Thrush Holmes is a self-taught Toronto-based artist, who at 29, has exhibited throughout Canada and the US, and has been placed among Canada’s top-selling living artists. His work has been accessioned into numerous celebrity and high-profile collections, including the Government of Ontario Art Collection, and Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Art Collection (Canada), and has garnered considerable national and international critical acclaim. Thrush Holmes creates diverse compositions in several disciplines and under multiple names (THRUSH HOLMES, C. CHANGE), ranging from abstract painting to photographic-based mixed-media compositions, both intimate and tremendous in scale. The scope of his current work is wide, tackling notions of art, myth, introspection, and biography, while maneuvering a wide range of iconography, visual vocabulary, and mediums.
Thrush Holmes: artist, singer, songwriter, photographer. Which one do you enjoy the most?
I would say "artist" represents the integrated whole. As I get older it becomes increasingly difficult to separate such things. The level of enjoyment and disdain is the same throughout.
What does your art work mean to you?
What is your favorite media and surface?
I navigate through media in waves. Certain pieces necessitate a particular approach. I can't be satisfied with the regimented use of one medium or surface. Can't say that I really have a preference.
What is your source of inspiration?
What are your favorite themes?
Still life, Romanticism, Idealism, Mythology.
Do you have an overall style and aesthetic for your art?
My work is wildly varied. I don't know if I'm the best person to address this question as I have such difficulty when generalizing what I do.
What message do you wish to communicate with your art?
Don't know if there is a central message. I try not to assert any lessons. Each piece has its own set of communicative characteristics.
Are you seeking for a particular reaction from the viewer?
I try to make the work seductive enough to be universal. When a particular piece achieves an audience, it needs to have the ability to sustain it. It should perform on a variety of emotional planes. I try to avoid indifference in the viewer - I much prefer a love or hate response.
When do you consider an art piece is finished?
They usually let me know when they're through tormenting me. At a certain point the piece succumbs and there is a marked shift in our relationship. The room becomes brighter.
How long does it typically take you to complete a finished work?
Somewhere between 10 minutes and 10 months.
How has your art evolved in the past years?
Radically. I'm always in the act of becoming. I think the most considerable change is in responsibility. When I was younger I would release everything, and now I edit in an effort to have a leaner catalogue of work.
What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you face when making your art?
Dealing with the associated chemicals. I've developed a sensitivity due to prolonged exposure. It's a drag - I have to be more cautious and take breaks, which becomes challenging given my inherent impetuousness. I'm a demon worker and have a reputation for working around the clock. I suppose overarching is also a problem.
What do you consider your biggest achievement as an artist?
I don't think in these terms. I'm never really satisfied with achievements. I reconcile myself with the universe.
What or who made you what you are today?
Fate and perseverance.
You achieved a global audience for your work that includes customers in Dubai, Japan, Korea and Germany, amongst others, and famous names like Halle Berry and Elton John. How does this make you feel?
The celebration of these things is fleeting for me. I'm constantly reevaluating my situation and am too curious about things to come to linger in the history of my successes.
Do you do commissioned artwork?
I don't. I stopped agreeing to this a few years ago. I found it too compromising and I would invariably be trying with some desperation to please the unknown desires of the lone patron. I don't have the constitution for it anymore.
What does Thrush Holmes Empire mean to you?
I don't know anymore. Like anything, I think I'll understand it with more clarity when in retrospect. I'm shutting it down to pursue other opportunities at the end of December after 5 years.
What would you ask yourself that we haven’t asked you in this interview?
Perhaps I would ask what happens next - to which I would respond: I'm writing a screen play, doing a few shows, producing miscellaneous collaborative projects, setting up another studio, etc., etc....