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Todd James @ Over The Influence, LA

Words:

Edd Norval

Photos:

Flying Studio
September 10, 2019

Over The Influence is one of Los Angeles' most exciting art spaces and is currently exhibiting East Coast icon Todd James' meditative and surreal show There's No Place Like Home.

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From September 8 to October 27, No Place Like Home calls Over The Influence home in a colourful, surreal and personal collection of paintings meditating on the notion of what defines our home and the relationship such a 'home' has to our own individual psyche.


The exhibition features interiors that are partly dreamlike, yet with enough relatable features as to be able to be any of ours. They're places we've never been to, yet familiarity pierces through the canvas like a photograph that we recognise without being able to precisely recall how.


On the show, OTI have said, "These rooms call to mind intense adolescent years, and give a nod to all the oddballs, outcasts, junior criminals, nerds, punks, and otherwise socially incapable individuals whose bedrooms become shrines to the cultural artefacts that make teenage life worth living."

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It continued it description, "Pubescent touchstones abound in dense compositional fields: Fantasy art, pornography, Dungeons & Dragons manuals, comics, and magazine covers all harken back to a time when all we seemed able to control was what we thumbtacked and taped to our walls.


The paintings transport viewers to idealized black-lit basement bedrooms, pulsing with humanity fully expressed. They also share a strong visual kinship with James’s celebrated Vandal’s Bedroom installation, which was a selection of the 2015 Venice Biennale and continues to be exhibited worldwide. Finally, this body of work represents the ultimate “safe space,” a “room of one’s own” we all possess within our consciousnesses that may provide respite from the troubling realities of the larger world. With these works, James offers viewers symbolic protection from the instability of the current geo-political landscape.


Rounding out these psychologically intense interiors are some of James’s iconic portraits of women, caught in candid moments, vibrating with a typically free and careless femininity. James’s women don’t bother with artifice; they are perfect in their natural state, whatever that state may be."

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James cut his teeth on a very different artistic path, being one of the early figureheads on the New York graffiti scene, particularly well-known for his work on the subway system. Since then, James has continued to pioneer, falling into a 'post-graffiti' style of work which drew upon the influences that came before, but morphed them into something stylistically new - a predecessor to what is now known by the umbrella statement of 'street art'.


It is here, on the periphery of movements, of times and of ideas, that There's No Place Like Home becomes the kind of show that can't help but interest and draw an audience in. You're not only being welcomed to look at James' world, his memories and his works, but to reflect upon your own lives and to consider what it is that makes you feel most at home too.

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