes of my 11-year-old self – took center stage in this body of work. As I pored over old family polaroids in tattered photo albums – some leather-bound, others plastic or vinyl – I was transported. These beautiful artifacts of cherished stories represented more than just glimpses into years far gone; they were invitations to reconnect, root, and reflect. No particular piece in Hard Candy felt especially challenging, rather the entire body of work tested my vulnerability, strengthened my mental fortitude and sharpened my execution skills.
You shared that bourbon, a good cup of coffee, and a playlist all help to get you into a creative flow. What is your favorite bourbon and coffee brand? What is a must-have playlist track?
A good cup of coffee was a welcome companion throughout the making of this show, and I have a particular fondness for the locally roasted Intelligentsia and Dark Matter coffee brands here in Chicago. As someone who works in advertising, I often find myself creating in the wee hours of the night when everyone else is asleep. To prepare for this show, I pulled more all-nighters than I have in a very long time. While I don’t have a specific song, I curated a playlist of songs from my childhood that perfectly captured the nostalgic mood I was seeking to evoke in this body of work. Nas – it aint hard to tell, Anita Baker – same ole love, Nirvana – heart shaped box, to list a few.
Over the last three years, your work has moved away from including realism portraiture and has focused more on the f(r)iend and fiend characters. Can you share what informed the evolution in your style and if you think you’d return to portraiture elements?
I always strive to strike a balance between figuring out the primary and secondary characters within my pieces. Typically, the primary person is the one affected by the friend or fiend, with the friend or fiend serving as a secondary component. I sought to transform the concept of “f(r)iend and fiend characters” into something more personal, acknowledging that both sides of these characters are innate within us. Shifting away from realism portraiture has enabled me to concentrate on the mood and posture of the subject, thereby allowing for a more holistic story of their interaction with the environment.
How do you celebrate yourself? What experiences ignite joy in your life?
I am still on a journey of self-discovery and learning to celebrate myself. Rainstorms bring me immense joy and a sense of calm. I find them therapeutic and mesmerizing, often losing myself in the sight of each raindrop hitting the pavement. It’s remarkable how each drop, like a snowflake, completes its task of giving life to the vegetation below. The significance of rain is powerful, and it never fails to uplift my spirits. Furthermore, I am learning to prioritize spending time with the people who matter to me. Life is short, and it’s crucial for me to cherish and value the moments spent with my loved ones.
Grief is not a stranger to you, and unfortunately have had to learn to live with its immeasurable weight far sooner than some and more than others will ever experience. How would you describe grief? What advice was the hardest to receive but the most important for learning to navigate it?
I have learned that grief is not just one thing. It can be and serve as a powerful catalyst that motivates you to persevere; alternatively, it can dismantle the very foundation of your beliefs. In the aftermath of tragedy, grief draws out feelings of helplessness. The maxim, “God’s plans are not mine,” proved particularly difficult for me to accept. However, as I reflect upon this bittersweetness of this wisdom and actively choose to embrace life, I’m gradually piecing together the puzzle and gaining a clearer understanding.
Faith plays a significant role in your life, and prayer is a part of your creative process. Have you always been a person of faith?
Yes, but admittedly, I have my own share of shortcomings. However, my mother has been an unwavering source of strength and inspiration, a true warrior in my life. She prays for her family every single day, and I firmly believe that it’s those prayers that have repeatedly saved my life. My faith in God and His guiding hand over my life is something I cherish deeply, and even in moments of desperation and sorrow, I find solace in the knowledge that He is always there.
What’s your favorite kind of Ramen?
Tonkotsu, hands down! Usually with extra noodles and chili oil.
What do you hope viewers take away or experience while viewing your work?
Contemplating this question often causes me anxiety, as our thoughts and perceptions evolve over time. It’s difficult to predict how my work will be interpreted 10 or 20 years from now, and this uncertainty can keep me up at night. However, I believe that everyone views the world in their own unique way, and I welcome diverse interpretations of my work. My ultimate goal is to inspire people to reflect on important themes in their current lives, as this moment is temporary and fleeting.
Would you rather be locked inside a library or an art supply store for three days? Both vicinities have plenty of food, water, and a comfy air mattress with cozy blankets for the stay.
Wow so comfy! If I were locked inside an art store, I doubt I would sleep at all, given the endless possibilities and materials available to create whatever my heart desires. Nonetheless, as tempting as it sounds, I believe I would prefer the library. Three days immersed in a space of boundless knowledge and inspiration seems like the ideal setting to generate a plethora of fresh ideas.
Exhibition on view May 6 – May 27, 2023 at: Thinkspace Projects 4207 W. Jefferson Blvd. Los Angeles, California 90016
Thinkspace presents a video tour and opening recap from this past Saturday’s reception for our April exhibitions. Many thanks to Ezra, Caroline, Delisha and Willem for believing in our team and delivering such strong bodies of work. Big love to all that came through to support!!!
April 1 – April 22, 2023
Thinkspace Projects 4207 W. Jefferson Blvd + 4217 W. Jefferson Blvd. Los Angeles, California 90016
Thinkspace Gallery is proud to present Kwon Kyung-yup’s latest body of work with her solo exhibition “Melancholia.” In anticipation of the show we have an exclusive interview with Kwon Kyung-yup sharing with us her love for oil paint and connection to her work.
