Saturday, January 21, 2006

Student Work

>oil on cradled wood panel, 8 x 10", 2001.

>oil on linen, 11 x 15", 2000.

Life Paintings, 2000 - 2001
To provide some context, I've posted a couple of figure paintings I did when I was in school 5 years ago. They are quite stiff and fussy, but I was trying to push my powers of observation - when to hone in on a patch of flesh, when to step back, mulling over the relationships between color, value, edges, and intensity of content. I would paint the figure very differently now -- I'm hoping to bring some brushes and ink the next time I go figure drawing.


Ester said...

I really like your first piece here (the 8x10). For some reason I am reminded a bit of Egon Schiele's moody, elongated drawings when I look at this man. You did excellent with the sense of flesh depth under his skin by the colors and veins popping out subtly. I really like your more recent work too, but this really caught my eye, so I wanted to tell you.

4:21 PM  
chris hope said...

thanks James. It will be nice to see the transition in time in your work.

8:43 PM  
Br1 said...

Excellent, all the works are really beautiful, already until entered desire to paint, jejeje is an inspiration to see this type of works and to their authors. bye!.

10:01 AM  
jed said...

I'm first amazed at the scale of these things--they feel larger to me.

It's hard to tell just what might be "fussy" about them at this size. It would be nice to see a detail to get a sense of how you work.

If they ARE stiff, I don't see stiff by definition as a negative. Otto Dix's figures were very stiff--you could say that of Ingres too. One of the things I do like about your present work is the dynamism of the figures, so yes, these paintings are stiffer than your present work, but that doesn't make them bad paintings.

In general, you could stand to post larger images in both your blog, and on your site--we all pretty much have DSL now, and I for one, want to get a better look at this stuff.

4:30 AM  
Julie Henslee Adams said...

not stiff and fussy! i especially like the first one. very odd nerdrum-esque... minus the stark landscape. and genitalia.

thank you for the print i ordered and received. it's beautiful.

1:02 PM  
Jed said...

I was an admirer of Nerdrum, but less so when I finally saw one of his works in person. Nerdrum, if anyone, is a fussy painter. While Rembrandt made every mark count, Nerdrum doesn't seem to be able to get out of his own way. With all those scratchy little marks Nerdrum makes, it's as if he's trying to force the materials to conform to his will, instead of letting the materials act as a medium in the truest sense, as a dialogue between the subject and the actual physical aspect of the paint.

I would say the same of any medium--even if it's a mouse--it all comes down to what your hand does, and how the tool defines how the subject is expressed. If you fight with your tools, or don't respect the limitations and advantages of your media, the result will always be fussy and labored.

On the other hand, I do respect Nerdrum's facility as a draftsman, and his ability to make compellling images. That doesn't make him a good painter, however.

Anyway James, I'm glad you were able to overcome your fussy tendencies, something I'll have to take your word for since it's maddeningly impossible to tell from these images at this size how you might've painted them.

1:46 PM  
julie henslee adams said...

interesting. i had the same reaction when i saw one of nerdrum's in person. he actually uses very short abrupt strokes and overall the paintings are powdery and dull - and too muddy. and i think his subject matter is overly contrived (as i mock above).

a comparison to lucian freud would have been far more flattering and in the same vein of lonely stripped emotionally naked fleshy people art.

8:41 PM  
jed said...

I'm not TOO quick to dismiss Nerdrum's subject matter. I know it's notoriously considered kitsch (there's even a site dedicated to kitsch I found that features his work prominantly along with the work of Ann Rand {!}) but, like Rand, I appreciate the scale of his monomania. It's such a rigorous and focused effort, it's hard to dismiss. And he can definately DRAW. It's like someone who makes giant castles out of toothpicks or something. You can ask, "why?", or you can appreciate the scale, determination and beauty of the accomplishment. And, thankfully, Nerdrum isn't nearly as dangerous as Rand.

Kitsch in general isn't by definition, bad. Kitsch objects tend to be little islands of idealism, excluding all that's unnaceptable in the little universes in which they exist. The more complex a kitsch universe becomes, the larger the kitsch landscape, and the more complex the rationale becomes for it's existance. So that's my best defense of Nerdrum.

And really, the DC comics Universe that James gets the priveledge of occasionally messing with is a vast monument of kitsch. The audiences brings so much to these images. They know and love these characters, and every time you include one of them in an image, it's going to have all these very specific associations . On the other hand, these associations are so specific, sometimes there's very little you can add to the equation, beyond your own craft.

