New York-based contemporary painter, Todd James began his artistic career in a way familiar to many New Yorkers: by tagging the subway system under the pseudonym Reas. Having solidified his reputation on the street art scene, he transferred his skills to the canvas to create large-scale works in a distinctive style of gouache and graphite, full of vivid block colours.
With a practice spanning design, installation and more traditional fine art pursuits, Todd has collaborated with the likes of Beastie Boys, Iggy Pop, Eminem and Miley Cyrus throughout his career. His work is informed by the images we know from the onslaught of media that surrounds us. Todd’s paintings appropriate such topical subject matter, reproducing them as tranquil scenes that offer a moment of contemplation. Despite the obvious street art and comic book influences, Todd states painters such as Willem de Kooning, Peter Saul, Matisse and Franz Kline as having an impact on his work.
Although never overtly political, Todd’s images “always seem to stem from a sentiment of now”. His paintings, although initially appearing lighthearted and fanciful are subtly honest in their depiction of Somali pirates liberating goods or gun-toting soldiers taking cover in foliage. However, his most recent series Interior, sees the self-taught artist focus his attention on more familiar and mundane scenes.
Comprising of nine new works on canvas and eight on paper, currently on display at Eighteen Gallery in Copenhagen, the series creates complex compositions of mediative interiors. Featuring objects such as chairs, tables, flowers, books, paintings, fruits and the occasional nude, the images reference tropes from the rich tradition of interior painting; however, the classical subject matter is made contemporary through Todd’s unconventional colour palette.
As is the custom in Todd’s work, objects are rendered as flat blocks of colour. Without the use of shade or tone, he instead utilises perspective, shape and form to create believable scenes. For example, many of the images showcase paintings of interiors hung on their walls which, in turn, have their own again. “These compositions lead your eye and mind deeper and deeper into colour fields where figuration dissolves and the imagination roams,” states the gallery.
Interior is on display at Eighteen Gallery now and will remain open until 24 February.
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