What an awesome opening night this past Saturday at Thinkspace Projects. We love to see so many art lovers and collectors supporting and enjoying such a wonderful group of artists as they show off their work. It was an absolute blast, thank you for coming out to support and celebrate with us.
Big shout out to all of this month’s exhibiting creatives as well, we do this all for you and we are blessed to be able to do so. Thank you.
Don’t miss these great new collections on display through July 29th. Visit us Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 6pm. Please note the Dog House Gallery and our courtyard are only open for viewing on Saturdays. Free and open to all.
Exhibition on view July 8 – July 29, 2023 at:
Thinkspace Projects 4207 W. Jefferson Blvd. + 4217 W. Jefferson Blvd. Los Angeles, California 90016
Thinkspace is pleased to present Sarah Joncas ‘Upon Another Shore.’ In this show, the figurative becomes a vehicle for more existential and constructivist emphases, an armature around which to posit narrative suggestions and symbolic inferences. Highly refined areas of figurative rendering, like the lush skin tones she achieves with oils, are combined with elements of a more graphic sensibility, executed in acrylics, to establish compelling visual tensions between realistic dimensional space and flattened stylization, which nods to her roots in illustration and animation. An early interest in animé and manga, as well as in those neo-noir cinematic references aforementioned, helped to galvanize Joncas’ interest in character-based works.
Our interview with Sarah reveals which color she finds difficult to work with, the challenges of being a mom, how she gets creative with her image references, and that one food dish she’s been craving.
What was your focus and process for this latest body of work? What were you exploring as an artist?
I’ve been exploring this balance between realistic figures and graphic aesthetics for many years now, but after the mini solo I had with you guys last fall, I felt the need to play more with abstraction and other visual energies. Through my preliminary work building up compositions in photoshop, I began to enjoy my ‘sloppy’ cut and paste styling, the rough edges, and mistakes I’d make while using a computer mouse to draw in colour etc. It spurred me to start selectively including those within the finished pieces. I think both emotionally and visually it’s made for an interesting direction, though I’m uncertain at this time whether I’ll continue with it. Even though my paintings are very controlled, I tend to move through themes and ideas intuitively rather than spending a lot of time planning where I’ll move next.
What was the most challenging piece in this exhibition?
I had some difficulties with ‘What Comes Back’, not just in creating a figure that looked natural, but deciding how I wanted to complete the work, moving back and forth with finishing touches and ways to balance the composition. I also find reds to be a very difficult colour to paint with (and photograph)! One of my favourites, but the paint itself tends to be less ‘solid’ than others, and more finicky. I end up painting more layers with it to get where I want.
How has your studio practice changed or evolved since becoming a mother? As an artist, how do you prepare for maternity leave?
When your kids are so young (toddler currently and a baby on the way), you do have to sacrifice far more of your time and energy, some of it unexpectedly when your child is sick, or you don’t have other care options. I’ve had to find ways to balance my work and take time away from it to be where I’m needed. Living in Canada, our mat leave is much longer too, and I was pretty much a year out of work looking after my first (especially during covid when there was no aid). Because I’m self employed, I didn’t have a funded mat leave, but instead tried to bank paintings and work that I could sell while away, also did what I could in order to have a larger show just before my expectant due date. Thankfully, things worked out for me that way, it’s not the kind of thing you have full control over! Despite your plans, pregnancy and babies do their own thing, hah.
How many different pencils/graphite tools do you use for your drawings? Do you have any new favorite materials you’ve added to your art box?
I only have a case of about 12 pencils I use for my drawings (have had it nearly a decade now), along with a mechanical pencil I love for finer linework. Then I have a few erasers, kneaded and gum, and black gesso for the backgrounds. I use a couple smaller, fineliner pens for any detail work as well. I recently picked up a handful of artist pencil crayons to play around with now that this larger show of work is completed. See how I might like incorporating washy acrylic backgrounds, with colour penciled drawings and paint. Play around more with mixed media on paper.
Are you a collector of faces for references and inspiration? Do you work with models to get the right reference shot?
Most of my references are images that I build up through collage, cut and paste, in photoshop. Stock imagery, models, celebrities and myself or friends, where needed. Sometimes a face can be the eyes from one person and the lips of another, while I’ll take photos of my own hands or clothing (face even) when I want something specific. The lighting in those refs can be also become quite jarring, not all looking to be from the same source, so I’ll incorporate my own interpretation and invention to attempt making it look natural.
You’ve shared that you’ve wanted to incorporate more of your travels into your works. Have any of the pieces in this exhibition been inspired by or used references from your travels?
Before covid I had begun to do so! Had used some photos I took in Iceland and Japan to help with a handful of works I created, but since covid I haven’t traveled at all. I guess the pregnancies and babies have put a hamper on those things as well for now. In the future, I hope traveling can be something I get to pick up once again!
Can you share with us a piece of artwork or museum exhibition that has significantly impacted you as an artist? Or has left the longest impression?