What do you like about oil paints as a medium?
I work with very slow breathing as though I meditate. As oil paintings dry slower than other paintings, I complete my work for one to two months, observing the progress of the work. I enjoy paintings made with great effort for a long period. I would love to be a master artisan before I am an artist. Oil paintings are appropriate to depict abundant colors of the skin. They are also excellent materials to adjust degrees of gloss and transparency.
What themes or ideas were you exploring in this new body of work?
I wanted to draw a character who reviews one’s life while dreaming of something behind the reality. My characters are immersed in deep contemplation or meditating. In the painting “Red Moon” and “Romance”, I wanted to draw the image of a human withdrawing into one’s inside, contemplating or longing for the ideal beyond the reality. The red color appearing here expresses the energy that pursues beauty while trying to fill in the deficiency and casting an immortal spell on the human body.
The title of the painting “I lock the door upon myself” was taken from that of the painting “I lock the door upon myself” of Fernand Khnopff, a Belgian symbolist painter of the 19th century. I wanted to express the melancholic emotion bounding towards the inside world, being disconnected from the outside world.
The painting “Primavera” ‘s theme is spring. Recently, I have been learning and enjoying the beauty of daily things while drawing a series on spring. The flowers and plants surround the character have the meaning of healing just like the bandage I have been drawing so far.
In the paintings “Strum”, “Surreal Memory” and “Cherish”, the girls are drawn as if they were discolored by the long flow of time; this is the metaphor of the memory’s nature of fading with time.
In the expression of loneliness and loss, I extracted and expressed only certain traces left by the memory while hiding personal narratives.
Instead, I made it possible to interpret the painting in various ways by filling the void space with the language of “silence” or substituting with specific colors or symbols; the scope of interpretation was extended by placing metaphoric elements inside the painting.
Can you explain what a day in the studio wouldlooks like?
I get the best paintings when I concentrate on painting in my studio the whole day. And I get the inspiration for the next work at that moment.
Do you use models as a reference or do you paint the people from your imagination?
I describe characters with a realistic grammar; however, I emphasize imaginative elements and fantasy above all. There are paintings in which my family and friends were models while many other ones were drawn from imagination without a model.
This time, I painted two pieces with boys as models, they are Chanyeol and Sehun, members of the K-pop star group EXO. Based on the experience of having drawn Girls Generation’s members while doing collabo work with SM Entertainment in Korea in 2012, I realized that the images of the singers fit well with those of my paintings and found a new possibility for my paintings.
What do you do when you’re not painting?
I like reading books. I get the desire to create something through literature works rather than works of art. I get inspiration from Russian literature such as Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy which expose human nature while also give the feeling of magnificence and nobleness. I enjoy reading Japanese novels intergrating realism and surrealism, the romanticism literature of the 19th century including Goethe and the illusionist literature of Borges.
What is your favorite food?
Sincerely prepared food
Is there a piece in this show you are more connected to than the others?
Bandaged works. I cannot exactly explain why but I had a special feeling when I painted the works. I cannot logically explain for that. I was 100% immersed in the work depicting my feeling at that moment very well.
In “Primavera”, I was able to enjoy the painting while using orange, green and yellow color during the course of drawing flowers and plants.
How have you grown as an artist over the last 5 years?
I feel how precious each day’s work is.
What do you think is the biggest blessing and challenge of being an artist?
I think that art means expressing the world with one’s unique perspective. An artist must reconstruct one’s view of understanding the world in a unique way. That is, a unique view of the world is needed and that view has to be always refreshed. In addition, aesthetic experience is also required as it is important to add aesthetic quality. Artistic experience does not just occur inside art but can occur in various areas.
Attend the opening reception of Kwon Kyung-Yup’s “Melancholia” exhibition this Saturday, April 30th from 6-9pm. Visit the Thinkspace Gallery website for additional information on the exhibition.
ARTIST NOTE //
Me seen by myself, me seen by another person. There is a room of mirrors, endlessly looking face-to-face. One is my mirror while the other is that of another person looking at me. Just as many images are formed when the two mirrors face each other, how can I explain the many images of myself? I can’t know who I am, which one of these is my real image.
I become different depending upon which state, situation and reality I am facing or which philosophy and attitude I have in my life. That is, I can see myself only indirectly through something else then myself. Just like most artists. a work reflects its artist in some way and thus can be interpreted as a mirror of the mind with the internal myself projected on it.
I see one side of myself through my paintings; however, the work’s meaning changes continuously according to my varying emotional states and their changes. Just as my image inside the mirror changes with the flow of emotions, The figure in my painting is a Melancholiker who is always silent and many secrets are hidden in that silence.
The feature of my job is the visual expression of a human’s feeling, emotion, and mood that is hard to express; the expression is based on the fundamental experience shared by all humans. As the work was expressed in a wide context, the detailed meanings of each work can change according to the emotional line of the human looking at the painting.
As my self-portrait hides a private narrative, it can show my mother or sister or become a mirror of the mind showing the painting’s viewer. Thus, a painting is the space for thinking. The viewer of a painting can discover one’s present or past view through my painting and also project one’s own inside on the painting then retrieve it again to read it subjectively.