Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mac James

I apologize for Alec's brazen disrespect for writing conventions.
click image to enlarge
Hot dog, evidently I am a fan of artists with the initials M.J. Mac James is an Hawaiian artist working out of Kauai. He's heavily influenced by the ecology of Kauai and "Conveying nature in a contemporary sense." His Artist Statement largely discusses his concern for the environment and its continued neglect.

In the past, I haven't been that interested in observational nature art, but Mac's work is quite different. His paintings and drawings fluctuate in the balance of expression and realism, and though it might only be because of my own ignorance, it seems like artist that do a lot of nature paintings focus too strongly on replicating what nature looks like, or deviate so far in their abstraction that I can hardly make the connection between the art and the inspiration. Looking through his portfolio, I've developed the sense that James' process is largely casual and natural. The construction of some of his paintings give me the impression that he may have started with a basic concept and added elements until he was satisfied. I really like this because I look at a lot of graphic design stuff, and everything is very calculated and you get a sense for how many drafts and how much planning goes into any given piece. As you can imagine, it is refreshing to me to look at stuff that feels loose and improvised, but still visually recognizable.

Beside the clear influence of ecology on his work, Hawaiian culture and folklore emerges in many of his paintings. I think his reverence towards nature and native culture is apparent in the content and style of his works, and that seriously adds to their meaning as much as their appearance. Notably, many of his paintings use only one color, or just a few. I think this speaks well towards his ability, given my often professed love of color. In lieu of extravagant interplays of color, James makes a lot of really heavy, moody paintings in a variety of styles. That being said, I prefer his paintings where color is used, but is more of a secondary thing.

Something I really appreciate about his online portfolio is that there are hi-res versions of most of his paintings and sketches, and a lot of them are presented with backstories, so give it a look-see. Here's a sample of his collage work, which he ceased around 2004, sadly.

Dig it? Glad. One for the road? I think so.



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