A veteran of THU, artist Jeremy Mann is going to be coming back to the festival for the third year in a row. Now, either he's really fond of Tróia's magical beaches, or there's something about THU that has him addicted. We spoke to him about his experience at THU, both the event's and his personal evolution over the years, and his role in this year's incredible THU Gallery.
It's not your first time at THU. Why do you keep coming back?
The first time I was invited, I was completely skeptical: “why on god’s green earth do they want ME there?” That choice to go has literally changed my life, and every time is new and different. Most workshops in the world are completely useless, watching artists work waiting for the magical revelation to pop in your head. Trojan Horse is nowhere near that, you can barely call it a Workshop, but there’s no other good word that could possibly encompass the point and effect of it. It changes you, it combines the brightest most innovative minds from all creative worlds and mashes all the energy, imagination, intelligence and most importantly, the family at your feet.
What is your best THU memory so far?
Alternating coffee, wine and leaps into the cold pool just to stay awake and function at 120%, being drawn while painting by the master inspiration of Kim Jung Gi, the surprising view into the personal work of Michael Kutsche, foxes stealing purses from the middle of the ocean at a midnight low tide, conversations with attendees that aren’t about “what brush do you use” but things like “how can an artist have a successful relationship?” and seeing paper cutout animations, sketches so rendered but creepy and loose, all the fresh ideas from the hundreds of talented attendees but also meeting the wonderful human beings behind the names of the people who have inspired me for years.. to have one best memory from this sort of event is impossible, there is not one best memory... there are thousands, and I can barely remember them in complete phrases because THU always feels like a whirlwind dream you never want to wake up from.
Has THU changed over the years?
It only gets better. As with anything of this size, it takes a monumental team, planning and organizing for months without reward, hammering out the issues and imagining new ways to inspire. It then explodes with one week of the greatest inspiring and educating minds in all fields of artistry coming together like the split seconds before a nuclear blast, critical mass. The explosion of creativity is spread throughout every soul who witnessed that blast, and the radiation of inspiration lingers within each of the hundreds of attendees now spread across the globe, changed forever by that event. Every year, that crew of mad scientists led by Andre and Scott, refine their art bomb into a more devastating device against the mundane world, an explosion which opens minds.
How has THU changed you?
My eyes were opened by Alberto Mielgo to a new way of truly *seeing* the subject and my entire approach to drawing and painting has become elevated. My eyes were open to gaze upon my own *life* from outside myself by meeting Loic Zimmermann and allowing him to create a documentary about my sheltered self. My eyes were opened to find a very real and true soulmate there in front of my cloudy eyes for years. And my eyes were opened to see the physical and mental results of what can happen in the art world when a man of Andre’s caliper, charisma, and quality is let loose without ego. What he is trying to do for the world is not only beautiful, but necessary. The study of art is the study of us, and a world truly inspired and growing with artistry creates better people, and our world needs that these days. Having met Andre, I can say without a doubt, he is that rare sort of man to whom I would give my first born son, so that he may learn what it’s like to be a good man, to be a quality human being.
This year we are launching a completely new “Gallery”. Since you're in charge of this, can you tell us what it will be exactly?
As much as “workshop” truly isn’t the right word for Trojan Horse, “gallery” isn’t the right word for this room either. But we can’t call it “The Inspirational Dream World of Artistic Knowledge” because people would get scared. With the melding of minds and invaluable help and ideas from Nadezda, Alberto Mielgo, and Phil Hale, we are approaching this year’s Gallery as a space which solves the questions of “what are the answers to the questions artists are truly seeking?” We'll soon tell you more about it.
What are you most looking forward to at this year's edition?
The end! Haha! Just like every year… the amount of physical and emotional stress that goes into throwing this sort of event pervades all our days. And when we land in Portugal, the moment we step off that plane, into the cars, and that long slow ride across the water on that yellow-green ferry is a grueling and slow moment of visual quiet while our minds are reeling. It’s like when, in a war film, they slow the footage, or there’s a pause, or a moment of intense tenseness right before the battle. During the battle, during THU, all of us run at full speed, all our wits, all our energy, I barely got more than 4 hours of sleep last year on any given night. Pulling off this sort of event takes a million moments to trigger and work perfectly, and we all know that many of them will go tits up no matter what, so not only are we prepared for a life changing experience, we are also prepared to be on our knees and humbled. But at the end... when the haze of the week has gently lifted, and you see that strange new look in the eyes of the attendees, and you stand strong and still amidst the chaos with your family of artists at your side, knowing that, wherever you go on your own path, they too are changed by these days, their paths, their struggles, their successes… their lives… are just as new and beautiful… well... that’s the moment right there. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what I wait for.