Contemporary artist and New York-native Todd James has enjoyed a textured art career, not dissimilar to that of many of today’s most admired artist, but wholly unique in its own rights. Before embarking on international exhibitions, Todd James began in the streets of NY writing graffiti under the moniker REAS. As an early presence in the local hip hop culture, Todd ended up designing the Beastie Boys’ Brooklyn Dust Elephant logo in 1987 and that same year, the logo for The Source magazine. He’d later go on to develop the logos for Mobb Deep, Red Man, Eminem and Kid Rock and hold the chair as puppet designer for the classic Comedy Central show, Crank Yankers.
With a clever mash up of politics, humor and everyday images that exist in and plague daily life James has created a parallel world where the obscene is normal and the normal is obscene.
Fast forward some years and the still New York-based artist has a new solo exhibition opening this month in Hong Kong – after having recently displayed work in London, Copenhagen and Madrid. Stepping a bit further towards abstraction, he incorporates bubbled characters and bright colors of the 1980s and ’90s graffiti eras into conceptual works that have no definitive beginning, middle or end. The new show, dubbed Stay Golden, is comprised of work that exists as shapes, tentacles and other forms of creative extension created by James to be enjoyed.
The central theme of this new series of work revolves around the contradiction between the familiarity and what’s beneath the surface. A tank smoking a cigarette, a naked woman with a machine gun and a skeleton, anthropomorphic fighter planes frolicking about innocently, a woman in a bathing suit playing in a pool of blood; motifs such as this are what currently appear throughout James’ most recent works. With a clever mash up of politics, humor and the everyday images that exist in and plague daily life – mass media, wars, riots, reality TV – he has created a parallel world where the obscene is normal and the normal is obscene. Todd James’ Stay Golden is on view at Aishonanuzuka Gallery beginning Nov 11, 2016 through Dec 24, 2016.
Stay Golden by Todd James
Aishonanuzuka Gallery, Hong Kong
13A, REGENCY CENTER phase1, 39 Wong Chuk Hang Rd, Hong Kong