Todd James at Lazarides
New York raised and based, Todd James a.k.a. REAS, is presenting his new works at London’s Lazarides Gallery in an exhibition entitled Fantasy Island. Following in the path of his previous practice, James depicts a fantastical reality of expressive colors, cartoon-like drawing and weaponry all in one, seducing the viewer with a seamless mix of luminous compositions and graffiti-infused erotica. James is an internationally recognized artist, and although he began the artistic career as a graffiti artist, painting has been his major activity since 2007. His work continues to span the fields of fine and commercial art, with forays into costume design, large-scale installation and work within the music, fashion and TV industry.
The Fantasy Island of Todd James
In Fantasy Island the vivid body of hyper-colored works extends the artist’s exploration into current socio-political affairs, continuing to stretch the boundary between the obscene and the humorous. His large-scale works of gouache and graphite smash the distance between the viewer and what he or she probably goes around trying not to know about the present state of things. The satirical showcase features a striking cast of modern-day Somali pirates, UN soldiers and scantily-clad females, adorned with AK47s and over-sized sunglasses whilst basking against tropical backdrops of never-ending sunsets. James illuminates contradictions in our contemporary landscape with playful scenes loaded in metaphor – armed soldiers balancing cups of tea in armchairs and sexualized women brandishing heavy weaponry. The duality of the work is key to artist’s long-term practice, carefully balancing stylized animations against the stark reality of the times we live in.
Politically charged Pop Art: The Painting of Todd James
Fantasy Island develops themes first displayed in World Domination, the artist’s widely-acclaimed solo exhibition at Lazarides in 2013. Both showcases share themes of survival, ingenuity and ownership, questioning political motives firmly embedded in the present and raising an unashamed spotlight over them. His politically-charged subject matter evokes a comic book sense of horror at the modern world and endless stream of media we find ourselves surrounded by. Merging a pastel paradise of acrylic, oil, graphite and gouache with reoccurring motifs of grinning aircraft carriers, lounging blondes, sneaky missiles, beleaguered tanks, and men at war his paintings are psychologically and literally unstoppable. The situations they depict are in full swing and degenerating by the moment, and are deeply connected to the reality of our world today.
Fantasy Island at Lazarides
Alongside the main gallery presentation at Lazarides James is set to transform a vintage Chevrolet van positioned outside the gallery doors, expanding on childhood references first curated in his Vandal’s Bedroom, installed at LA’s MOCA and re-constructed during Lazarides’ World Domination in 2013. The Fantasy Island Chevy will play host to the exclusive launch of James’ most recent self-released book. The new publication, entitled Beyond The Gates, features a myriad of heavy metal-inspired swords and sorcery girls in a haze of fluid lines and sensual scenes.
Fantasy Island in Lazarides Gallery is open from 1st May till 28th May 2015.
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Featured Image – Todd James, Fantasy Island, piece from the exhibition
All images courtesy of Lazarides Gallery, London.