Interview with Jacub Gagnon for ‘Short Stories’

Thinkspace is proud to present Jacub Gagnon’s latest body of work ‘Short Stories’ which will include a departure from Gagnon’s classic black and include a few pieces that have a stark white background. This will be Canadian artist Gagnon’s third solo exhibition with us showing his work that pushes playful juxtapozition by pairing familiar animals and everyday objects to create scenes that delight and induce wonder.  In anticipation of Gagnon’s upcoming exhibition with us, we have an exclusive interview with Jacub Gagnon to discuss parenthood, thoughts on the new contemporary art movement, creative process, and his desire to be a professional schmoozer. Short Stories opening reception is from 6 – 9 pm this coming Saturday, April Ist in our main room

SH: You’re a new parent! How have you been balancing parenting and painting?
JG: I’m not sure the word balance can be attributed to my effort in wrapping up work on this show and being a new parent, maybe a juggling of sort? It has been tough to say the least, the months leading up to a big show are my busiest. My wife has been amazing in stepping up and pulling her share of parenting weight and mine during this time. Neither of us have been sleeping much these past couple months, but I must say I’m looking forward to the show so that I may take spend family time with them afterward and give my wife a chance to catch up on her sleep.

SH: What themes or ideas were you exploring in this latest body?
JG: I like to tackle a wide range of themes in my work, some may seem trivial while others poignant or deeply personal. You will find unlikely tales of comradery, loss of loved ones, innocence, hard truths, and as always my imagination running amok! There is an overarching theme of the human presence though never a human present. Each painting is a a glimpse of a much greater narrative that I welcome the viewer to build upon with their own imagination.

SH: Walk us through a day in the studio?
JG: Lately I’ve been getting my best work done in the early hours of the morning, around midnight to 7AM is kind of the sweet spot, the house is quieter and there are less distractions on the whole. Coffee proceeds most things in the morning, it’s my main mission once out of bed and it’s always in hand upon entering my studio in the morning. I like to sip away while catching up on current events in both the world news and the art world. When time was a little more free I’d take this opportunity to check messages and reply to emails but this aspect of my work always slips a little while working intently to finish a show. With blinds open and blaring daylight LED bulbs on, I set up my painting area and throw on any music or current show that I’m watching. I paint all day/night and lately just stop for food breaks, to take the dog out, or to spend a few moments with my wife and son. I can easily spend 15-18 hour stretches in the studio though and that has been much of my daily routine for the past 3+ months.

SH: What excites you about another artist’s work?
JG: I have a lot of anticipation for upcoming shows of artists that I admire and follow, that always excites me. As of late I haven’t made it out to many shows, so a lot of my excitement comes from social media. I’ll see something that surprises me or catches my eye and there’s often this feeling of inspiration that immediately makes me want to start painting or working on a new idea, it’s a great feeling.

SH: How does is it feel to be an active artist who is a part of the new contemporary art movement? How do you think it will be documented in art history? Give us your one liner.
JG: Unfortunately, I don’t believe this movement in art history will be very romanticized, ingenuity and innovation aside, I think it will be remembered as a reflection of an ever-changing/growing technologically and politically distraught time where vanity is at odds with morality and we’re all drinking the kool-aid from Duchamp’s Fountain. I’m not a cynic by nature, just shy on sleep, I swear.

SH: You’ve stated your creative process tends to change and evolve. What is your current process?
JG: For this show, I made a list of animals I wanted to paint and a list of themes/stories I wanted to tell. Everything didn’t fall into place at once, I still had to work for the narrative and the image to emerge, but it helped me flesh out a number of new pieces and make sense of things. I’ll definitely try this again in the future.

SH: Do you experience creative blocks? If so how do you push through it and find new inspiration?
JG: Creative blocks happen, I try not to let them hold me back for long. I find a good way to jump-start things is to flip through my old sketchbooks – start where things first began. Old ideas, failed or not, breathe new life. Half fleshed out thoughts that didn’t amount to anything at the time help to make new connections and inspire new creations.


SH: If you work was translated into a cocktail what would it taste like? What would it be made of?
JG: My guess is It would taste like a magical mystery tour of the senses. It would consist of lots of bourbon, a hint of coffee bean, essence of baby bunny and tiny giraffe. And of course this cocktail would be served in a teacup balanced on top of a coyote and lit aflame by a hummingbird. Oh, and the rim of the teacup would be coated in powdered Cocoa Puffs!