It’s very hard to choose one image or show that’s impacted me quite so much, but looking back I honestly think seeing my first issue of Juxtapoz as a teen had the most significant change with where I wanted to go in my career. The issue featured Lori Earley’s ‘The Hunter’ on the cover. I had only just started getting into oils and exploring female portraiture myself, and her work just put me in awe. I felt so driven to accomplish that smoothness of skin. Her paintings possessed that deep skill and lushness of an old master, but was modern and edgy and almost digital looking… My own work has changed a lot since that time, but I think seeing her paintings (along with many, many other artists work) in the pages of Juxtapoz influenced me towards a path in fine art rather than my original goal of being an animator.
What piece of unsuspecting advice or words of wisdom has helped you on your artistic journey?
I haven’t had a ton of mentorship in my years growing as an artist, but I think following your heart within your work and learning not to let every piece of criticism stop you from pursuing that has been fruitful to me. As a kid and teen, I could be very influenced by others opinions, trying to be obedient/responsive to where others thought I could or should change, but it’s very important not to lose yourself and what makes you happy, especially with something as personal as art! I’ve learned that’s the place where you’re most likely to excel anyhow, by listening to what drives you.
What is one of your most memorable meals? It could be because of the food you ate or the company you dined with, but it is a meal that has stood the test of time.
I can’t pinpoint one meal that stands out being better than any other, but lately I have been dreaming about this pasta dish I ate in Florence about 4 years ago… And you know, I’m not that crazy about Italian food (I enjoy it, but it’s far from my favourite). Find a lot of Italian food I eat locally is kind of mediocre/mundane, but this plate I got while traveling Florence was just amazing… Far better than any other meal I ordered while traveling Italy, as well. And it was just some tiny, local spot, no bells or whistles. I don’t even remember the name of the restaurant now, but I regret not having had another day in Florence to dine there a second time, haha.
Exhibition on view July 8 – July 29, 2023 at: Thinkspace Projects 4207 W. Jefferson Blvd. Los Angeles, California 90016
Reen Barrera returns to Thinkspace Projects with his latest solo show, marking his biggest undertaking to date, both with the gallery and in his career thus far. With an array of new works on canvas alongside a new collection of his signature hand made sculptures, Barrera has created a show that is light and playful, while brimming with profound meaning and deep emotion.
With Emotional Meat, Barrera explores the contemporary generation’s frantic demand for struggles and hustles. As many are fixated on succeeding, motivated by individualistic rationalities, often a disregard for the important aspect of one’s existence comes to light.
Imploring audiences to find their true pack, embrace family–whether chosen or genetic–Barrera reminds us to take a break from the grind and pay attention to what is truly important.
“The memories, events, and essences that surround our lives that are often ignored are the ones that usually should be given importance. To hold dear with all our might.”
In line with his previous work, Barrera has taken the idiom “it’s written all over your face” to heart and beyond, crafting his work around a central character he created early on in his career as an artist. Ohlala embodies Barrera’s thoughts, displaying them through a variety of colors painted on the being’s face. This serves as a mechanism to silently communicate, focusing on the unspoken rather than what is loud and clear.
About Reen Barrera Inspired by his “toy deprived” childhood, Filipino artist Reen Barrera repurposes found materials into mixed media figurative sculptures and paintings. The facial expressions and symbols and patterns in the artist’s Ohlala characters are drawn from the idiom “it’s written all over your face” and represent the power individuals have in designing their own fate. Barrera’s work provides a provocative conversation on the challenges of socio-economic circumstances and classism.
Toronto-based Sarah Joncas returns to Thinkspace Project, having first exhibited with the gallery in 2009 when she was only 19 years old. Since then, her accomplished work has developed technically and conceptually, garnering international attention for its moody stylization and emotive impact. Now, she brings Upon Another Shore, her latest collection of works displaying primarily female subjects that function as alter egos or symbolic avatars for social, psychological, and personal themes.
In this show, the figurative becomes a vehicle for more existential and constructivist emphases, an armature around which to posit narrative suggestions and symbolic inferences. Always striving to create a moment of discomposure or tension in her works, Joncas aestheticizes with melancholy and melodrama, tapping into an emotionally charged visual spectrum.
Highly refined areas of figurative rendering, like the lush skin tones she achieves with oils, are combined with elements of a more graphic sensibility, executed in acrylics, to establish compelling visual tensions between realistic dimensional space and flattened stylization, which nods to her roots in illustration and animation. An early interest in animé and manga, as well as in those neo-noir cinematic references aforementioned, helped to galvanize Joncas’ interest in character-based works.
Often posited in heightened emotional contexts, her protagonists are framed by suspenseful allusions to an overarching story or caught in the midst of ambiguous or invisible unfolding scenes. This penchant for plot, mystery, and symbolism is captured in moments of dynamic stillness in which action is both suggested and seized. The surrounding elements in her works, whether animals, objects or patterns, take on concomitant meanings, further reinforcing the larger thematic intimations of her works.
