ALL PHOTOGRAPHS AND VIDEO TAKEN BY ARION DOERR
As some of you may know, Long Island City, NYC, houses one of the largest art hot spots in the five boroughs. Amidst the cracked sidewalks, warehouses and bodegas you’ll also find large industrial buildings brimming with artist studios. We found the painter Thomas Spoerndle in one such building, quietly snuggled in an otherwise barren street. Four flights up and four/five studios over and we were there! This is where our enlightening visit begins.
The first thing we noticed upon entering Thomas’ studio was an immediate flurry of patterning – on the walls, on cork boards and on the floor. Stepping in further, our eyes absorbed a distinct trend in color; dabbles of red, yellow, blue, black and white were everywhere. We asked Thomas how he utilized this palette in relation to his process: “I usually always start with a base layer just straight out of the tube – red, yellow and blue – and then start to build that up with the dark (black pigment) or white,” he explained.
From there, Thomas lightly brushes on more layers of acrylic paint, choosing to saturate or desaturate the colors as he goes along. This routine is repeated approximately 6 times or until Thomas finds the “spatial dynamic or quality that allows the different colors to do their own thing within the system created.”
Hearing that, Nate and I realized Thomas’ paintings obtain a sort of history; that each layer is in essence, an evolution towards a final state. As the original colors are camouflaged by their own shades, the works obtain a brilliance and complexity that are subtle yet powerful at the same time. “Because the works are so graphic, you might not [immediately] get all the richness and layering – But there’s a kind of reward for paying attention” Thomas asserted.
Take the most recent paintings above for instance. Both seem to have segments of black – but that’s really only half true. The dark sections in painting on the left are actually a deep, dark blue and on the right, a very sooty yellow. I find myself imagining the very first coat of paint, pure and vibrant, just straining to shine through the murky layers on top.
As we continued our tour, Thomas went on to explain that the patterning in his work, which is energetic and instigates visual movement, “is all about variation and repetition.” Drawing inspiration from a variety of sources, such as flags, windows, and artists Frank Stella and Sol Lewitt, Thomas strives to explore the boundaries of spatial tension, color contrast and constructed meaning.
AND NOW FOR THE GRAND FINALE…
As a special treat, we’re stoked to announce our very first ‘Art-umentary’ featuring Thomas Spoerndle in his studio! Check it out. A very special thanks to photographer Arion Doerr for putting this gem of an exclusive together and Thomas Spoerndle for allowing us to film it.
Thomas Spoerndle is an artist and 2010 MFA graduate from Hunter College, New York. Originally from Ohio, he now lives and works in New York City.