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James Wolanin’s paintings transport the viewer to an effervescent, candycoated world inspired by vintage advertisements, photographs, and the artist’s own childhood memories. Identifying with Pop artists like Andy Warhol and James Rosenquist, Wolanin taps into our culture’s collective visual conscious, creating vibrant, stylized reflections of American life. Sunny skies, bright smiles, and carefree Sunday drives characterize the artist’s utopic vision, which blends a nostalgia for mid-century america with a contemporary aesthetic. He notes, “I try to bring the viewer back to a time of innocence.”
Wolanin’s background as a designer is evident in his dynamic compositions, fizzing color combinations, and bold use of graphic text. He forms each painting through an innovative stenciling technique that builds layer upon layer, color upon color, and concludes with a coating of surfboard resin – a fitting medium for images that capture the jubilant atmosphere of 1960’s beach culture. Beneath their glossy, seductive surfaces, the paintings swirl with intriguing psychological substance: Wolanin does not simply paint a scene, but constructs a fragment of narrative. Like the best portraitists, he can suggest entire relationships and personalities through a character’s pose or glance.
James Wolanin lives and works in New Jersey. His work has been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions and is part of many important collections including a recent purchase by the Alex Katz Foundation.