“I sometimes speak English in a very French way,” warns artist Turf One with a good-natured laugh before discussing the work that makes up his latest show, “Shining Darkness,” which is on exhibit at the Thinkspace gallery in Los Angeles through the end of November.
But much like his bold, uncompromising paintings, the former graffiti artist’s thoughts are direct and right to the point. Utilizing a wide range of found objects to serve as his canvas, Turf One’s latest works reflect his process of letting the subconscious mind guide his art.
“The title ‘Shining Darkness’ actually came in the middle of working on it,” he explains from his current home base of Montreal, Canada. “I already had a few pieces done for the show which were very much playing on the notion of the juxtaposition and correlation of darkness and light. This is an underlying theme in my work in general, but I explored a more serious aspect of it for this show with pieces like “MEAT” or “FORTUNE TELLING MONKEY AUTOMATON.”
Animals play a large part in the exhibit, with monkeys, pigeons and a disembodied pig’s head just a few of the creatures represented in the paintings.
“I don’t really know where they come from. They each symbolize different things,” the artist muses about their presence here. “I think the monkey for example is probably a symbol of the unconscious. The pigeons and sparrows are the messengers between different levels of reality. Most of the animals I paint are often vermin placed in a sacred context. Holy pigeons, rats and mice, cockroaches are amongst my favorite subjects. Living in a big city, they are also the species that share my environment.”
“Montreal is definitely a great city,” he continues in regards to his present big city of choice. He relocated after vacationing there in 2000 and falling in love with the Quebec province. “The combination of cultures is very rich and inspiring and makes it unique. It’s not too big, so Montreal is still a very human city. People in general tend to be very chill and open.”
Music fuels Turf One’s painting sessions, citing a panoramic soundtrack that includes everything from legendary hip-hop producer Jay Dilla to revered jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt.
“I just like good music,” the artist shrugs. “I never paint without music. It fuels me. It’s all about good music and coffee.”
While Turf One has nothing specific planned for the time being, he’s been dabbling in taking his vision to the screen, co-directed the feature documentary “Dead Space” with his partner Lela Quesney a couple years ago. The pair has also been working on a TV show pilot based on his work.
“I basically see myself as someone who has a vision and a need to create,” Turf One says finally. “I don’t necessarily define myself solely by the mediums that I use to give life to my creations. Painting is just one of these means I found to give shape to my vision. Filmmaking could be another one.”
(Originally published by Hurley)