Hi-Fructose Preview of Kwon Kyung-yup’s “Melancholia”

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Hi-Fructose released an online preview of Kwon Kyung-yup’s upcoming exhibition Melancholia. The exhibition, which will be in Thinkspace Gallery’s main room, will be showing all new works by the Korean painter as she explores her memories and addresses the most desperate and desirable issues of humanity.

Read and view the full preview on Hi-Fructose’s website.

“Her works find an emotional balance between her artistic inspirations, citing the beauty in Klimt’s paintings which she pairs with tragedy, as found in the works of Caravaggio.” – Hi-Fructose

Interview with Matthew Grabelsky for “Underground”

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Thinkspace Gallery is proud to present Matthew Grabelsky’s first solo exhibition with us, Underground, in the galleries project room. In anticipation of the show we have an exclusive interview with Matthew Grabelsky sharing with us insight into the anthropomorphic nature of his work, the special place a subway holds in society, and his artistic influences.

Please tell us a lil’ bit about your background?
I come from an artistic family (Father – film and television producer; Mother – dancer), so I’ve been making art for as long as I can remember. I was fortunate that my parents always encouraged and supported me in it. In college, I studied both art and science, and I graduated with a BS in Astrophysics and a BA in Art & Art History. Although I chose to pursue an artistic career, I have found that my scientific background has influenced my work significantly. My paintings are highly technical, and I often employ a scientific, analytical approach (knowledge of light, perspective, physics, etc.) in creating my images, both in terms of conception and execution. After graduating from college, I moved to Florence, Italy, where I spent four years studying representational painting. Afterward, I lived in Paris for several years, where I continued to paint and studied from the vast troves of art in the Paris museums. I currently reside in Los Angeles.

Matthew Grabelsky Franklin Street

Why the representational use of animal heads in your work?
I’ve always loved animals and mythology, as a result of being exposed extensively to both as a child. My parents were always taking me to the zoo and spent tons of time reading all kinds of stories to me. As I grew older, I became enthralled with the ways in which mythologies from different cultures make use of animal and animal-human hybrid characters to symbolize the mysterious nature of the subconscious.

These creatures in my paintings serve to inject an element of surrealism into one of the most commonplace experiences of life and of New York (e.g., public transportation). The characters are symbolic of the kinds of thoughts that lie under the surface of people’s minds, and they reveal that the most extraordinary can exist in the most ordinary of everyday settings. This theme is communicated through the juxtaposition of these ostensibly irrational images with otherwise completely mundane scenes. My idea is that my creatures are not original but are ultimately part of a much larger cultural continuum. My paintings are not intended to be explicit fantasy; rather, they are representations of the subconscious on which viewers are invited to form their own interpretations.

Couples seem to play an important role in your work. Care to elaborate?
In an image of a pair of people, the body language and the relationship of a couple are momentarily frozen. I am fascinated by the story-telling possibilities that spring from this moment.

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Any significance to the fact your subjects are often times found reading?
I like to have my subjects reading (magazines, newspapers, books, smart phones) because that provides a vivid and detailed point of interest in the painting, from which I create an entrance into the narrative that is taking place between the couple. Sometimes I’ll choose more serious fare like The New Yorker or The New York Times, and sometimes I’ll choose something from contemporary pop culture, like Cosmopolitan or GQ; the choice depends on the subject matter. I love to juxtapose the medium of a very polished and refined oil painting with the momentary, disposable pop culture that is represented by the reading material. The result is a fascinating mixture of high-brow and low-brow.

The magazines, in particular, are kind of amazing from a very base psychological standpoint; even if you think they are ridiculous, the covers are vividly designed with color, images, and text that grab your attention. You can’t not look at them at the check-out counter at the supermarket. In a sense, they similarly utilize the heightened visual language that I use in creating paintings that attempt to grab viewers and bring them into the world of my paintings.

Why do only the men have animal heads in your paintings?
My paintings are very personal. Therefore, I enter them through the perspective of a man, and I imagine scenes through a man’s eyes. The male figure is my avatar, while I view the female figure externally. The female figures are representative of the different women in my life. People have asked if I am saying that all men are animals. That is not my intention. If you look into world mythologies, you will discover that it is almost always the male who has an animal head. Two examples that come to mind are the bull-headed minotaur in Greek mythology and Ganesh, with an elephant head, in Indian mythology. Thus, I believe that representing the male with an animal head furthers my goal of tying my paintings into the larger continuum of world mythology.

Matthew Grabelsky Houston Street. Underground

How do you choose your models?
My models are all friends and family members. I really enjoy working with people I know well, because that helps me to capture a sense of realism in my characters. Using actual couples provides a kind of dynamism, which comes from the manners in which the couples pose. Generally, I’ll give them some instructions on what I want them to be doing, but the real spark comes from how they react to each other and their particular body language.