SH: What were you listening to while creating this latest body of work, music, podcasts, Netflix?
JG: I jump around from music to audio books to movies/TV shows. I must say, Netflix has been very helpful to play in the background lately, it’s convenient and I love that it will just keep playing on it’s own. I find that when I need to focus I can’t watch something new on Netflix, having already seen a show allows me to still enjoy it but not pay full attention. Most recently I burned through all of the ‘X-Files’ which was a nice flashback.

SH: You’ve shared you never intended on being an artist, but applied to OCAD, was accepted, and the rest is history. For your college days, what was the most valuable information you received? What did you have to learn on your own?
JG: I’m not sure I can say the single most valuable information I received, but I had a professor that really took me to task during the critique of my work urging me to not follow in other’s footsteps, but to find my own style. At the time my work resembled Dali-esque landscapes, not original in themselves but it was the beginning of my journey into surrealism and I worked hard on them. I took her advice and found my own style, it helped bring me to where I am today artistically. As for what I learned on my own, there was not a lot of technique taught, I learned much of my style by putting in long hours and through trial and error.

SH: If you weren’t painting, what would yoube doing instead?
JG: I would like to be a professional schmoozer. I would shmooze with high profile clients with a no-holds-barred attitude, doing anything necessary to ‘make the deal’, making both client and employer happy. My wife insists that’s not the job title, but ‘I’ insist that my business card if ever I venture into the subtle and artful world of schmoozery would read in large, bold print, “Professional Shmoozer”.

Interview with Amy Sol for upcoming exhibition “Garden Gamine”

Amy Sol Interview Banner

Thinkspace Gallery is proud to present Amy Sol’s latest body of work with her solo exhibition “Garden Gamine.” In anticipation of the show we have an exclusive interview with Amy Sol sharing with us her inspiration, love of nature, and creative process.

Do your characters possess a complete narrative or are they suspended in the moment we see?
There is rarely a narrative in place when I start a new painting. It’s more fun to build a story or setting around the first spark of idea. But I’d say it’s closer to being a suspended moment. Often, I like to capture something mid-moment, where you can imagine a before and after. I really try more to hone in on a feeling, but loosely enough to be interpreted.

Walk us through what a day in the studio looks like?
When I’m prepping a body of work I tend to, for better or worse, compartmentalize my life to an extreme. I have to do this in order to have the energy and time to create. My life bar is not very strong, so I have to use it wisely. That involves having to isolate myself a bit… so less internet, e-mails and interaction in general. If I’m lucky, it is just me in a room, with plants, my dog, coffee, lots of decent listening material, and a block of time to paint and do nothing else.

Amy Sol Garden Gamine

What was playing in the background while you were working on this exhibition?
Everything. I consume tons of music, audiobooks etc. I’ve been more into podcasts lately. Especially if it’s focused on science, nature, or personal story telling. I just found an art podcast called Artist Decoded— the episode with Phil Hale is so good, I listened to it twice. I’ve had to paint thru headaches at times and oddly found asmr tapping videos to help. They got kind of addicting, so now if I’m feeling wound up I’ll actually listen to that stuff with headphones for hours sometimes.

What do you feel is the biggest misconception about being an artist?
mmm, I guess that it’s easy and all fun and no sacrifices need to be made if you choose to do it for a living. but no one actually thinks that… right? ;-P

It takes time to for an artist to develop their voice and style, then once they have defined who they are as an artist they must continue to push and grow without losing their voice. Having been in the post-contemporary world for nearly 10 years now, how do you push yourself to grow and experiment while still maintaining your unique style?
Experimenting with mediums is the phase I am in right now, I just started using oil a year ago. It is a huge challenge for me, and I feel it’s good because there are so many possibilities to be explored. My biggest rule is to trust my instinct, if I get a new idea, I try it out. I can’t put much energy into thinking where it will all lead to and how it might change me. I just try it, and if it doesn’t work I can paint over it. If I am excited to paint and getting something out of it, I feel I’m on the right path. Being in that mindset isn’t always as easy as it sounds but it’s what I aim for.

Amy Sol Garden Gamine 2

What’s your spirit animal?
A miniature panda! It reminds me to eat veggies and not take myself too seriously.

