James Juthstrom (1925-2007) was a dedicated artist who lived and worked in New York for 50 years creating paintings, drawings, etchings and sculpture ranging from abstract to figurative. This reclusive artist dedicated himself solely to the creation of art in his SoHo loft. Even though he lived near a thriving gallery scene and created artwork alongside the camaraderie of New York School artists and Abstract Expressionists, he was reluctant to find representation. The drawings and paintings on view reflect Juthstrom’s intensive exploration into his private inner life as an artist.
The works of art on exhibit provide insight into Juthstrom’s lifelong quest to balance his representational concept with his abstract vision. Trained at the Brooklyn Museum School of Art, he studied life drawing and created an expansive body of work. In a New York Times review of a Brooklyn Museum of Art exhibition, Roberta Smith speaks of drawing as “the most intimate and honest of all art mediums.” Juthstrom’s drawings are indeed very personal, meant as an artist’s exploration of form and line.
From the early line drawings, masterful in their simplicity and expressiveness, Juthstrom moved on to large scale paintings on canvas, challenging his perspective within the confines of space. His idiosyncratic depiction of his loft and the anonymous figures populating the empty rooms provide a unique psychological portrayal of an artist who severed his ties to the world of commercialism. The paintings always depict the artist’s studio with emphasis on the floorboard and a faceless figure, most likely the artist himself. The scene of the interior becomes cryptic, with mirror like boxes reflecting hidden figures or space. Shadowy figures lurk in the background, watching the interior from behind screens; no faces are visible, except maybe as reflections. Often, the symbolic compositions disintegrate into pure color, line and form, reminiscent of fauvism. The narrative is always mysterious; his dystopic vision is most explicitly expressed in his color figurative drawings, which can be seen as a diary of the secretive artist’s innermost experience. The paintings illustrate the artist’s decision to withdraw from the outside world and create in the solitude of his studio.
WESTWOOD GALLERY NYC is the exclusive representative of the Estate of James Juthstrom.