Last Friday was the opening of Fantasy Island New York-based artist Todd James’ newest solo show at Lazarides Rathbone in London.
The exhibition, consisting of a series of large-scale vivid hyper-coloured canvases spread around the luminous gallery space, intends to extend the artist’s ongoing exploration into current sociopolitical affairs, stretching the boundary between the obscene and the humorous.
Drawing his inspiration from pop culture and American expressionist painters such as Willem de Kooning, Todd James, often called “master of modern-day satire” seems to strip down his characters to a cartoon level showing them in absurd and meaningful situations as a witty comment to todays society and reality.
From the press release:
“The large-scale paintings depict a fantastical reality far removed from the safety of Western existence, seducing the viewer with a seamless mix of luminous compositions and graffiti-infused erotica. The satirical showcase features a striking cast of modern-day Somali pirates, UN soldiers and scantily-clad females, adorned with AK47s and over-sized sunglasses whilst basking against tropical backdrops of never-ending sunsets. James illuminates contradictions in our contemporary landscape with playful scenes loaded in metaphor; armed soldiers balancing cups of tea in armchairs and sexualised women brandishing heavy weaponry. The duality of the work is key to the American artist’s long-term practice, carefully balancing stylised animations against the stark reality of the times we live in. Fantasy Island develops themes first displayed in World Domination, the artist’s widely-acclaimed solo exhibition at Lazarides in 2013. Both showcases share themes of survival, ingenuity and ownership, questioning political motives firmly embedded in the present and raising an unashamed spotlight over them. Alongside the main gallery presentation James is set to transform a vintage Chevrolet van positioned outside the gallery doors, expanding on childhood references first curated in his Vandal’s Bedroom, installed at LA’s MOCA and re-constructed during World Domination. The artist’s manifestation of personal spaces draws on fantasy art influences from the analogue age of his youth, comprised of a customised cluster of all-American 1970’s ephemera. The Fantasy Island Chevy will play host to the exclusive launch of James’ most recent self-released book. The new publication, entitled Beyond The Gates, features a myriad of heavy metal-inspired swords and sorcery girls in a haze of fluid lines and sensual scenes.”
The exhibition will run until May 28th at the gallery located on 11 Rathbone Place, London, W1T 1HR. Certainly a must see.
Founder and editor of Urbanite. Street Art lover who after the finishing her MA thesis on the muralist movement in the 1920-50s, developed a fascination for street art and graffiti that eventually led to collaborations with different art blogs, including the creation of this one.