The true spirit of the artist runs through Thomas Linder. His work is rooted in the essentials of sculpture while expanding the medium by incorporating unexpected elements, creating pieces that are sturdy yet effervescent. He evokes the light and bliss of a James Turrell while singing a pretty Pantone’d tune and cheekily nodding to the architectural stoicism of Donald Judd. On top of art-making, he and his fellow comrades (Adam Beris and Timo Fahler – all hailing from Kansas City) founded BBQLA, an artist-run space that grew out of real backyard barbecues and ad-hoc shows with friends. It was recently cited as one of L.A.’s top alternative galleries in W magazine.
His most recent show at Ibid reveals a more tender Linder. Steel and wood paired with colorful resins recall psychedelic recitations of the formality of Nam June Paik’s TV stacks while circumventing the weight of technology. They are both strong and relaxed; gestures of hopeful meditation that also hold tenancy. He gives us one of arts great gifts: the feeling of being lifted, held with necessary contemplation.
Experimentation is my primary function as an artist in studio. Simple ideas become assignments in which I investigate materials, processes and variations on continuing formats. I like to look at my creative process as play. The path of least resistance, I find, is the quickest way to tap into my subconscious visual and experiential library. When I analyze the finished product it proves easy to understand where the imagery comes from; growing up heavily involved with my family’s greenhouse business growing flowers, the stained glass in the catholic church, etc. The monotony of these two experiences has developed in me a fine creative outlet in daydreaming.
How has your work evolved over time?
The most prevalent change that can be seen in my oeuvre is materials. New materials create new problems and open up new worlds of creative solutions. From inflatables and LEDs in the recent past to the current wood and fiberglass construction, I feel like I am finding a bit more simplicity and focus. What’s next? Maybe glass, an exciting new set of possibilities and constraints I’m developing some ideas for.
Do you believe all art to be inherently political, if so why?
I can’t find a reason to believe that this is true. Sometimes art is light, sometimes art is heavy.
What do you get from the process that you cannot get in any other way?
I need to keep my hands busy to stay sane. Sure, I could get a real job but what do I do when they send me home at five o’clock? I think many artist are fiddlers, doodlers and busy-bodies. I am guilty of all three and a total workaholic.
What for you is the most important piece of art you have ever experienced?
Three years ago I saw an incredible show, Claes Oldenburg: The Sixties, at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a great institution. One piece in that show has since been my background image on my computer; Tub (Hard Model). It appears to be a sketch or template for the much more well known soft version, it is a rudimentary wood and cardboard construction of a bathtub which is lazily painted white and blue. The simple wooden structure and loose craft of this piece inspired a whole body of work which was much of the focus of my recent show at Ibid Gallery in Los Angeles. You can’t even find an image of this piece online. The only one I have is the one I took myself. It’s so Important to not only see art, but to get out and experience it in person. It is forever catalogued in my subconscious, visual library.
What are you working on at the moment?
Right now I’m working on a curatorial project that I can’t fully disclose right now. I am the Co-founder of an Artist run space called BBQLA along with Adam Beris and Timo Fahler. This is a very important part of my practice in LA. We have been curating shows out of a space in my studio and other locations for about a year and a half now. It’s allowed us to work with really great artists like Jen Guidi and Will Boone as well as develop and be part of a huge up and coming group of young artists.
What is your definition of beauty?
Have you ever seen a whole crop of orange and yellow marigolds so intensely bright that it makes your eyes water? That is true beauty.