Saturday, January 10, 2009

James Jean "Kindling" Opening

James Jean's first solo exhibit, Kindling, opened tonight and it is fantastic. It was a larger collection of work than I had expected, mostly large scale mixed media paintings, with a number of small meticulously crafted sketches and drawings.

James describes his subjects as "gliding through the tableaux, tracing a narrative of thwarted desires." His work in general, and this show in particular, is often entirely populated by children. The fluidity and ease at which he draws and the atmospheric application of color creates a pleasant space to be in...until you actually look at what is going on: unflinching and without judgment, Jean shows children as adorable and sweet and all id.

His use of line work and limited value ranges are often compared to Asian scroll painting, although I image his years working on the Fables has also been an influence. The larger paintings create mythic worlds full of of symbols and topsy-turvy logic. Grimm and their dark acknowledgment of children never seem too far away.

Words like brilliant and genius are too often bandied about but in the case, James Jean is a remarkable artist who (it's hard to believe) at 30 has only just started his career. I can't imagine what will come out of him over the next 30 years.

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All paintings are displayed on the Johnathan Levine Gallery website.

A number of photos from the opening on my flickr set.

I'm told Chronicle books will be publishing a catalog of the exhibit. In meantime, Fables Covers
is a stunning collection of paintings, sketches, and thoughts from Jean.

16 comments:

S.M.Vidaurri said...

the show was a blast, seeing an original james jean piece in person was an awesome experience. Not that I was surprised, but the show was amazing. It was nice talking with you for a bit as well, maybe i'll see you at nycc

bill said...

green with envy

donny said...

i'm also quite jealous. your photos of everything are fantastic though, thanks for them!

Tony Shasteen said...

I plan on making it to the show when I'm there for NYCC. Thanks for the write up.

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