With ROOM TO BREATHE at V1 gallery, 2x Juxtapoz cover artist Todd James debuts a newly emerging style that he first began to experiment with in 2018. Loosely rendered compositions in oil stick and oil paint on unprimed linen, these painting take James away from flat shapes and solid color forms to embrace texture and a deliberately rough line, heavy with human intent.

Within these works the unprimed linen creates an earthy base that peeks through to the surface of the painting, making it through the crowded energetic field of oil paint into view, to ground these paintings both visually and psychologically. For James, this style is as equally about the drawing and line work as it is about the paint stroke itself, creating a hybrid of both methods.

These paintings offer the viewer a tour through varied and vivid old world interiors, rendered in rich, deeply saturated jewel tones and populated with familiar James iconography such as piles of chairs, pots and pans, and lush foliage. These are largely unpopulated or solitary spaces, meditative and often painted in an intimate scale. They exude a certain calm, as there is comfort to be taken in their scenes of humanity: lived-in rooms crowded with furniture and objects, filled with coffee cups and other remains of camaraderie, their analog vibration and airy compositions offering respite to the viewer through these affectionate domestic touchstones.

Rounding out the works on view are small portraits of snipers in Ghillie suits. James’ work rarely fails to address themes of war and warfare, and the elephant in the room that is the American Empire. His sniper series perhaps suggests that stealth is necessary for success in the external world, and also reminds us that while camouflage may be nature’s tool for self-preservation, there is not a lot of room to breathe inside the armor of one’s deception.