Eric Thaller appropriates digital iotas for use as mark-making in his portraits and text-based works, built from Lego bricks or constructed from gridded emojis to explore and illuminate the centrality and ubiquity of the pixel in modern visual culture. It’s as though in realizing that the IRL world has already been translated into pixels, and is primarily consumed through pixels, Thaller is bringing the character and fact of them back out into this world of dimension and object. Reading from a distance that dissolves the image on closer inspection, even as it increasingly reveals its own physicality, the work morphs as viewers approach and retreat, decoding and re-mystifying the images and the message, in the process deconstructing the binary abstraction of the information stream. His choice of image and message reflect collective popular culture memes, the better to see ourselves embedded in the compositions.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
ERIC THALLER: I was quite young. I remember doodling on everything when I was a little kid at Westwood Elementary. Nothing was safe. It was tough to keep my attention if I had a pen or pencil and something to draw on. I guess you could say I was a prolific grade school graffiti artist.
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
My work is about creating an accessible experience for the audience. I certainly try to create delightful imagery, but I want to surprise the viewer with process, medium, a hidden message or even a dose of humor. I don’t want anyone to just glance at my work and walk away. I want them to engage with it.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
I would probably be a writer. I’m drawn to amazing stories of human experience and intrigued by the little details that make us unique individuals and also connect us as human beings.
Why do you live and work in L.A., and not elsewhere?
L.A. really is home for me. I was born and raised here. But I also think it is an incredible place for an artist to live. It’s a melting pot of ethnicities, religions, and social and political ideologies and perspectives. There is simply an unending supply of diverse human experience from which to draw.
When was your first show?
My first solo show was March 2019 at the Castelli Art Space. The show was curated by the art critic and historian Peter Frank and I debuted my series Rebirth of the Pixel. It included more than 15 pieces made entirely of Legos. Took me two years and a couple hundred thousand Legos to complete the work.
What artist living or dead would you most like to show with?
Rene Magritte. I have always loved how his work draws people in with witty and thought-provoking images. He was masterful at depicting ordinary objects in an unusual way and challenging the viewer’s preconceived notions of what is in front of them. I’ve really tried to infuse these elements into my work.
Do you listen to music while you work? If so what?
Yes I do. My taste is all over the map. I like to say I’m genre fluid. I’ve been working on an image of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. So recently I’ve been listening to a lot of Led Zeppelin.
Website and social media handles, please!