Coverage & Interview – Todd James “Garden of Eden” at Ross + Kramer Gallery NYC
Todd James “REAS” is back with a new solo show at Ross+ Kramer Galleries in Chelsea, NYC. The exhibit features a collection of gigantic original works that to truly appreciate one needs to observe in person. Todd’s work will be up until April 29th at the gallery’s location at 515 W 27th Street (bet. 10th and 11th Ave.) in New York City. I had the honor of checking out the paintings with Todd and had a brief chat about the show, his process, the mammoth sized canvases, and the mysteries hidden within them.
So Todd, these pieces are some grandiose works. Were they created because you had extra time during COVID alone in your studio, or did you just feel like working on larger scale pieces?
Actually for most of COVID’s serious lockdown I was working on different pieces. These were all made this year in 2021. These were kind of developed coming out of the fog of those lockdowns. I had been talking to Todd Kramer for awhile about what to do for this show and he was like, “you know you should do some straight up classic graffiti burners”. But I didn’t want to do something completely graffiti oriented, or something completely contemporary, and so what happened is something in the middle. I definitely dipped back into some of my history. I did look back through a bunch of my old work and realized that I’d never really let go of that style anyways. It’s all kinda still hidden in there, and these works were more of going back and embracing spray paint again. It’s all kind of still in there, but this is just, you know, it’s me embracing spray paint again. That was really one of the main objectives.
So the medium is all spray paints?
No, not all; but I was bringing it back and using it on a large scale, you know, in a way where you can see all sorts of aspects like markings and movement… I guess you could dub it “analog”.
It’s definitely large and analog. So I guess it helps the show act as a loose kind of retrospective?
In a way yes. It’s returning to some of my roots, but not completely. This isn’t exactly what I would’ve done in the 1980s… So it’s like an update, revisiting the old while still leaning towards the future.
Exactly, you revisited some of your classic imagery like the battleship you made into a pool floaty a couple years back, and of course your trademark women and guns, and undoubtably these are mixed with new images and elusive letters and words.
Yeah. It’s like the Garden of Eden, you know, it’s the snake and Eve…
And your name (REAS) I’m assuming hidden in there?
Exactly, yes… vaguely… It could be, or maybe it’s not, but yeah.
I love how these pieces like you were saying encompass the old and new school with some mystery.
Right! They’re more abstract than they are straight up graffiti pieces where they would absolutely say something definitively. It’s not traditional bubble letters… Go ahead and tell me what that says, is it a “B”?, maybe it’s an “M”? So the mystery is a big and important part of the paintings, I feel like even in subway graffiti a lot of the accidents that would happen when you’re making a piece in sub-optimal conditions, and it doesn’t turn out always as planned. So with this new body of work the more mystery that is involved the better. It makes it so you’re always looking, you can always go back and look at it, try to figure out what you think it says, and you will always find something new to discover.
The paintings are of such grandiose scale… if you’re going to put something like this in your home you want to have that kind of longevity, creativity, and mystery to keep it fresh. But most people don’t have the room or large scale pieces like these so they need to visit Ross + Kramer Gallery in NYC to truly enjoy the beauty, depth, and sheer magnitude of these pieces before the show ends April 29. I know you’re crazy busy with the opening just a couple hours away, before we end is there anything else coming up with you we should know about?
I mean, right now, I’m just absolutely in the moment here.
Thank you so much Todd and congratulations on a magnificent show.
All Photo’s & Text Copyright 2021 Matthew A. Eller. Follow me on Instagram @elleresqphoto