About Sarah Joncas Sarah Joncas was born in 1986 and grew up in both Hamilton and Niagara Falls, Ontario. Her interest in the visual arts developed at an early age, starting with the dedicated drawings of dinosaurs and lizards. Eventually the study and enjoyment of working from existing images stirred up the need in Sarah to create images of her own; ones that could reflect the world, yet also appease the personal feelings/ideas that she maintained. With this, her direction changed gradually from the world of animation, towards a path in fine art. Sarah graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design’s BFA program. She currently resides and works out of Mississauga, Canada.
Thinkspace is excited to present new work by Benzilla, born Parinya Sirisinsuk. Alter Ego challenges boundaries, ignites contemplation, and humbly invites viewers to explore the intricate complexities of our world.
With his signature 3-eyed alien “LOOOK,” Benzilla guides viewers through an exploration of paradox. Within the depths of each of us exists both the fiercest enemy and the most loyal companion. In these works that span mediums, Benzilla urges viewers to engage in a conversation with their inner selves, listening intently for answers.
As he explains “Through introspection, we shall uncover the essence of who we strive to become and what we yearn to achieve in this extraordinary journey called life.”
Weaving together traditional painting, spray paint, and graphic art, Benzilla welcomes audiences to delve into the realm of curiosity and embark on an enlightening journey through the artistic.
About Benzilla Parinya Sirisinsuk, aka Benzilla, born in Bangkok, Thailand, is a graduate of Fine and Applied Art from Bangkok University, who has found profound inspiration in the realms of Pop Culture, Street art, Mythology, and Sci-Fiction Guided by the character “LOOOK,” 3 eyes alien that presents a concept of perspective of an outsider, Parinya combines the techniques of craft painting, spray painting, and graphic art to craft a mesmerizing narrative.
Spime brings her intuitive paintings of varying scale to Thinkspace Projects with Fish Out of Filtered Water. She embeds and juxtaposes personal imagery of the present, while critically engaging with the culturally and emotionally determined actions of the past.
In Fish Out of Filtered Water, Spime marks the inception of an idea with the inclusion of works on paper. For Spime, fragmented drawings are a reflection of progress in an accelerating society or attention economy. ‘You have to be as fast as possible and as omnipresent as possible,’ she explains. ‘The drawings become a form of subconscious diaries of the everyday psyche, while exercising a sense of letting go of the outcome of work, because to create new ideas means letting go of control.’
Spime’s paintings often read as an introspective reality of subconscious activities–reveries, dreams, and memories, exploring the complexity of identity, identity-formation and their forms of expression. Her work is characterized by figures in a whimsical shape, artificial hues, and flatness. While the main figure plays a central role in each work, the background remains as an unknown place that leads the viewer to mull over the meaning of the images. With the recurring motifs throughout Spike’s paintings – the border between day and night, fruits that evoke color prejudice, orbs implying glances – the artist speaks about our desire to belong and contemporary emotional states in a sequenced narrative.
In addition to this show, Thinkspace Projects presents Reen Barrera’s Emotional Meat, Sarah Joncas’s Upon Another Shore, Benzilla’s Alter Ego, and new works from Cody Jimenez and Michael Gates. These shows open July 8, 2023 with a reception from 6PM to 10PM. They will remain on view until July 29, 2023 at Thinkspace Projects.
About Spime Born in Montreal, Canada, and growing up in Hong Kong, Spime constantly seeks to bridge a gap between two cultures. Noticing the cultural differences as she tried to find a place for herself, Spime gained awareness of the surrounding diaspora, which led her to creating her own world where she could float across the boundaries of time and space.
In the past year, she has exhibited solo shows with Haus of Contemporary (Hong Kong) and LKIF (Seoul, South Korea). Group exhibitions include, GR Gallery (New York, NY), Maddox Gallery (London, UK) and Waluso Galler (London, UK).
Cody Jimenez explores a world where emotions are embodied in physical forms. The emotions are represented through vibrant colors and shapes that affect their environment and characters around them. By using physical representations of those emotions, he investigates the dualities of beauty and danger that mirror mysterious forces he experiences in his life.
About Cody Jimenez: Cody Jimenez is a Mexican-American artist whose work focuses on the natural world through a lens of Imaginative Realism. He received his BFA in painting from NMSU in 2014 and MFA in painting from LCAD in 2017. His work has been exhibited throughout the country, including Los Angeles, CA, Denver, CO, Baton Rouge, LA, and Santa Fe, NM.
Michael Gates ia multi-generational pottery maker based in Asheville, North Carolina.
“Traditional elements from the 1800s and forward in the Catawba Valley, North Carolina area have influenced my forms, glazes, clays, process, and decoration. Elements of the Reinhardt lineage of potters in my family, specifically, have made their way into my more contemporary work. However, with less importance on making functional ware as they did in this pre-industrialized era, I have the luxury to spend more time on decoration, concept, and the whimsical. I have an affinity for making the traditional family pieces in the traditional way, yet I also enjoy making something that’s new and different. Combining the two is what I enjoy the most about my work.” – Michael Gates