Edifice Artifice. Fabric resin wood acrylic. 72×192 inches Installation at the University of La Verne. 2018. Photo-Credit-Dion-Johnson

Composed in three-parts, Edifice Artifice proves that James is a visual virtuoso who seamlessly integrates distinct and contrasting materials – ranging from the industrial strength of poured concrete and wooden planks to the domestic design of crushed velvet and Ikea furniture. Viewers are first greeted by a gold velvet square hung at the second story level of the 34-foot-high wall. The center piece is a large scale white trapezoid-shaped frame that displays a dense selection of vertically hung fabrics, many of which are embellished with painting and drawing media. Nearby, a tall piece of purple velvet hangs from a single point and descends into a concrete block set atop an Ikea end table. This grand assembly of color, material and structure alludes to a narrative about the expansive Southern California housing market, where a flashy townhouse facade may fail to provide a stable dwelling.

Edifice Artifice. Fabric resin wood acrylic. 72×192 inches Installation at the University of La-Verne. 2018. Photo-Credit-Dion-Johnson.

“Edifice Artifice is a somewhat linear narrative of my last ten years of art making using the language of materials. In the past I used the materials with the belief I was making Art, and in hindsight, I realize the Art was the investigation of these materials and how closely they paralleled my own personal narrative. The materials alternate between the opaque satin I used to carefully choreograph the application of acrylic, tar, resin and rubber to the porous lace I used to randomly capture the flow of color.  Each piece of hanging textile is sharply encapsulated within a narrowing frame to form a semiotic link that connects the material explorations of the past with the edification of present experiments.  The materials are the representation of my own obsession with their ability to be reckless signifiers of race, class and gender.  This work maintains a regular pattern of hard crammed edges and soft folded curves.  The use of concrete and velvet are connected to the recent shift with in my practice to visually articulate the juxtapositions between tactile experience and psychological states. Edifice Artifice is a visual manifestation of the presence of constructs of sureness, truth and stability.  It articulates the presence of both rigidity and fluidity as harmonious partners, equally valid and necessary.”  Cole James

Author: Dion Johnson

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