James Nye was born in Kitchener and grew up in Ajax and Pickering. After graduating from high school he found himself with no ambition in his life and no insight into where it would take him. Nye moved to Vancouver Island where a slow and steady process of awakening took place. This is when he discovered painting. Within two years he was studying art full time at the Victoria College of Art. Nye graduated in 2002 and has since moved back to Ontario. Kitchener has been his home now since 2004.
In Nye’s paintings the beauty is in looking and not necessarily in what you are looking at. So whether they consist of clouds, graffiti or people, means little. What matters to him is how these things are given shape through the fundamental principles of light.
His paintings are rooted in the realist, descriptive tradition of oil painting. Nye tries to paint honestly, accurately and economically. Using a camera to capture what he sees, fleeting moments of light, quick glances. The photograph outlines the scene and becomes the starting point for him to express his ideas. What is uninteresting and what is beautiful are the questions posed to viewers.
This ongoing series of paintings titled ‘Manifest Expression’ is a study of visual reactions to an environment. The paintings are a synthesis of found graffiti and the landscape it inhabits. Nye’s aim is to document and share these modern day cave paintings.
The paintings feature two visual languages that coincide simultaneously. One language is the graffiti someone was compelled to create, the other language is the landscape or the location of the graffiti. These coinciding visual languages and their synthesis in paint, explore the ideas of creative expression, identity and territory.
Aesthetically the paintings are reminiscent of reflections, where colour overlaps form. The juxtaposition of graffiti with the landscape offers a new way of seeing both. Equally visible, each element can be focused on individually, but will always revert back to the physical synthesis of the two. Nye believes that in this state, the evidence of beauty is revealed.
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