Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Art Space Talk: Jonathan James

In his own words "The images selected for my galleries at Myartspace were chosen primarily based on the ability that these images have to capture and release their viewers. In so many ways you can become fully engaged in a section of the pieces leading on to newer more densely occupied areas and thrown simultaneously through the entire composition in a matter of moments. These fleeting moments grab the viewer intensely therein occupying the viewer in a macro and micro universe as you focus and un-focus throughout the piece. The leading lines and entrancing spirals cause that connection of interest that will either draw you so far into the composition or explode outward to you. Either way you are left with that feeling of intense energy that was used to create the work itself."

Invasion by Jonathan James

Brian Sherwin: Jonathan, do you have formal training in art? Where have you studied? Have any of your instructors influenced you?

Jonathan James: Yes, I started out going to Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland to see if it would work out, since then I recently transferred to the Academy in San Francisco, and it has really taken me a long distance in my work. One Instructor really stands out when I think of this question. Her name was Donna Hepner, real honest type woman who, if you show the initiative, she will show you the way. She basically exploded my creative mind, and now I'm trying to piece it all together in an intelligent way.

BS: Jonathan, when I view your work I get the impression that you are a painters painter... meaning that you seem very interested in the process of painting itself and the expressive qualities that you can capture through the marks and strokes that you make upon the surface. Is that so? Can you tell us about the motives behind your work?

JJ: Surface quality is just as important as the image itself. I really try to work the dimension of texture and give my pieces the chance to express themselves. This also gives the viewer the chance to follow the progression of the piece, we have that connection in a way at that moment of communication when we both know how it went down. Motivation is such an incredible word. When it comes down to it my entire lifetime has been a motivation to make art. Specifically, and more recently I have been interpreting my studies into world religion, ancient civilizations, and pre-1900's philosophy.

Seperation Anxiety by Jonathan James

BS: This is an age old question-- is a work of art ever truly finished? What are your thoughts? For example, when a piece leaves your studio do you ever wish that you could work back into it? Or do you view it as the end of one process and the start of a new one?

JJ: There are some points when you just know. It's like giving birth, when they are ready they let you know, and you let them fly into the world with everything they need for a beautiful life. Give them a fancy suit, a few phone numbers, and let them know they are always welcome to come home. I recognize this point in art making at that pivotal moment when you realize, by adding even the slightest more, you will only be selfishly taking away from the image. This process is never ending. The end of one piece is always the beginning of a new one, this is aside the fact that there are always 5 pieces being worked on at any given time. It's a cycle that I'm particularly glad I became a part of.
Neo-Ganeshism by Jonathan James

BS: Jonathan, religion and politics seem to mesh and clash... fight and scream within the context of contemporary society-- does your work convey this struggle? Are there any social implications to be found in your work?

JJ: Religion is a big issue for me. I find that the greatest human inspiration comes directly from religious and spiritual sources. Religion drives people, it forces them. For me, it is not so much organized religion that I find most curious, but more-so that common Source they all have. This force moves with me, through me. I can only be a part of it.
A funny example I have of religion meshing with politics is my take on Neo-Ganeshism. Ganesh is one Hindu God that takes the form of the elephant. I represented him as the typical American would. Here, Americans usually shy away from Religions other than our own, and this particular God is Distorted because of it. When the Benevolent Ganesh appears to an American, we simply view him as images like "Dumbo" or only catch a glimpse of a pink form when we are drunk.

BS: Tell us more about some of your influences. Are you influenced by any specific artists or art movements?

JJ: I can only give credit to all of those who came before me. I am influenced by everything that was, is, and is going to be.

Enlightenment by Jonathan James

BS: Would you like to select a specific painting and tell us about it?

JJ: Sure. "Enlightenment" is my most recent finished painting. I have been getting really interested in the connection of the Pineal Gland to the Universe as a whole. I recently stumbled onto the idea of the Pineal, and have since found all of these wild connections. First they say it is the pre cursor to the human eye, it has a lens and a retina. It is connected to the Sahasrara Chakra, and is located directly behind the "Third Eye" Chakra. Scientists say it takes 49 days, and the pineal spontaneously appears in the human fetus. Buddhists say the after death to reincarnation process takes 49 days. So on and so forth. Things like coincidence, and deja vu' to me just mean that the world is letting me know I am on the right track. After all of this intense information exchange with the world, I sat down to reflect on what I have encountered and began to work on Enlightenment.
I composed this piece into sacred geometry finding golden section ratios, and square root 3 rectangles broken down into the basic patterning structures like hexagons, triangles etc. With this base structure I formed the image of a fetus at 49 days. My rendition of the universe as a whole fills the head of the child, and it peers down into the green sphere I dubbed earth. The sequence of enlightenment goes from human to the moon, to the earth to the sun. All a sequence where the latter is dependent on the former. I painted this image using homemade ink which is the closest thing to honesty that I can find to make an image.

BS: Jonathan, can you tell us about your studio practice. For example, do you listen to a specific type of music or radio station while working? Do you work in silence? Do you read before working? Is coffee a must? What are the little things that you do before and while working?

JJ: Working in the studio is definitely not quiet time. To start out working I read a bit from a random book, set out a few artist books around, prepare my area and set out the supplies. Music is a must, but it depends on the mood of the day or what I am painting. Tribal music is nice, Native American, African, Indian etc...
While working there is usually alot going on around me. The city is moving, the roommates are living, all of this gets transferred into my work I'm sure. I get a little loud sometimes in the studio, not aggressive but more excitable. I can really let loose a bit from being so restrained outside with the people. I will start screaming a bit sing along with the music, jump around, who knows. It is good to know you are in the moment. Sometimes I will be stressing over this or that, and this 'loud time' usually helps remind me that I am here, this is now.

A Closer Look at Honesty by Jonathan James

BS: What are you working on at this time? Also, will you be exhibiting in 2008? Where can our viewers see your work in person?

JJ: Right now I'm working on this Pineal thing. It is sort of leaking into a disconnected conversation with the world around me. I have my coursework in the mix too, anatomy, color, sacred geometry golden section, and figure painting. This usually keeps me on my toes as well. It is almost ridiculous how much agony we go through just to make these images, but I can no longer help myself. It has to happen i suppose.
In 2008 I'm slacking on the exhibition. I recently put together a nice collection of my images to propose to galleries here in San Francisco while I am in school. I usually show in Maryland on my breaks though, so If anyone is in these areas I will keep you updated.
Maruad Probity by Jonathan James

BS: I noticed that you have an account on Myspace as well. In your opinion, how has the Internet and sites like and helped artists?

JJ: I think it really opens up the world of artists to fellow artists. At times I will pour through these sites to find work by contemporary artists and be so extremely amazed at the talent in either one. At the very least it is a way I find to see recent work going on in places I would otherwise be completely in the dark about.

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art?

JJ: My favorite color is yellow!
You can learn more about Jonathan James and his art by visiting the following and You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page--
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin


Anonymous said...

I came across Jonathan James' work on DeviantArt and I must say he put this Pineal stuff on my mind and I can't get it out.He's inpsired me and I'm yet to figure out how it's going to get itself out of me,perhaps it just needs to ferment a little longer in my head,but rest assured,something will release itself soon.
What an intense guy.
Thanks for the thoughts and words.

canvas paintings said...

What an inspiring article, really enjoyed reading it and will take a proper look at the art via the links supplied, thank you