James Langston:
designed illusions

A Day in Black and White and all the tones in between.  Growing up and in college I remember seeing my first M.C. Escher poster.  The type you stared at, looked at sideways, then upside down all the while thinking wow.  Bought a couple of his posters, hung them in my dorm room and did the usual college stuff.  Years later I run into James Langston's work and think Escher all over again.  This time though I think how.  I often wonder how each artist sees this world we live in and interprets it through words on paper or with colors on canvas or forms in sculptures.  I think 90% of art is the initial concept and ideas, the truly gifted find ways to share it with the rest of us.  I think James Langston is a great example of this, his works mainly in simple monotone, but the subject matter a rainbow of complex thoughts.  When I look at James Langston's art, I don't notice the lack of color but become lost in a great ocean of ideas, and once again I'm left to utter the word wow!!!

Life is such an exciting adventure. A few months ago, I was trying to mentally prepare for retirement and WHAM!  An invitation came to show my art in Florence, Italy at the Biennale Internazionale Dell'Arte Contemporanea exhibition.  I had never heard of the event so I had some friends in Italy look into the event and on their advice, I entered.  What a great show, 520 artists from 32 different countries were there.  To make matters better, one of my works was shown in Millionaire magazine to help promote the event.  All is well with the universe so I am just happy to be with such a talented and experienced group of artist and I find out I won a forth degree gold medal in the works on paper category.  This came as a total surprise to me considering the quality of work at this event.  To continue with the adventure, after the show ended in Italy, all the Americans from the show were invited to bring our works to New York.  The show at the Angel Orensanz Foundation will last until January the 11th and who knows what will happen next.  For someone who creates art that is far from the norm, this truly makes up for all the time and energy of thirty years of  working on these pictures.  I would be pleased if you would take the time to look at my work.  The web address jamesjangston.com

The monochromatic landscapes are designs that attempt to capture the harmonious balance of shape and pattern into an aesthetic illusion that challenges viewers to explore the labyrinth of psychological space. The images and forms are at once arrestingly aggressive and serenely seductive. The emotional energy is trapped within the geometric and organic shapes on the two-dimensional surface; however, the individual forms and designs serve as linear progressions to the whole. Each shape, every plane captures the fragments of light, the internal energy within the artist and the medium of pen and ink serves to contrast that emotional, intellectual, and visceral energy. The medium is basic as the surface is spatially limiting but beyond is the invitation to explore for within each viewed lies the potential of each drawing. The individual viewer may take possession which, in turn, results in profoundly personal responses to the landscapes or the viewer can permit the shapes, images and impressions to bombard the sensory perceptions for a subliminal union with the artist.

Although the medium is basic and consistent, each drawing transcends the very medium with a thematic energy which distinguishes it from the portfolio. The individual titles are revealing but they offer nothing definitive. Captured within the geometry the titles provide a reference point but like the images themselves, the titles are grammatically in movement. The effect is to control the sensory chaos, provide a psychological reference, and to alert the viewer to the artist's impulses. Of course, the viewer can inadvertently ignore or purposely reject these thematic signals, allowing for desultory impressions. Either response provides the means to control the spatial and psychological energy and to temper the chaos for a recognition of each work's inherent purpose and intent.

Like modern Op-Art and contemporary Art Nouveau, I work with illusions that are designed, spontaneous and eclectic. The geometric shapes or the organic images demand dialogue and interaction; not passivity. To comprehend the complexity of the real, the viewer must recognize himself in flux, for the drawings capture the real but frame them in the absurd. That is, the designs are safely familiar, every image recognizable; yet the geometric environments are disturbing. From harmony comes disharmony; from the familiar comes the chaotic; from the safe comes the challenge. And what is perceived externally must be challenged internally. And therein lies my purpose and my goal.

The contemporary artist's responsibility is to incorporate the individual on some level-the primordial, the conscious or the subconscious- into the work. The artist must probe, prod, provoke; he must step beyond solving sixteenth century problems about the nature of man, god and art. He must be sensitive to time, energy, matter, space while never losing the individual. Together the artist and viewer must provide shape or a new environment, a forged understanding of the future...

James Langston
Visit Designed Illusions


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