Todd James’ current exhibition was recently reviewed in NOW Magaine.
“Viewers averting their eyes from Miley Cyrus’s tongue at the VMAs would have found her entourage of dancing bears more enjoyable. These were the brainchild of artist Todd James, who’s having his first Canadian solo show of paintings at Cooper Cole.
James, who began his career as a New York City graffiti prodigy named REAS, has collaborated with Eminem and Mobb Deep and done extensive work in production, film and animation. He is also an internationally recognized fine artist.
His ironic street sensibility is in no way dulled in this funny, fierce show of nudes that makes contemporary no-brow culture look nearly refined. James is obviously having fun – lots of it.
It’s a huge and colourful show, and funny as hell. The well-worn bourgeois aesthetics of Picasso and Matisse are weaponized into Tom Wesselmann-flavoured japes: big naked blonds lounging about, surrounded by cats and toting automatic weapons.
Once your laughter subsides, you appreciate James’s immense skill. He almost paints staid knockoffs of respectable modernism, but the palette is a too club-kid neon and there are too many touches of white-trash sass. One woman sports striped 70s tube socks, à la classic centrefold, while hoisting a joint. The cats, looking glum and neurotic, are pure comedy. It’s a little too much for an investment banker’s foyer.
The mashup of genres would be disorienting were they not so seamlessly unified. James parodies his styles with a lightness that betrays a deep immersion in their history: his visual language is as fluent as it is offhand. Like the rappers he’s worked with, his crude, comic patois is a breezy front for a profound, almost reverent literacy.
Pulling off a genre joke this blunt and sophisticated takes both balls and finesse. At the start of a grey Toronto winter, James’s high-octane nudes are an invigorating blast of heat.”
To see the full review please visit NOW Magazine.
For more information about Todd James please contact the gallery: