V1 Gallery is proud to present Free To Be You & Me a solo exhibition by Todd James. The exhibition opens tonight, October 5 at the gallery's Copenhagen space. Luminous colored Somali pirates, smoking cigarettes as the sun sets, drinking tea, making hostage demands on satellite phones, brandishing AK 47’s and rocket propelled grenades populate Todd James new body of work.
The paintings have an alluring innocence at first glance. Under the seductive colors and smooth compositions a darker truth lurks. These are portraits of modern
pirates, as men at work. Time and time again they jam an AK 47 into the wheels of the global economy and flow of goods, reminding us that the world is not equal for all and that humans will go to great lengths to secure riches. The duality of the work is typical for Todd James, not passing judgment, rather illuminating contradictions in contemporary so- ciety. His work is informed by the images we know from the constant stream of media we are swimming in. He distills these images, giving the viewer a chance for brief contemplation, in a time that rarely offers that.
The second part of Free To Be You & Me is a recreation of the Vandal’s Bedroom – a large-scale instal- lation – that premiered at the Art In The Streets exhibition at the MOCA in Los Angeles. The changing installation, mimics a teenage graffiti vandals bedroom and working headquarter, with hundreds of rough sketches pinned roughly to the walls, pop culture references, slogans, appropriated cartoon characters and art supplies. The piece is an homage to the environment Todd James grew up with and in part informed his later practice.
According to Todd James, both vandals and pirates step over invisible boundaries put in place by faceless power structures every day. Both also anonymously make claims (to space or to cargo), their deeds forcing society to confront the undeniable complexity of right and wrong. The exhibition and title poetically questions the inherent dilemmas of freedom in our world.
Free To Be You & Me
October 5—27, 2012