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  • Catalogue Essay

    “Todd James is a guy who has always marched to the beat to his own drum. He has just always created this like super interesting paintings and drawings, you know. He brings you into his own world.” ——  Pharrell Williams

    Regarded by many as the quintessential American street artist, Todd James began his career painting in the subway system of New York under the name REAS. James has since achieved enormous commercial success as a designer and illustrator, working extensively with hip-hop musicians such as Pharrell Williams, Eminem, Iggy Pop, and the Beastie Boys. James’ images are often gleefully crude, delighting in the raunchy and the violent, resulting in arresting works which are utterly unapologetic. 

     

    The sprawling composition of flat lines and blocks of colour recall the later works of Henri Matisse, while James’ vivid palette and array of pop-culture references evoke the surrealism of Peter Saul. Through the mixture of new and old, graffiti and abstract, James proffers a landscape of infinite interpretative possibilities to be explored and discovered. Indeed, James’ career has seamlessly bridged the gap between the worlds of graffiti, commercial art, and fine art. The explosion of graphics, brimming with images taken from news and media, synthesises fantasy, sex, and comics, resulting in an absurd intermingling of slapstick cartoons - a truly American homage. Though James maintains that his work is not meant to be critical, recurrent motifs such as nude females, tanks, and anthropomorphic fighter planes, allude to the darker underbelly of contemporary society. 

     

    The current work exhibited at Hong Kong, AISHONANZUKA, Afternoon Delight, 12 September - 11 October 2014

    Illustrating the character “Tit Wizard”, a motif reappearing throughout the artist's oeuvre, the current work, Chicken Fingers, was featured in James’ 2014 solo exhibition at AISHONANZUKA in Hong Kong. The voluptuous set of breasts resting under an erect wizard hat, coupled with a set of goofy eyes which gaze questioningly at the viewer, suggest some magical rearranging of the female anatomy for public consumption. The assortment of circles and triangles reduces the figure into quasi-abstraction. Yet, seemingly in defiance, the spindly chicken leg raises a middle finger, a clear marker of James’ dark humour. 

     

    James is the co-creator of Street Market, a major work of the post-graffiti movement that debuted at the Philadelphia ICA in 1999 and was expanded at Deitch Projects in New York in 2000. A re-creation of this work was the central installation of the LA MOCA’s record-breaking Art in the Streets exhibition a decade later.

     

    Street Market by Barry McGee, Steve Powers and Todd James, exhibited at Art in the Streets, MOCA Los Angeles, 2011

    Most recently, Todd James has had solo exhibitions at Javier Lopez & Fer Frances Gallery, Madrid in 2020, and another at Ross + Kramer Gallery, New York, March 2021. James’ paintings and installations have been exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide, including both the 2001 and 2015 Venice Biennale. In addition, he has been exhibited at the Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts, San Francisco, CA, USA; The Institute of Contemporary Arts, Philadelphia, PA, USA; The Geffen Contemporary, MOCA, Los Angeles, CA, USA; and Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY, USA. His work is held in a number of important private and public collections including the MIMA MUSEUM Brussels, Belgium. James currently lives and works in New York, and is represented by AISHONANZUKA.

     

    The Artist and Tit Wizard 
    • Condition Report

    • Provenance

      AISHONANZUKA, Hong Kong
      Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2017

    • Exhibited

      Hong Kong, AISHONANZUKA, Afternoon Delight, 12 September - 11 October 2014

8

Chicken Fingers

signed 'TODD JAMES' lower right; further signed and dated 'TODD JAMES 2014' on the reverse
oil on canvas
76.4 x 61.5 cm. (30 1/8 x 24 1/4 in.)
Painted in 2014.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
HK$80,000 - 100,000 
€8,700-10,900
$10,300-12,800

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Contact Specialist

Hin Hin Wong
Associate Specialist, 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Hong Kong
+852 2318 2013
[email protected]

24/7: Online Auction

Online Auction 21 - 30 July 2021