In the Honeycomb
Stepping into Trystan Bates’ workspace, the first thing I noticed was its sleek simplicity – only a handful of small, colorful pieces were hung up on the walls, with a single black and white table occupying the middle of the room. Any type of art-related work can be inherently messy, but something about this place made me feel instantly calmer (a welcome change, as my bus ride had been particularly chaotic that day). Trystan greeted me with a bright, familiar accent, gesturing for me to sit down with him when I arrived. I took out my notebook while energetic music played from a speaker system in the background. Maybe it was his artistic intuition, but before I could open my mouth, he seemed to know exactly what my first few questions would be.
First, let’s take it back to the beginning. Being a New York native, Trystan’s original purpose with creating Honeycomb in 2008 was to bridge the gap between artists from New York and Buenos Aires. He focused on creating an outlet mainly for local Buenos Aires street artists to showcase their work while exchanging ideas with similar creative minds, which quickly generated more interest and soon gave way to additional “crossover” projects and group shows. After several years, Trystan needed a more public space where he could host these exhibitions, and the gallery’s showroom was born. He smiles as he tells me this was a “cool time,” and rightly so – it was the first space where other people could experience what he and his artists had been working on.
I asked Trystan to describe Honeycomb in one word, and again, there was virtually zero hesitation in his answer. The theme of collaboration has pervaded throughout Honeycomb’s history – whether it is two Argentinian street artists or a group of fine art painters from different countries – the idea is to put artists together that wouldn’t normally work within the same space. He noticed that this method of cross-cultural collaboration brought out new elements in their artwork and ultimately allowed for a more interesting final product. This did not come without challenges, however: from a business perspective, coordinating schedules and deadlines was tough, since many of his artists were in different countries/time zones. Artistically, Trystan’s biggest challenge was ensuring that the visual aesthetic worked. When two strangers are asked to produce a “diptic” (two pieces hung side by side) together, the two pieces have to function together thematically and/or visually. Even harder, Trystan told me, is when two different artists are physically working on one single piece. It’s crucial that the visual development makes sense.
Which brings us to Honeycomb’s most recent collaborative show, titled Good Things: Love. The show features a series of new pieces all dedicated to the theme of love. Trystan gave his artists specific questions on which they could base their work – for example, he asked them to produce something related to the thing they love most, or how they thought love could make the world a better place. In contrast to some of their previous shows, Trystan says, this one was much more “tailored” in terms of the theme choice. The show attracted a wide mix of people, from other street artists to seniors and even children, who surely enjoyed some of the interactive elements.
This is part of a series of annual shows that Trystan is hosting. “The very first project I did was based on love,” he says, “The idea is that every year we are going to base one project or show on one good thing in life.” He points at one of his favorite paintings on the wall, explaining to me how it a represents a type of love for animals and nature. “The idea is to start a cycle of love.”
What’s next for Honeycomb? Well, the future is certainly bright: He hopes to build an umbrella company, integrating textiles into his current work to provide home decor options. Ultimately, Trystan’s end goal is to create a residency cycle between Argentina and the US by the end of 2017, providing an environment in Buenos Aires where artists can escape from city life and truly focus on their artwork.
“I think we lose a bit of ourselves when we’re so connected,” he explains. I glanced at my phone sitting on the black and white table in front of us, and couldn’t help but agree.
- Thames 2176, Tuesday – Friday 3-8pm; Saturday 3-6pm