Todd James - Yo Ho Ho
Todd James - Damage Incorporated
‘BLOOD & TREASURE’
at Lazarides Gallery London - 29 August – 28 September 2008
Lazarides Gallery Greek Street is delighted to present an exhibition of new work by Todd James, a.k.a. REAS. Blood & Treasure features a series of over twenty new paintings, as well as a never-before-seen animated video.
Protest images marked out in cartoon outrage, filled with recycled advertising cast-offs and corrupted child scrawls, these large-scale works of gouache and graphite smash the distance between death and jokes and between the viewer and what he or she probably goes around trying not to know about the present state of things.
But this subject matter—grinning aircraft carriers, lounging blondes, sneaky missiles, beleaguered tanks, and skulls wearing sailor suits— most certainly has a direct connection to reality. Because no matter how fantastical or cartoony the imagery gets, it still presents an array of problems that have no immediate solution. James evokes a comic book sense of horror at the modern world and pity for those that live in it, while his ink-black warplanes and battleships have a chunky authority that embed themselves permanently in the mind of the viewer. Stealth bombers jack-off over cities, cheered on by bikini models jostling for space with partying warships, creating a feverish mix of complex mayhem that’s fully apparent in paintings such as ‘Damage Incorporated’, above right, or ‘Yo Ho Ho’, above left.
These works are psychologically and literally unstoppable, in the sense that the situations they depict are in full swing and degenerating by the moment. They are absurd yet strike a chord of realism. Blood & Treasure is a profound exhibition about the bizarre hybrid of war, commerce, and popular culture that the western world is trying to pass off as democracy, and with it James lays that canard to waste.
Todd James (a.k.a. REAS) is an internationally recognized artist who began his career as a child in the New York City subway system, and who remains one of graffiti’s best-known elder statesmen to this day. He was a co-creator of the seminal Street Market exhibition at Deitch Projects in New York, which was selected for the Venice Biennale in 2001. James’ work has also been shown at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, the Tate Museum in Liverpool, the Parco gallery in Tokyo, and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, amongst other venues. Todd James lives and works in New York City.