PROJECTS > Jim Thompson

Jim Thompson


  • Seattle Art Fair 2015
    Curated by Charlie James
  • Mille Bornes
  • ArtPadSF 2013
  • Dallas Art Fair 2013
  • Miami Project 2012
  • Art Toronto 2012

  • Artist's Catalog (pdf, 1.84 Mb)


    Henry Geldzahler famously said of Andy Warhol’s work that “people have a longing to see the familiar codified in some way.” This is among the truest things uttered about how fine art works, in particular how Pop Art works. Pop established an inexhaustible image system from within which artists can draw new subject territory. It will never go away. Pop is constantly replenishing itself and reflecting the new, which is in stark contrast to the desperate, recursive exhaustion of formalist painting as it looks for fresh perspectives on canvas though gesture line and color.

    Painting provides an intepretable and pleasurable visual structure that serves as a delivery vehicle for ideas. Painting for painting’s sake is for me an effete pleasure akin to wine tasting that owes its survival to the utility of art as decoration and the absence of footholds necessary to support legitimate intellectual inspection. I recoil from the refrain “the work is about what painting can do” that so often attends discussion of contemporary abstract work. While I acknowledge that one of the fundamental utilities of art is to afford viewers a peaceable remove from the world – a space for intellectual contemplation – I find art’s fundamental utility to be the illumination of life and of the world, and that meaning is no enemy to contemplation.

    I did not study art in college or in graduate school. I did study literature, aesthetic theory, and literary theory in both. The only theory or definition of Art that I studied that could not be disproved in some way was the Institutional Theory (Dickey & Danto), a tautology that claims Art is what the Art World says it is, evidenced by Duchamp and Warhol, etc. My practice looks to objects, images and narratives that function in every way like art while remaining outside of what art is deemed to be solely as a result of their context. I champion miscegenation amongst design elements, entertainment, and art. I also embrace an Emotionalist (Tolstoy) position on art. Movies, music and television have conditioned in me a heightened sensitivity to the evocative. I like to moved and to be communicated with. I have no reluctance in declaiming that this is chiefly what art is and has been for, at the end of the day.

    I am fascinated by the indelibility of impressions formed during childhood and adolescence. It is my intention to excavate these most durable memories and document them through painting and sculpture, and to examine their recontextualized form. My practice is therefore experimental in nature. The first series of images I have produced are the baseball card paintings, all taken from the year 1977, all from the card publisher Topps. The paintings intend to be faithful to the cards in both size and image, any changes to the look of the original cards are the result of happenstance or error. The selection of 1977 as the source year for the card paintings resulted from personal memory (1977 was the year I actually collected baseball cards) and excellence in graphic design, which contributed in no small way to the durability of the memories I suspect. The card paintings intend to be evocative, and I suppose that creating a state of thoughtful reverie is their clearest intention. The card paintings surface ways in which male heroism is coded, and by virtue of their age they show the changing face of male heroism and male beauty. Like all pillars of memory, the card paintings summon not only the ‘then’ and its Proustian swirl of associations, but the gulf of time between the ‘then’ and the ‘now.’ They are about aging in a narrow authorial sense (my aging.) They are about value. They are about the men themselves, and their exploits. They are about what painting can do.


Roll!, 30 x 22 inches, Oil on Canvas. 2013