You use a lot of organic elements and imagery in your work, do you have a favorite garden or park you like to retreat to?
If I am ever visiting a city, I always check out the gardens or nature spaces. I love looking at plants. Even if there is one tree outside my window, it’s good enough. Looking at plants is really important to my well-being. I don’t know the mechanism behind this, but it works. A simple shape of a leaf or lines of a branch can communicate so much within a painting, it’s a big part of my visual language.

Amy Sol Garden Gamine 3

You’ve stated the Ghibli studio is a major inspiration, have you seen the documentary “The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness”?
Yes, I really love that documentary! It’s beautiful. Animation was a huge early influence towards the look and feel of my work now. Classic disney films played a big role in that too. As a kid I would pause the VHS tapes of Sleeping Beauty and Bambi and try to draw the forest backgrounds.

If you could live in a Miyazaki film for a day, which one would it be?
That’s a tuff one to choose, but I’d have to say Castle in the Sky and it would have to be on Laputa of course.

Amy Sol 4

The opening reception for Amy Sol’s “Garden Garmine” is this Saturday, April 2nd. For more information on the exhibition please visit the Thinkspace Gallery website.

Christine Wu’s exhibition “Sleepless” coming to Thinkspace Gallery’s Main Room

Christine Wu Sleepless

Thinkspace is pleased to present Sleepless, the gallery’s first major solo exhibition of new works by New York City-based painter Christine Wu. A figurative oil painter who explores the expressive and emotive possibilities of the body, Wu delves into the vulnerability of self and the haunted nature of human consciousness. Her evocative and sensual depictions explore themes such as nostalgia and metaphysical becoming, expressing ephemeral states through physical manifestations of subjectivity. Wu incorporates abstract gestures into her works, often dissolving edges and contours to conflate environments and disrupt the representation of bodies, splintering and splitting the cohesion of an illusory whole in favor of a more experientially realistic incoherence. These moments of abstraction, however, are always in service of form and figure. Wu is fascinated by the cyclical momentum of growth and decay, and by the literal and metaphoric complicity of life and death. Her paintings capture this ambivalence, revealing the ghostly remnants of a divided subject through symbolic figurative instability, redoubling and flux.

Wu is interested in memory as a subjective construct; a mutable and fractured consciousness that is defined by sensorial experience and recall. Stylistically, she expresses this intangible feeling of disjointedness through multiple vantage points, or moments, captured in a single temporal frame, not unlike double-exposure photography. This unhinging of linear time captures the conflict of divisive psychological states. As the title of the exhibition suggests, Sleepless invokes the disturbances of night, both real and imagined, and the suspended unrest or “world-weariness,” in the artist’s own words, that arrests the subject’s release into sleep. As with previous works, Wu’s new paintings are sensual corporeal excavations of a vulnerable and imperfect self, grappling with the interminable process of self-realization.

Known for her subtle tonal palettes, and exquisitely precise line work, Wu’s new works are darker and more muted than her previous. This aesthetic shift is Intended to capture a feeling of isolation and emotional strain, in keeping with the exhibition’s theme of nocturnal restlessness. Her subjects are women created from a woman’s perspective; conflicted, complex, sensual, wounded and ambivalent, rather than reductively fetishized. Wu is in search of raw emotional experience rather than caricature, expressed through the vicissitudes of the physical body. Formally, the new works explore texture and tactility in new ways, inciting a physical reaction and desire to touch, a desire offset by its implicit prohibition.

In Sleepless, Wu continues to stage these tensions between the intimate and private, the public and exposed. There is a quiet and understated, though undeniable, intensity to the glimpses of interior life the artist selectively reveals. Through her unique take on figurative expressionism, Wu’s visceral paintings remind us of the fragility, and resilience, of the human psyche, and of the unavoidable erosion and deterioration of all external and impermanent things. Wu’s splintered bodies in breach seem to suggest that the individual’s personal growth is inextricably bound to a series of imposed and elective deaths; a constant process of undoing and becoming, remembering and forgetting.

Christine WuSleepless
January 23 – February 20, 2016
Opening Saturday, January 23, 6-9pm

Christine Wu Sleepless Work In Progress Detail Shot

Detail shot of a work in progress from “Sleepless”