How do you choose the animal that you’ll feature?
I have my models pose in my studio, and I shoot a bunch of reference photos. Then, I review the photos and pick the most interesting ones. Sometimes I’ll have had a particular idea in mind for the painting, along with which animal I want to use. Other times, a certain pose, expression, look, gesture, or item of clothing will suggest a specific animal. There are times during which I’ll try several different animals, and then one will just pop.

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Why have you chosen the subway as your setting?
The subway is the circulatory system of New York. It’s a place where everyone comes together. No matter who you are, you will be on the subway at some point during the day. It is iconic and instantly recognizable. I grew up in New York, and I spent countless hours riding the subway. Although I live in Los Angeles now, my imagination puts me back on those trains whenever I think of my past. I often visit New York, but I find that painting these scenes while I am away from there gives me a form of clarity and allows me to reflect on that inspiration and organize it into my subway scenes. Memory is essential to my process; as an artist, I take different elements from my memory and combine them in an image.

Any major influences you care to share?
I draw a great deal of influence from painters and filmmakers who mix surrealism with realism. A few painters that have an outsize influence in my work are Arnold Böcklin and John William Waterhouse – both 19th-century artists – particularly because of the naturalism (rather than an allegorical approach) with which they paint mythological subjects. As for filmmakers, my absolute favorites are Terry Gilliam (12 Monkeys), Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth), and David Lynch (Mulholland Drive).

Additionally, I am always looking at imagery wherever I go (ads, billboards, magazines, film, etc.), and I draw ideas from everything I see.

Matthew Grabelsky Lincoln Center Underground

Care to elaborate any more on your style and technique?
My technique is highly realistic and heavily influenced by my studies of 19th-century academic and naturalist painters. These methods appeal to me, because of their rigorous approaches to accurately capturing visual appearances. Using those paintings as a jumping-off point, I’ve developed a visual language that allows me to create personal contemporary compositions. While people often describe my work as hyperrealist, my goal is to portray light, form, and texture very realistically but not to the level of microscopic detail, such as the pores of the skin.

I chose this technique because I want to depict my surrealistic elements in a manner that is so realistic that you feel like you are actually sitting on the subway with these creatures; even though they are fantastical, the realism and candor with which they are painted makes you forget that fact. At the same time, I arrange the figures, backgrounds, and colors in specific ways, in order to provide the sense of a heightened moment. It is like a snapshot that just happens to capture the moment when everything lines up perfectly. My paintings are executed in oil and currently I paint on panels.

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Please join us this Saturday, April 30th from 6-9pm for the opening reception of Matthew Grabelsky’s, “Underground.” All additional information on the exhibition can be found on the Thinkspace Gallery website.

Interview with Kwon Kyung-yup for “Melancholia”


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.

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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.

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Can you explain what a day in the studio would looks 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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.

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COMING THIS MAY: Hardcover Catalogue of ‘VERSO’ from Joao Ruas

Juao Ruas Book

Coming this May, Thinkspace Editions and Eidolon Fine Art presents ‘VERSO’ from Joao Ruas. A new limited edition catalogue featuring all the works from Joao’s sold out February 2014 show at Thinkspace Gallery, ‘VERSO’. In addition to the finished works, the 64 full colored pages will include progress shots, close-ups, and a fold-out centerfold of Ruas’s ‘Cannae of You and Me‘.  The catalogue will also feature shots of the exhibition and the ephemeral mural that he created for it.

This spot-glossed hardcover catalogue will have a limited run of 750.  Make sure to be signed up for the Thinkspace Gallery newsletter as full details will be released soon. 2424

Thinkspace Curated Exhibition “Entry Point: Exploring The New Contemporary Movement” at Fullerton Museum

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‘Entry Point: Exploring The New Contemporary Movement’
May 6th through July 15th

Taking Place At:
Fullerton Museum Center
310 N. Pomona Avenue
Fullerton, CA 92832
Phone: 714.738.6545

Curated by Thinkspace Gallery

‘Entry Point’ is a collection of 40 internationally renowned artists that serves as an amazing introduction to the burgeoning New Contemporary Art Movement for art lovers in the Fullerton area. With roots firmly planted in illustration, pop culture imagery, comics, street art and graffiti, put quite simply the New Contemporary Art Movement is art for the people.

