Todd James: Business as Usual

Madrid, September 20 - December 3, 2013

Press Release

The Galería Javier López begins the exhibition season with the specific project ‘Business as Usual’ - the second solo show in our country by American artist Todd James (New York, 1969). The opening will take place in the context of APERTURA 2013, an event organized by the Contemporary Art galleries association ArteMadrid.

In this exhibition, James presents a variety of works from numerous of his series and themes. The title of the show refers to the artist’s perception that, despite recent apocalyptic fervor, the status quo maintains its dominance throughout the world. War machines rumble on, pirates can be seen on the horizon, women lounge poolside, walls get written on… This is James’s milieu, all represented here in the form of large scale acrylic paintings, cut sheets of paper, marker drawings and installation. These works can loosely be seen as a time line of his work, from early subway painting to his gallery and museum work.

The exhibition will include the recreation of James’ “Vandal’s Bedroom”, the sprawling, graffiti filled structure that was a highlight of the ‘Art in the Streets’ exhibition at LA MoCA. This version of the work is equally dense with information. Part object, part installation, this teenage vandal’s bedroom-turned-graffiti-battle-station gives glimpses of plans for an imaginary artistic takeover. Bleeding marker drawings form letter styles from the rough and tumble 1980s New York subway era, combined with re-purposed cartoon characters performing decidedly off-model activity. A clutter of color, slogans, fantasies, and affiliations is all barely contained, ready to spill out of this eat, sleep, and breathe environment. The piece is a celebration of early influences and an exercice of traditions that remain relevant, holding up better than ever.

According to James, both vandals and pirates step over invisible boundaries put in place by faceless power structures. Both also anonymously make claims (to space or to cargo, respectively), and their deeds resonate with David and Goliath undertones. These works force society to confront the undeniable complexity of right and wrong, and to explore the inequalities of the human experience. It is this sense of injustice that informs and energizes James’ work. The fact that James is able to do this with a generous amount of humor is his unique ability.

Todd James lives and works in New York. He has had numerous one-person exhibitions internationally, from New York, London, Copenhagen to Tokyo, Brussels, Sidney, Melbourne, and Paris. James’ work has also been included in group shows at ICA - Institute of Contemporary Art of Philadelphia, Tate Museum in Liverpool, and ARoS Museum in Denmark. His most recent museum exhibition, a large collaborative installation for ‘Art in the Streets’ at MoCA in Los Angeles, was a critical popular addition to that show. Besides his work as illustrator for publications and originator of series for Cartoon Network channel, James is co-author of the book “Mascot and Mugs: The Characters of Subway Graffiti” (2007). His latest collaboration has been with pop star Miley Cyrus's in the design of giant dancing teddy bears for her news shattering Video Music Awards performance broadcasted in MTV earlier this month.

Download as PDF (1.1 MB)

Artist Page

Todd James

Selected Press

Álbum magazine
September 30, 2013

Download PDF (3.6 MB)
Arrested Motion
September 26, 2013

Download PDF (1.2 MB)
September 23, 2013

Download PDF (2 MB)
September 23, 2013

Download PDF (1.3 MB)
September 20, 2013

Download PDF (2.1 MB)

Todd James: Business as Usual

Detail Image