Superman for example, is gloriously vulgur in the Odd Nerdrum tradition. He wears a costume that's just a little less subtle than a baboons ass, and his primary purpose in life seems to be to beat the shit out of people. This is all of course, under the guise of truth justice and the American way, but when it comes down to it, month after month, "justice" always seems to take the form of him pummelling somebody. It's the bluntest and most primitive way to solve a problem, to hit it. And still, he's this admirable boyscout of a figure.

I reccommend Milan Kundera's book, Life is Elsewhere for a well drawn and satirical portrait of the inherant kitsch of Stalinism, the attempt to practically apply an idealised system that ultimately proved to be dangerously kitsch. Which is the ultimate problem of kitsch. It's all good and fine when it's relegated to pop culture and art, but once you try to take your imaginary universe and project it on the world, bad things happen. Contradictions that worked perfectly well as fictions become real life dangers.

Superman would be the most frightenning thing imaginable as a reality, since his main method of fixing things is destructive. He has this sense of obligation, this belief that he has to protect us, but the only way he could do this using the methods he has at his disposal, is to opress us. Sound familiar?

1:55 AM  
julie henslee adams said...

yes. odd nerdrum draws well.
yes. the superhero (and most comics) are kitschy - as are many things "pop culture" including 80s hair bands, reality tv and, honestly, most illustration. what's the difference between freud and nerdrum? a picture of id rather than super-ego? we COULD go on and on...

bad is a matter of opinion and i don't think kitsch is 'bad'. i love mark ryden who could be called kitsch. i also love marvel/dc and buffy. but i couldn't listen to more than 1 poison song - though buffy is just as kitsch.

and by that token i'm still lukewarm on nerdrum. his kitsch simply isn't compelling to me - but i'd take him above a forced listening to poison(except that one 'good times' song - haha). btw, nerdrum fully embraces his kitsch status - if you check out his page.

and we've hijacked this thread. and i think james jean can do anything - kitsch or no - very well.

9:53 AM  
Anonymous said...

Fuck all that. Robert Crumb said it best, "'Art' is just a racket, a HOAX perpetuated on the public by so-called 'Artists' who set themselves up on a pedestal." With that said, good work, I like reading your blog.

8:23 PM  
Jed said...

Yeah, yeah, fuck all that. Word up.

I'm not sure that anything either one of us said contradicts Mr. Crumb's statement, "anonymous". And I think Crumb's talking about "fine art" as a business in particular.

Gallery artists often like to pretend that what they're doing somehow falls outside the bounds of commerce, that art done for any other purpose is hopelessly compromised, when in fact, to be accepted, what they do has to cater to whatever academia has decided is "cosmopolitan" at the moment. So yeah, what "art" is, or isn't as far as it's defined by the fine art market place (and it IS defined by the market place, and not by some inherant objective quality it somehow posesses) , that's a scam. No doubt about it. It's as much a scam as Hollywood movies and professional sports.

But I wouldn't use this to dismiss EVERYTHING considered in-vogue by the self-proclaimed "art world" intelligencia. The good stuff can't help who does or doesn't embrace it. I don't believe Tom Wolfe's over-simplifed notion of modernism as a big giant conspiracy.

But art is too often viewed in terms of progress, as if it were a science. Each new twist on an old idea is considered a benchmark, and treated like a monument. And then when this tendency gets picked up by the world of commerce you get people spending millions of dollars on a urinal, which only serves to severely confuse and obliterate whatever value the idea attached to it might've had in the first place. Maybe it mattered and maybe it didn't , but once you've transformed it into luxury goods, who gives a shit anymore?

That's the problem. Once people think they can make a buck, they make their own rules about what has value and what doesn't, and that tends to effect public perception as well. "Yeah, it might not look pretty, but you wouldn't believe how much I paid for it".

And yes, we kind of got off on a tangent here, but I like the blog too, particularly hearing about Jame's process, and how he solves problems.

3:59 AM  
Shawn Escott said...

Good art is good art and these are fantastic. You should be doing portraits!!

7:02 AM  
Process Recess said...

Thanks for the insightful comments everyone! I hope the blog can inspire many conversations and musings, online and offline.

12:43 AM  
M. Patrizio said...

I have the same painting of the male model, only mine is much, much better ;) and it has your head it in! I should scan it and show you!

12:07 PM  
Process Recess said...

hey M. - I'd love to see it - it'll bring back tearful memories.

10:34 PM  
Lepers and Crooks said...

I'm finishing up school at Pratt, I think I've had that baldish guy as a model. Those models get around.

12:02 PM  

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