Janell James

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.  Incidentally, 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 the many layers ads to the sculptural interpretation while also creating ‘living’ paintings that appear kinetic, interacting with the natural environment. The purpose of the layering of a transparent painting surface is to raise the stakes; the points of depth are deeper and the points of flatness are flatter. The increased depth and complication of flipping the surface back and forth and layering it multiple times is a demonstration of the mastery of the material as well as a device to push the boundaries of the flatness/depth dichotomy in every painting. My paintings are at once paintings and sculptures and they are at once landscapes and quite the opposite of that—something acrylic and manufactured that is more reflective of contemporary culture.