Icons, unknowns and little bit of dough brings together two different styles of work from Eric Thaller. From his series Rebirth of the Pixel, Eric contrasts images of pop culture icons with that of two unknowns, one a refugee and the other homeless. Brought to life in Lego, these pieces reveal surprising detail from a distance, but one should not miss the hidden messages up close. Also featured are two newer works tackling the impact of money in our lives. These stenciled paintings are also characterized by a variety of messages embedded in the details. Eric strives to deliver not only interesting imagery but lasting impressions about the subject matter itself. Together these works beg the viewer to reflect on life’s uncertainties, what is important and the various paths we all take.
Eric is a local resident and was born here in the City of Angels.
Tell me about your upbringing? When did art become a focus for you?
I had a really wonderful childhood in Los Angeles but art wasn’t really my thing yet. Basketball was my focus as a kid. Unfortunately my athletic talents didn’t match my NBA ambitions. I went to college and did study studio art. But after college I focused on a career in finance. I ended up going back to business school and ended spending many years working on Wall Street. In 2012 I quit my horrible job. I was burned out. It was during this self-imposed time out that I started focusing on art. It was such a restorative period of exploration. I knew then that I wanted to continue making art for the rest of my life.
Your show is called ‘Icons, unknowns and a little bit of dough’. Tell me about that?
Well I’m bringing some very different styles of work together. The Lego pieces are meant to celebrate some of my favorite icons who lived extraordinary lives. These images are juxtaposed against unknown people who have endured real hardship. It is an exercise in perspective building. The two other pieces dare to share potentially irreconcilable views on money...or dough!
So can you tell me how you came up with the idea for the LEGO pieces being exhibited?
I’m really fascinated how the human eye and brain work together. This got me thinking about the notion of pixelization – any image can be broken down into small units of color. Even as the units of color get bigger, your eye works with your brain to assimilate the image. I was thinking what uniform object could I use as the units of color and it occurred to me that I could use Legos. This was the inspiration for the ‘Rebirth of the Pixel’ series which took 2 years and hundreds of thousands of Legos.
Your piece 'Getting Rich', tell me the thoughts behind it?
Like many people I suspect, I have a complicated relationship with money and it’s one I wanted to explore. I really do subscribe to the idea that a rich life will be one filled with an abundance of human connection and experience. But I’m keenly aware that money is often the means that enables those experiences, allows for a nice home and makes providing for family easier. I think a lot of people have this internal tug of war with money and the art aims to bring this to life. Seen in the daylight, the piece has a very clear message that money doesn’t give you a rich life. In the dark however, it says something else, and acknowledges that having a little dough ain’t bad…
Tell us about your routine behind creating art?
It has to start with an inspiration. This can be just about anything – something I saw or experienced, something humorous, a perspective on a current social or political trend or even just a concept. Then I start to think about how I want this to come to life visually. 3 dimensional or a canvas or a combination of both? What medium, what scale, what colors? Then I step back and think about how I can infuse a surprise into the work. How can I create an experience? Are there meaningful messages I can secretly embed in the piece? Can I add a new sense – sound or smell – to the visual? Can I integrate technology somehow? What will draw somebody in? Once I’ve got these elements identified, then I move to the easiest part – making the piece. Admittedly this whole process can take a while. My creative pace is intentionally a bit slow because I regularly find my best ideas come after a concept has been sloshing around in my brain for bit.
Are there any artists you’re inspired by?
René François Ghislain Magritte! His amazing work provides the fundamental underpinning of how I think about art. Of course there is always a visual element to art. But Magritte’s genius was to present ordinary objects in unconventional contexts, creating thought-provoking, and often witty, experiences. This pushes the viewer to think beyond the piece in front of them. This standard inspires my own approach. I don’t want anyone to walk away from my work and forget about it ten seconds later. I want them to consider what they saw…and thought…and experienced. Maybe if I’m lucky I can inspire