NANZUKA is pleased to present “Soldier Of Fortune” a solo exhibition of new works by American artist Todd James at NANZUKA UNDERGROUND.
This exhibition marks the artist’s fourth solo presentation at the gallery, his first since his last show in Tokyo four years ago.
Todd James is a celebrated New York artist from the generation following Jean-Michel Basquiat, Rammellzee, Lee Quinones and Kenny Scharf. A style leader in multiple mediums over a period of decades, James’s work has been recognized since his teenage years. Within the context of street pop, James has collaborated with artists such as Kaws, Barry Mcgee, and Espo (Stephen Powers), as well as creating commercial works in collaboration with Beastie Boys, Iggy Pop, Eminem, Pharrell Williams and other cultural icons who have helped to the tremendous popularity of his work. James, along with Barry Mcgee and Espo, is a co-creator of Street Market, a major work of the post-graffiti movement that debuted at Deitch Projects in New York City in 2000.
The Street Market installation depicted an entire New York City block, including a fully stocked bodega and a car service. The clamoring urban signage and graffiti was on a massive, real life scale. Street Market was shown at the US Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2001, and later traveled as far as the Parco Museum in Tokyo, giving rise to a worldwide sensation. A re-creation of Street Market was the central installation of the LA MOCA’s record breaking Art in the Street exhibition a decade later in 2011. In “The Bridges Of Graffiti,” one of the official exhibitions of the 2015 Venice Biennale, James’s work Vandal’s Bedroom was exhibited to great acclaim. James continues to receive increasing international attention, in recent years gaining much respect as one of the leading artists to take part in “Beyond the Streets,” a traveling special exhibition which embodies the rising global momentum of street art, which is making its way to London in 2023, where Vandal’s Bedroom will be on view.
James’works are characterized by his use of innocent lines and forms along with colorfully animated characters reminiscent of the drawings of children. While his works appear to convey a sense of familiarity on their surface, they indeed permeate with a tongue-in-cheek spirit of criticism towards the underside of contemporary society. A tank smoking a cigarette, a naked female figure with a machinegun and skeleton, anthropomorphic fighter planes playfully roaming about like innocent children, a woman in a bathing suit playing in a pool of blood, are all motifs that appear repeatedly throughout James’ work. Nevertheless, the artist bears no intention for his works to be interpreted as being specifically political. Instead, they are an assemblage of his everyday visual experiences and is a culmination of his free imagination born from them.
This exhibition “Soldier of Fortune” will be centered around a new bronze sculpture titled “Pentagon Pile Up.” This work, which is James’ first large-scale sculptural work, integrates jet fighters and tanks (armored fighting vehicles) that have lost their combat function. The war machines have melted and fused together in a last gasp hoping to fight another day. Deflated and exhausted, put out and squished like a Claus Oldenburg cigarette. This tank totem pole pile up is a warning In a somewhat ironical manner these cartoon appear to be a metaphoric representation of ourselves. Born out of years of pumped up media war porn and serves as a cartoon critique of the military industrial complex. The exhibition also showcases paintings depicting such tanks and military themes. Psychedelic snipers in neon camouflage scout out on the frontier of reality with a return to spray paint on canvas celebrating old mediums in a new context, as well as a selection of the artist’s new drawing works. In addition, a limited-edition miniature work of “Pentagon Pile Up” will be available for purchase at NANZUKA Online Store.
An opening reception with the artist will be held on February 11 (Sat.) from 15:00 to 18:00.
We look forward to welcoming you to the exhibition.
3 Chome-30-10 Jingumae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan