Born: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1990
Resides: Los Angeles, California
Thai Mainhard’s abstract paintings combine expressive mark making with dense blocks of color to create complex and emotive compositions that navigate the space between chaos and calm. Her works draw inspiration from Abstract Expressionism, recalling the work of Willem de Kooning, Cy Twombly, and Joan Mitchell. Mainhard works with a variety of media—including oil paint, oil sticks, spray paint, and charcoal—to create intuitive imagery that externalizes her feelings and personal experiences. Mainhard has exhibited internationally in Italy, Germany, and the United States; her 2021 debut solo exhibition in New York was titled “Problem-Solver.”
LAUNCH F18 - SOLO SHOW NEW YORK JULY 2021
Within this new series of paintings, Mainhard has created a body of works that combines expressive and gestural motions, alongside more controlled forms and blocks of color. Central to Mainhard’s work is the ability to strike balance between chaos and order, building upon a tension that is core to Mainhard’s practice. Using a variety of media, the artist constructs her work with oil paint, oil stick and even at times with charcoal, producing a variety of visual effects and painting techniques.
Exploring formal painting qualities, Mainhard captures shape, light, color and multiple planes that seize the complexities of human emotions on a two-dimensional surface. Within these works lies abstract autobiographical elements that present the artist in unique, vulnerable, and deeply personal moments. The compositions featured in Problem-Solver showcase the power of expression and tie these works to the lineage of a greater history of human expression, conveying the lasting desire to connect people through building visual imagery.
"My work is a way of coping with extreme emotions and extreme human experiences. It's a way to alleviate and build tension at the same time"
“My approach to art is raw and intuitive, each mark relying on a feeling and eternalizing it in mediums, bridging the gap from brain to the heart to ultimately make us feel connected to our spirit. It’s a faith based approach - hoping it all translates into the surface and that it somehow brings resolve, peace and hope in the midst of the chaos.”
Abstract Mag Interview, April 2020
Hi Thai, please tell us a little about yourself, what brought you into the world of art?
My name is Thai Mainhard, I am an abstract painter based in California. I was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and I've lived in the United States now for almost 10 years with my husband and now 2 little kids. I've recently moved to Southern California after living in the Northern part of the state for 9 years. My work carries pieces of all these places, which I am deeply in love with. I grew up in an artistic environment and I've done most (creative) expressions as a child, but one that always stuck to me was painting and drawing. Everybody in school knew me for that. Like that one kid that can draw, and that really cemented in me. I went to college for design in Rio de Janeiro and not long after that I moved here and got a degree in Studio Arts. I was very fortunate to have excellent teachers in college that pushed me and saw me. I have confidence saying that if it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be having a career as an abstract painter now. Very thankful.
I'm sure in college you have studied all the styles of fine art. Why abstraction?
I did. My favorite class in college was actually figure drawing and I still do a lot of figurative sketches. The human body is so fascinating – the lines and shapes it creates. However in abstract I found a form of expression that translated best what I wanted to say – or not say – leaving it open to interpretation. I am drawn to the openness of it, the challenge of having a blank canvas in front of me and knowing it can be absolutely anything I want. it's very freeing. Although one of my favorite things about the process of painting abstract is the fight. The point that we reach that we have to fight to find resolve, the push and pull, the stepping out and stepping back in, sometimes going on for hours or days, until that resolve is finally reached. There's no better feeling in the world than that.
Could you tell us more about your style, what ideas or mood you put into your work.
My work is very emotional by nature. I rely on colors to set the atmosphere and play off of each other like our emotions do inside of us. I want to paint with physical mediums and surfaces what we feel inside as humans, feelings already abstract by nature, and bringing some kind of resolve within ourselves about being in our own skin and living on this planet in our (mortal) bodies. Relieve the incredible tension of what we can only feel but not see what goes on. It's giving color, shape and form to that. The nature of being human, how small and fragile we are. My work in its essence is very processional of the internal and how it affects our thought patterns and ultimately shapes us into the people that we become, one day at a time. So I like to explore the mundane, dialogues and monologues, relationships, how we rely on each other for survival.
Which artists have especially inspired and inspire you so far?
The first artist I was ever drawn to for his sense of freedom and abstraction was J W Turner. I love how even back in the 1700s he gave us the first glimpse of that. His brushstrokes and color play are fascinating. But the first modern abstract artist that I was deeply influenced by was Cy Twombly with all his scribbles and oddly simple materials that made such powerful pieces. Joan Mitchell is another big inspiration. Her piece "Bracket" was the first larger-than-life piece that I saw in person and I just stared and cried. I am very drawn to Basquiat for his strong messages and bold color choices. In this new series I'm inspired by his solid color backgrounds and mark making. Willem De Kooning, Mark Rothko, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró are also strong influences.
Tell us about your studio, it seems you work at home.
I do. I am very fortunate to have a good setup at home, especially during these times where we are practicing social distancing and isolating ourselves. I wouldn't have it any other way. To be able to be home with my kids and work at the same time is a privilege I don't take for granted.
This is a very productive process, but where to get so much energy and inspiration from?
To be honest it's not easy to find energy and inspiration most days, but I try to at least work on sketches on paper everyday, or even sketch on my phone to get ideas out of my head. But when I get going it's hard to stop. When these bursts come they usually last about a week and at the end of that week I have a handful of big paintings and lots of works on paper (and I am also very tired, I must say. Nights tend to be very long, so they're not very sustainable). I do those at the same time and I like that variation of surface material and scale, it keeps things interesting and tricks my brains enough to not repeat the same movement over and over again. I am inspired mostly by the day to day interactions that I have and thought patterns that I see in myself and people around me, so there's a lot to be worked through at the end of any given day or week. When I am not on "full production" mode, I'm stretching canvases, working through my supplies and getting my studio ready for the next one.
Plans and goals for this year, it seems you already have a planned exhibition.
Yes I do, in Germany. It was supposed to be in March 2020, but it got postponed to this summer because of Covid. I want to do more shows here in the Los Angeles area and Southern California, New York and London. Let's see how it goes!
PUZZLE, Roman Sviridov Gallery, Milan, Italy (GROUP)
Interactions, Simard Bilodeau Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA (GROUP)
A Place To Land, Solo Show, Roman Sviridov Gallery, Milan (SOLO)
Problem-Solver, Solo Show, Launch F18, New York, NY (SOLO)
Impressions Of Her, Glass Rice, San Francisco, CA (GROUP)
LA Art show, Simard Bilodeau Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA (GROUP)
West Bund Art & Design, Simard Bilodeau Contemporary, Shanghai, China (GROUP)
The Space Between You And I, Simard Bilodeau Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA (SOLO)
PAINTING NOW, Sebastian Fath Contemporary, Mannheim, Germany (GROUP)
LA Art show, Simard Bilodeau Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA
SIMARD BILODEAU CONTEMPORARY - LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 27TH-JUNE 18TH (GROUP SHOW)
GILMAN CONTEMPORARY - SUN VALLEY, ID - JULY 5TH - AUGUST 8TH (GROUP SHOW)
LANOUE GALLERY - BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 5TH-SEPTEMBER 28TH (SOLO EXHIBITION)
GLASS RICE - SAN FRANCISCO, CA - NOVEMBER 5TH-OCTOBER 10TH (SOLO SHOW)