Tilton Gallery is pleased to present Parallel Lines, a solo exhibition of paintings and drawings by James
Jean. This is Jean’s third one person show as a fine artist and his first at Tilton. A Reception for the artist
will be on Wednesday, January 9th from 6 to 8 pm.
Renowned as an illustrator, comic book artist and fashion and jewelry designer, Jean has channeled much
of his energy into his painting over the last several years. This new body of work is a fusion of personal and
universal themes, realism and mythology.
Jean’s work has been influenced by as diverse sources as Chinese scroll painting, Japanese woodblock
prints, Northern Renaissance art and Durer etchings, and it evokes the worlds of M.C. Escher, Aubrey
Beardsley and Hieronymous Bosch as well as psychedelic artists of the sixties. His work nevertheless is
rooted firmly in a contemporary vision that brings to mind Lisa Yuskavage, Neo Rauch, Alexis Rockman
and Takashi Murakami, among others. Allegory and realism combine to create an interior world rooted in
The core of Jean’s work lies in his obsessive, detailed linear pen and ink drawings that fill countless
notebooks and inform virtually all his creative output. Jean’s larger drawings suggest personal fairy tales
that merge with decorative abstraction, whereas his paintings capture individual narrative moments and
comment on contemporary life. Even in these, abstract drips of paint or grids of dots overlaid on the image
draw the paintings back into an imaginary dream world where nothing is as stable as it appears. This
duality is also emphasized in a few paintings that were created as diptychs, pairings of representational
rectangular paintings with Wave tondos, more abstract, digitally produced images of crashing waves. The
catalogue for Parallel Lives that accompanies this exhibition presents these pairings although each piece
may be viewed as an individual work. As Jean states, “These images represent separate realities, but there
is a relationship and tension between the images when they are paired together.” It is this underlying
tension within Jean’s disparate, parallel worlds that is ultimately the work’s creative impulse.
James Jean was born in Taiwan in 1979 and moved with his parents to New Jersey where he grew up. He
received his B.F.A. from the School of Visual Arts in New York and has been living and working in Los
Angeles since 2003. He has exhibited in group exhibitions since 2001. Jean has received numerous Eisner
awards as Best Cover Artist, beginning in 2004 and was awarded the Bronze Lion at the 2008 Cannes
Lions Festival, Cannes, France.