Staying Ahead of the Beast

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Posted Hopi Forest, 1986 Acrylic & Mixed Media On Board 75 X 58.5 Inches © Courtesy of the artist and Zane Bennett Contemporary Art
Staying Ahead of the Beast

435 S Guadalupe
Santa Fe, NM 87501
June 29th, 2012 - July 20th, 2012
Opening: June 29th, 2012 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Guadalupe, Railyard
Tue-Sat 10-5 or by appointment.
archival boxes, mixed-media, sculpture


Zane Bennett Contemporary Art is pleased to announce the exhibition of James Havard, Staying Ahead of the Beast. The exhibition spans forty years of painting with an emphasis on his “Abstract Illusionist” era, featuring paintings, archival boxes, and sculptures dating from the late 1970’s to 2012.

The show opens on Friday, June 29, 2012 and will continue through Friday, July 20, 2012.

James Havard will be in attendance, celebrating his 75th birthday on the night of the opening. The opening reception will be held on Friday, June 29th at the gallery, 435 South Guadalupe Street, across from the rail station, from 5:00‐7:00 pm to coincide with the Railyard Arts District Last Friday Art Walk.


James Havard, renowned painter and sculptor, continues to explore the primitive impulses of what French artist Jean Dubuffet identified as “Art Brut”. This sense of primitivism contrasts with formulaic trends in the art world and breathes fresh energy and a raw power into Havard’s paintings. Today some would refer to this quality in work as Outsider Art, but Havard is far from being outside the hallow halls of the art world.

In the late 1970’s Louis K. Meisel , New York art dealer and collector, identified Havard as the leading light of the East Coast artistic movement, Abstract Illusionism. Havard’s paintings from this period, while abstract and expressionistic, create the illusion of three dimensional space by mimicking artificial light sources that cast shadows from strokes of paint. This form of illusion, quite different than a traditional Trompe‐l’oeil perspective that draws the viewer into an interior scene, makes objects pop out of the canvas space with a dimensionality that surprises and delights the eye.

Ten years later, in the early 1990’s, Havard redefines himself again with his archival boxes and the Art History and Public School series. One can see a connection with Joseph Cornell and his dioramas, yet Havard’s subject matter draws the viewer in with ancient symbols and figures of Pre‐Colombian and Native American cultures. Havard’s boxes are at once immediately profound and filled with mystery, as if one has uncovered secrets from a long lost world. The use of Native American imagery has always been a part of Havard’s paintings, as well as African symbols and figures. Having traveled extensively and collected objects starting from an early age, Havard has integrated his worldly impressions with a directness that is often seen as childlike and elemental.