Dutch duo Telmo Miel returns to Thinkspace Projects for their latest show opening on February 1, 2020. Ever since a dynamic debut at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam in 2007, the two have been making large-scale murals and showcasing surreal paintings all over Europe and the United States. Their incisively rendered work fuses multiple elements into a single dramatic composition with precise detail and a fearless approach to color. Ahead of the show, Telmo Miel spoke with Thinkspace Projects to discuss the show's objective, their creative process, and recent projects since their last interview.

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Disappearing, 2020. Oil on wood panel, 12" × 12".

Thinkspace Projects: Do you have a pre-studio routine or pre-mural ritual? How do you get your butt in gear?
Telmo Miel: We need deadlines. Without them, it’s more difficult to get your butt in gear. If we don’t receive deadlines, we’ll make them ourselves. For murals, it is not so difficult because you have a trip and within that trip, it needs to be finished. Most of the time, you just have about a week. I think it helps that we work together because you can kick each other on the butt when stuff needs to be done.

What is the inspiration, and what themes were explored during this latest body of work?
For this show, we try to find symbolism in the things we've come across or experienced while traveling and creating in recent years. Encounters. It’s a series on the smaller things in life, things that make life worth living. Crossing thresholds, feelings of regret, love and aversion. Moments captured to illustrate personal encounters or milestones in life.

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Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers, 2019. Oil on wood panel, 12" × 12".

What is your favorite and least favorite part of the creative process?
The last part of painting, the detailing, is most fun. The least fun is getting started with the underlayers of a painting, necessary but not fulfilling. Especially when you see the second layer needs a third.

Is there a particular piece that really challenged you? If so, what makes you proud of this piece?
The piece with the horse took some thinking ahead, I really wanted to make the red-orange part pop compared to the rest. But fluorescent paint is shit because it loses its bright color quickly. So to avoid that, I paint those parts bright white, then apply multiple thin layers of the right color in oil paint. Now it pops like fluorescent paint without using it!

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Along For The Ride, 2020. Oil on Linen, 39" × 55.1".

If you could make a movie poster for any film, what film would it be?
Star Wars (universe).
Miel: Star Wars (universe).

What is the coolest or most exciting thing to happen to you in life thus far? Is it related to your work?
T: I got the chance to swim cageless amongst sharks in Hawaii, definitely one of the coolest things I ever did thanks to the Pow!Wow! Hawaii Festival.
M: Having a son is maybe the most boring but most logical answer. And it’s connected to art in the way that I met my current partner, working for her at-the-time new gallery.

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Dreams of Regret, 2019. Oil on custom wood panel, 16.5" × 16.5".

Your work has taken you around the world, what is your most memorable meal?
T: On a trip to Bueno Aires, they took me to a great steakhouse. It was not only an abundance of meat, but it’s still the best steak I’ve ever had.
M: A lot of memorable meals come to mind. But for me, it’s always the boquerones fritos we had in Burgos, Spain last year. They're a kind of fried anchovies.

Your work expresses a real love for color. What brand do you guys use and what is your favorite color?
T: Dirty reds/purples and Dirty Salmon tones are our favorites. We use a wide range of paint brands.
M: For oil paint, we use Rembrandt, Winsor & Newton, and Old Holland. Our favorite spray can is Montana BLACK.

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Consume, 2020. Oil on Linen, 39" × 39".

If you could download any skill into your brain, Matrix-style, what would it be?
T: Teleportation.
M: Ability to fly.

The two of you met in Willem de Kooning Academy and have been collaborating together since 2012. How has your artistic relationship developed over the years, and what is the best advice you would give about having a creative partner?
T: It is good to go back and forth on ideas and brainstorm together. When creating new ideas, you can inspire and push each other more. It’s like healthy competition, in some way, where we push each other to learn, be critical, grow and make our latest work even better than before.
M: Besides that, it’s most important to balance that with the right amount of freedom. Every painter has their own ideas, so we also try to separate opinions and give space to evolve.

Thinkspace Projects opens TelmoMiel's Encounters on February 1, 2020, with an opening reception from 6 to 9 pm, and is on view through February 22, 2020.