V1 Gallery is proud to present Free To Be You & Me a solo exhibition by Todd James.
Luminous colored Somali pirates, smoking cigarettes as the sun sets, drinking tea, making hostage demands on satellite phones, brandishing AK 47’s and rocket propelled grenades populate Todd James new body of work. The crisp oil paintings have an alluring innocence at first glance. Under the seductive colors and smooth compositions a darker truth lurks. These are modern pirates – savage entrepreneurs. Their bounty is cash for humans and materiel. Parasites on a system and ideology, that inadvertently was part of their creation. Time and time again they jam an AK 47 into the wheels of the global economy and flow of goods, reminding us that the world is not equal for all and that humans will go to great lengths to secure riches. The duality of the work is typical for Todd James, not passing judgment, rather illuminating contradictions in contemporary society. His work is informed by the images we know from the constant stream of media we are swimming in. He distills these images, giving the viewer a chance for brief contemplation, in a time that rarely offers that.
The second part of Free To Be You & Me is a recreation of the Vandal’s Bedroom – a large-scale installation – that premiered at the Art In The Streets exhibition at the MOCA in Los Angeles. The changing installation, mimics a teenage graffiti vandals bedroom and working headquarter, with hundreds of rough sketches pinned roughly to the walls, pop culture references, slogans, appropriated cartoon characters and art supplies. The piece is an homage to the environment Todd James grew up with and in part informed his later practice.
According to Todd James, both vandals and pirates step over invisible boundaries put in place by faceless power structures every day. Both also anonymously make claims (to space or to cargo), their deeds forcing society to confront the undeniable complexity of right and wrong. The exhibition and title poetically questions the inherent dilemmas of freedom in our world.
Todd James (born in New York, 1969, lives and works in New York) has exhibited extensively around the world. He has been an integral part of the genre expanding and defining exhibitions: Street Market, Beautiful Losers and Art In The Streets. He has recently exhibited at Nazuka Underground in Tokyo, Gering & López Gallery in New York and the MOCA museum in Los Angeles. A new book on his work Yield To Temptation has just been published on the occasion of his latest solo exhibition in Tokyo. Free To Be You & Me is Todd James second solo exhibition with V1 Gallery.