Todd James

Mrz 6, 2013


For his current solo exhibition, World Domination, New York artist Todd James continues his iconic Somali Pirate series. Often in headgear and masks, and brandishing secondhand AK-47s and RPGs, these pirates perform a range of quotidian activities: smoking cigarettes, drinking tea at sunset, preparing weapons, standing guard. Rendered in a vivid tropical palette, these works vibrate with goodnatured menace, and pointedly address David and Goliath themes of survival, justice, ingenuity, and ownership.

Todd James’ recent subject matter – grinning aircraft carriers, lounging blondes, sneaky missiles, beleaguered tanks, and skulls wearing sailor suits – evokes a comic book sense of horror at the modern world and pity for those that live in it. Protest images marked out in cartoon outrage, filled with recycled advertising cast-offs and corrupted child scrawls, these large-scale works of gouache and graphite smash the distance between death and jokes and between the viewer and what he or she probably goes around trying not to know about the present state of things. James’ death-ink warplanes and battleships have a chunky authority that embed themselves permanently in the mind of the viewer, while his stealth bombers and cheering bikini models jostle for space with partying warships, creating a feverish mix of complex mayhem. These paintings are psychologically and literally unstoppable: The situations they depict are in full swing and degenerating by the moment, and are deeply connected to the reality of our world today.

Todd James


March 6 – April 11, 2013
11 Rathbone Place
W1T 1HR London