V1 Gallery is pleased to present:

A solo exhibition by Todd James


With ROOM TO BREATHE, James debuts a newly emerging style that he first began to experiment with in 2018. Loosely rendered compositions in oil stick and oil paint on unprimed linen, these painting take James away from flat shapes and solid color forms to embrace texture and a deliberately rough line, heavy with human intent.

Within these works the unprimed linen creates an earthy base that peeks through to the surface of the painting, making it through the crowded energetic field of oil paint into view, to ground these paintings both visually and psychologically. For James, this style is as equally about the drawing and line work as it is about the paint stroke itself, creating a hybrid of both methods.

These paintings offer the viewer a tour through varied and vivid old world interiors, rendered in rich, deeply saturated jewel tones and populated with familiar James iconography such as piles of chairs, pots and pans, and lush foliage. These are largely unpopulated or solitary spaces, meditative and often painted in an intimate scale. They exude a certain calm, as there is comfort to be taken in their scenes of humanity: lived-in rooms crowded with furniture and objects, filled with coffee cups and other remains of camaraderie, their analog vibration and airy compositions offering respite to the viewer through these affectionate domestic touchstones.

Rounding out the works on view are small portraits of snipers in Ghillie suits. James’ work rarely fails to address themes of war and warfare, and the elephant in the room that is the American Empire. His sniper series perhaps suggests that stealth is necessary for success in the external world, and also reminds us that while camouflage may be nature’s tool for self-preservation, there is not a lot of room to breathe inside the armor of one’s deception.

Todd James (b. New York 1969, USA) is a celebrated New York artist from the generation following Jean-Michel Basquiat, Rammellzee, and Kenny Scharf.  A style leader in multiple mediums over a period of decades, James’s work has been recognized since his teenage years writing the moniker REAS. Within the context of street pop, James has collaborated with artists such as Kaws, Barry McGee, and ESPO aka Steve Powers, as well as creating commercial works in collaboration with the Beastie Boys, Iggy Pop, Eminem, Pharrell Williams and other cultural icons. James, along with Barry McGee and ESPO, is a co-creator of Street Market, a major work of the post-graffiti movement that debuted at Deitch Projects in New York City in 2000. Street Market was subsequently shown at the US Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2001, and later traveled as far as the Parco Museum in Tokyo. A re-creation of Street Market was the central installation of the LA MOCA’s record breaking Art in the Street exhibition a decade later. In 2015, James’ work was chosen for the Venice Biennale. In "The Bridges Of Graffiti," one of the 2015 Biennale’s official exhibitions, James’ work Vandal’s Bedroom was exhibited to great acclaim, and the installation subsequently traveled to New York, London, Madrid, Copenhagen and Los Angeles.  James continues to receive increasing international attention, in recent years emerging as one of the leading artists to take part in “Beyond the Streets,” a traveling exhibition which embodies the rising global momentum of art that emerged outside the traditional institutions of art, currently on view at Saatchi Gallery in London. ROOM TO BREATHE is Todd James seventh exhibition with the V1 Gallery / Eighteen family.