EK Interview: Tessar Lo

art blog - tessar lo - empty kingdom

Tessar Lo, previously featured in 2010, is having a show today at the Jaski Art Gallery in Amsterdam.  Boo-Yah!  Check out his interview below:

What of Indonesia do you remember?  What was it like growing up in Canada?

I have a lot of vignettes of Indonesia that I am not sure are memories of reality or imagination.  I see the home I lived in, climbing things in the house, a birthday cake, classmates.  Growing up, seeing photos of these memories have verified its existence once, but there are some things yet to be confirmed.  The dominant remnant of Indonesia is probably a feeling I have about it, a certain loss, a bittersweet disconnect and a yearning for it.

Growing up in Canada is great- I’m still growing up in Canada.  There is a warmness in the communities I was lucky enough to be a part of.  I think all immigrants are faced with the challenges of adaptation, (I’m sure for my parents especially,) but despite certain hardships, we found ways to be happy.  As outsiders looking in for so long, we dreamed, together- but also in our own ways of making something out of the little we had.  Canada is also great in that we embrace other cultures.  I grew up with the desire and love for cultures outside my own.

art blog - Tessar Lo - Empty Kingdom


Where was your favorite place to go when you were a kid in Toronto?

The very early years of my life in Toronto, we were closer to the city- at that time I think my favorite places were the park behind my elementary school and this massive hill in my neighborhood.  I used to luge down it on my biway skateboard.  When we moved to the suburbs a little east and north of the city, I loved biking around the neighborhoods.  As I got older I think there were less specific places I really held so precious- I was more into going different places, finding new things.


Tell us about Everything we wanted, our nostalgic future.  What was the motivation, the emotion, the idea behind it?

There’s a familiarity in the things that happen in the past, present and future cycles- and they are the things that will always happen as time progresses and centuries turn and universes form.  But also, a lot of the things that happen, we manifest- and they are the things that come from our dreams and the hopes for a better “something”.  ‘everything we wanted, in our nostalgic future,’ was made as I was coming to terms with myself- learning about what I wanted and why.  When I’m making my work- it’s a discovery about living.

art blog - Tessar Lo - Empty Kingdom

How does your personality manifest in your work?  How do your fears, anticipations, desires and passions play out in your work?

At my best, everything I’m comprised of exists within, for and from my work.


How has your work affected your lifestyle?  What is a normal day for you?

My work has afforded me a certain type of freedom that comes with a reverence for life and its changing moods.  I’ve been able to understand what I know of the world better, but also see how little I know.

There is no normal day for me- but my ideal day consists of work, play- maybe some interaction if I’m not being moody.  I like to get a little bit of outdoor time each day to just breathe and remember where I am.



What media did you use for your MΔPS?

My M∆PS show was mixed media- mostly acrylic paint, a bit of collage and oil pastels, graphite, markers.


art blog - Tessar Lo - Empty Kingdom

How did you get in contact with the Show and Tell Gallery?  What has your experience been with galleries?  What kind of advice have you learned through your experience with galleries that you could pass on to aspiring artists?


Show & tell gallery got in touch with me while I was still living in la, but we connected when I moved back to Toronto.  Most of my experience dealing with galleries have been ok- I would say most galleries mean well and work just fine, some are nightmare operations and few are actually working their asses off for their artists.  If there is something i could say to aspiring artists, it’d be to not worry so much about getting hooked up with galleries- worry more about the work you make.  But if specifically about galleries and dealers- to not be so naive, make sure you’re happy and are being treated with respect.  A good gallery will have a dialogue with you and your process, they will ask what you want as much as what they expect of you.


What’s going on in Fight After the Sermon?  What’s the story behind the piece?

Fight after the sermon was made as a tribute to gauguin- after his vision after the sermon.  His work was made as a hallucinatory depiction of jacob wrestling an angel, but it was a push-pull of reality and inner state.  I was making a bit of an allusion to the idea, but also just as an exploration of painting and my own ideas of struggling with truths and our own spirits.


art blog - Tessar Lo - Empty Kingdom


What are you currently working on?

I’m always painting and drawing- trying to break some of my own conventions.  I’ve also been itching to sculpt.  This week I’m selecting a number of paintings from a recent body of work to send to Jaski gallery in Amsterdam for a solo show on October 22.


art blog - Tessar Lo - Empty Kngdom

How are you challenging yourself as an artist?  What are you doing right now to take your work to the next level?

I’m very picky and relentless with my work- I don’t think I have that conscious decision to challenge myself, it’s a natural dissatisfaction with things that come too easy or are expected to me.  As I work, I’m always trying to create something better than my last thing.  It’s hard to outdo yourself, because if you’re working at your best effort, you are always trying to exceed your own limits.  I’m trying to take my work to the next level by talking to it during the process, trying to listen well to what it’s saying to me.  I’m thinking a lot about spontaneity and improvisation-


What have you done as an artist that has pushed your personal boundaries, taken you places that you may have not gone on your own, and possibly taught you things about yourself and your work that have had lasting impacts?

Art is a conversation that not only happens in a gallery between the piece and viewer, but also in the studio between the creator and the creation.  Trying to open my being to the spirit of creation and trying to understand where it all fits in this time and space has allowed me to get my foot in the door, in terms of pushing and knowing myself.


so stands the striving plant that has become a memory of a moment.

now, quite a bit taller, it’s lost many of its leaves in the process of growing.
there is jazz back and forth, through the window that frames the portal between outside secrets and drunken interior.
looking through it, or even, being by it- a voice starts.  
it will usually tells tales of lands with tall grass, interviewing skies and the cries of beasts only known in the spirit.
sometimes, it will just tell you to listen, then say nothing.  but not nothing.




eyes closed, the technicolour snow in the dark promises something after.  it kind of hugs, but right now- only as a child around a leg.
behind, closing in- a lone note, rising, then explosion, then falling debris.  
tally your bananas,
don your mask and garment.

Where do you see yourself two years from now?

In two years, I want to be even hungrier, even more curious than now.  I will be working with people more- I’ll know myself better and what I expect from art and this world.  I hope to be more honest than ever.

art blog - Tessar Lo - Empty Kingdom

What is the best kind of fruit?  What is the best kind of fruit pie?  If they are different, what merits does each separate fruit have?

The best kind of fruit is the one that takes over all your senses- including memory.  For me, it’s a draw between watermelons and grapefruits.

art blog - Tessar Lo - Empty Kingdom