Featuring 16×20 inch works from:
Aaron Li-Hill
Adam Caldwell
Alex Garant
Amanda Marie
Ben Frost
Benjamin Garcia
Carl Cashman
Chie Yoshii
Craig ‘Skibs’ Barker
Derek Gores
Drew Leshko
Erik Siador
Frank Gonzales
Henrik Aa. Uldalen
Jaime Molina (aka Cuttyup)
Jeremy Hush
Jim Houser
Kari-Lise Alexander
Kelly Vivanco
KiSung Koh
Low Bros
Mary Iverson
Ricky Lee Gordon
Sarah Joncas
Tony Philippou
Yok & Sheryo

Upcoming at Thinkspace Gallery, Matthew Grabelsky’s Project Room Solo Exhibition “Underground”

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Matthew Grabelsky: Underground
April 30, 2016 – May 21, 2016

Concurrently on view in the Thinkspace project room is Underground, featuring new oil paintings by Los Angeles-based artist Matthew Grabelsky. His works combine a hyperrealistic painting technique with a surreal penchant for unlikely juxtapositions. Raised in New York City, Grabelsky uses its subway’s underground world as the setting for his unlikely pairings.

Grabelsky’s works depict couples on subways, often nonchalantly reading magazines or newspapers, but the male figures in these dyads are strange, quasi-mythological human hybrids with animal heads. Deer, bears, elephants, tigers, and everything in between, make a suited appearance in rush hour. By contrasting the platitudes of the day-to-day with the presence of the extraordinary and unlikely, Grabelsky stages the unexpected within the most unassuming of circumstances.

The appearance of the animal head feels distantly totemic, an archetype for something primordial, ancient, and psychologically motivated. Fascinated by the persistence of animal imagery in mythology and communal cultural imaginaries, Grabelsky superimposes its presence onto his depictions of the contemporary world. For the artist, the animal becomes a manifestation of the inner workings of the hidden subconscious, literally revealing the latent identities and motivations lurking beyond the composure of the human mask.

Technically inspired by 19th Century academic and naturalist painters, Grabelsky creates these unlikely, surreal scenes with a staggering degree of realistic detail. The contrast created between the visual verisimilitude of the works, and the surreal improbability of their content catches the viewer in a prolonged moment of convincingly suspended disbelief.

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Upcoming at Thinkspace Gallery Kwon Kyung-Yup’s Solo Exhibition “Melancholia”

Juxtapoz Kwon Kyung-Yup

Kwon Kyung-Yup: Melancholia
April 30, 2016 – May 21, 2016

Thinkspace Gallery is pleased to present Melancholia, the gallery’s first solo exhibition of paintings by Korean artist Kwon Kyung-Yup. A graduate of Sejong University in Korea, where she completed an M.F.A, Kwon is currently based out of Seoul. Known for her pale ghostly paintings of delicately rendered figures, the artist uses the human body in her imagery as a vehicle for healing, mourning, and memory. Meditative in their starkness and otherworldly in their filmy delicacy, her figurative depictions are cathartic and emotional, suggesting both trauma and recovery, forgetting and remembering.

Kwon’s figures seem suspended in time, arrested in a sort of ageless androgyny. They are beautiful, and yet unspecific, functioning more like symbolic emblems than individual subjects. When creating her work she describes a process of emotive recall in which she revisits emotional events from her past, actively summoning memories to inspire the work. The figure becomes a literal instrument of psycho-spiritual expression through which she explores universally relatable, though intensely personal, themes of femininity, sexuality, death, libidinal impulse, transformation, and ego. The human body becomes a poetic device through which Kwon explores existential drives and deficiencies.

The artist describes her paintings as meditative spaces in which she depicts longing, sadness, and fantasy. A deliberate slowness and calm are typical of their tone and pace. A single figure, minimally adorned, tends to occupy the focus of the foreground. Surrounded by a still expanse of emptiness, there are few other details, if any, to distract from the complete presence of the form. The viewer is left feeling captivated, drawn in by the concise simplicity of the image, submerged in its heavy quietude. The figures’ skins convey a nuanced depth and pallor, an impressive range of gradation and muted color that resonates through several thin, carefully applied, layers of oil paint. Kwon’s attention to the translucent rendering of these milky skins, and the contrast she creates with subtly bloodshot eyes and carefully stylized features transports the figurative realism in her work beyond the realm of naturalism. The figures are excessively human in their pristine vulnerability, and yet entirely other, emotionally charged, and surreal.

At times, the bodies depicted in Kwon’s works are wrapped in bandages, caught somewhere between life, trauma, death, and convalescence. This space of ambiguity in which the self is suspended somewhere between a beginning and an end is a recurrent theme in her work. Measured and introspective, Kwon’s process is thoughtful rather than reactive, and each piece takes up to two months to complete. She begins her paintings in a contemplative state, a literal meditation aided by conscious breath work, and carefully allows the surface to live, extracting wraiths from the void.

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