Dana James' moonlit paintings are akin to a nightlight discovering its way through caliginous explosions and fractured, multi-panel constructions. Energetic bursts of colour grow up from the ground, evoking windblown nature, roaring oceans or the stillness of a manmade swimming pool. The shifting light of iridescent paint, a material quintessential to James' work, resembles the transient flashes of colour experienced upon falling asleep, or a sweeping landscape briefly illuminated by the headlights of a moving car.Read More
Through the assemblage of both new and recycled pieces of canvas, each painting wears its own process-based history. Used, dirty canvas is bifurcated by bright, garish colour creating a surface that speaks to the evolution of time and temporality. The contradictory nature of James' paint handling calls our visual memory, and the way in which it serves us, into question. James deliberately places contrasting materials and processes next to one another through the act of pouring paint, creating multi-dimensional layers of wax, throwing loose pigment, and mark making. The pieces are then constructed into asymmetrical panels, breaking out of traditional square and rectangular painting modules, and initiating an active dissonance and harmony. At once dark and feminine, James' paintings are dreamily immersive in warm and colourful beauty, but we are actively looking over our shoulder for dark detonations.
James states 'My paintings act as panorama of linear time; they serve as a reminder that we are small and predictable creatures, incessantly creating and shedding beautiful accounts of the earth and its elements. Upon completion, they are visual diaries that speak to contradiction, a latency caromed by intermittent activity.'
Dana James (b. 1986) is a painter and New York native now residing in Bushwick, Brooklyn. She creates works with an exquisite sense of touch, incorporating multiple mediums and textures by the process of pouring and mark making. Her iridescent markings relate to scarring, but at the same time these flickering surfaces evoke the play of moonlight or the filament of a dragonfly's wing, transient images that are symbols of change. James's work explores beautiful, captivating dualities—transience and permanence, geometric and amorphous, dirty and clean, light and dark, the contradictions of femininity, and the dichotomies of human experience. She draws on wide ranging themes all the while referencing the great American tradition of Colour Field Painting, creating a fresh language all her own.
Since graduating from the School of Visual Arts in 2008, James's work has been exhibited extensively and can be found in multiple private and public collections in New York City and beyond. Recent solo and two person shows include Otherwise All Was Silent (Bode Projects, Berlin, 2020); The Thread, Dana James and Lizbeth Mitty (David & Schweitzer Contemporary, Brooklyn NY, 2019) and Sometimes Seen Dreams (The Lodge Gallery, Lower East Side, NY, 2017). James has also been featured in numerous group exhibitions throughout the U.S. including Contemporary Women Paint: Abstract Expressions (Des Moines, IA, 2020), Sound & Color (SugarLift with the High Line Nine, Chelsea, NY, 2020) Look Again, Hollis Taggart Contemporary, Westport, CT, 2020), Refract Mere (Marquee Projects, Bellport, LI, 2020) and Taggart Times 7, (Hollis Taggart Contemporary, Chelsea, NY, 2020). James was recently listed in Top 20 Artists Shaping the New Decade by Daily Collector. Sometimes Seen Dreams was featured in the Art Critical Review Panel, and her two-person show The Thread was chosen as must see exhibitions by New York Magazine. She has also been featured in publications such as Two Coats of Paint, ArtSpace and Hyperallergic.
Text courtesy Hollis Taggart.