Tilton Gallery is pleased to present Parallel Lives, a solo exhibition of paintings and drawings by James Jean. This is Jean's third one person show as a fine artist and his first at Tilton. A Reception for the artist will be on Wednesday, January 9th from 6 to 8 pm.
Renowned as an illustrator, comic book artist and fashion and jewelry designer, Jean has channeled much of his energy into his painting over the last several years. This new body of work is a fusion of personal and universal themes, realism and mythology.
Jean's work has been influenced by as diverse sources as Chinese scroll painting, Japanese woodblock prints, Northern Renaissance art and Durer etchings, and it evokes the worlds of M.C. Escher, Aubrey Beardsley and Hieronymous Bosch as well as psychedelic artists of the sixties. His work nevertheless is rooted firmly in a contemporary vision that brings to mind Lisa Yuskavage, Neo Rauch, Alexis Rockman and Takashi Murakami, among others. Allegory and realism combine to create an interior world rooted in the present.
The core of Jean's work lies in his obsessive, detailed linear pen and ink drawings that fill countless notebooks and inform virtually all his creative output. Jean's larger drawings suggest personal fairy tales that merge with decorative abstraction, whereas his paintings capture individual narrative moments and comment on contemporary life. Even in these, abstract drips of paint or grids of dots overlaid on the image draw the paintings back into an imaginary dream world where nothing is as stable as it appears. This duality is also emphasized in a few paintings that were created as diptychs, pairings of representational rectangular paintings with Wave tondos, more abstract, digitally produced images of crashing waves. The catalogue for Parallel Lives that accompanies this exhibition presents these pairings although each piece may be viewed as an individual work. As Jean states, "These images represent separate realities, but there is a relationship and tension between the images when they are paired together." It is this underlying tension within Jean's disparate, parallel worlds that is ultimately the work's creative impulse.
James Jean was born in Taiwan in 1979 and moved with his parents to New Jersey where he grew up. He received his B.F.A. from the School of Visual Arts in New York and has been living and working in Los Angeles since 2003. He has exhibited in group exhibitions since 2001. Jean has received numerous Eisner awards as Best Cover Artist, beginning in 2004 and was awarded the Bronze Lion at the 2008 Cannes Lions Festival, Cannes, France.