Janell James

A video of her working in her gallery

Our artist Janell James has been featured, read on ….
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My paintings are an investigation of the intersection of traditional landscape imagery and modern ideas about painting and color. In my practice, I attempt to reconcile my personal history as an art-maker, as well as the tradition of landscape painting, with a contemporary art practice that borrows more specifically from a language of Modernism—specifically in regards to mid-century conversations about painting. Both genres at work in my practice (abstraction and landscape) have a tradition of exploring ideas about the Sublime—Romantic and Modern—respectively.

While my subject matter draws heavily from landscape, my process and true exploration is about painting in a Modern sense. My brush strokes become objects that hold their own presence. The colors and layering I use both create the illusion of space and undermine it in the proverbial push-pull of abstract painting. The interplay between light and shadows cast upon many layers leads to a sculptural interpretation while also creating ‘living’ paintings that appear kinetic, interacting with the natural environment.

Through the deconstruction of very traditional ways of oil painting, I have found a way to take what is old and make it into something new: by painting and then layering on a modern surface, sculpting, as it were, the landscape from back to front. Working with the actual layers to increase depth within the work allows the work to become a kinetic, ‘living’ work of art, where shadows are cast upon layers and light illuminates the space within, bringing it to life. Reinventing the way in which landscape is painted and seen traditionally makes this work singular and inventive. Painting on both sides of five layers of acrylic glass creates an intricate puzzle that is 3-dimensional, sculptural, and kinetic.