James Wolanin: Redefining Americana Through Personal Narrative

Joanne Artman Gallery
Sep 7, 2016 9:36PM

Cherry red, candy-coated lips, chiseled locks, glossy tans, and perfectly arched eyebrows characterize the subject matter James Wolanin’s paintings. Often set amid deceptively simple backgrounds, his work borrows as well as elevates the subject of Americana which it portrays. 

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Joanne Artman Gallery
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Joanne Artman Gallery

Wolanin vividly reimagines the type of “snapshot image” featured in popular American advertisements from his childhood. He invents characters reminiscent of vintage poster girls to capture a wholesome innocence, melding the moral virtuousness of the '50s with the iconic visuals of '60s. Wolanin depicts these recognizable tropes through a precise, hard-edged style, using surfboard resin as a finish. 

Solanin's subject matter and visual style are clear nods to the 1960s Pop artists, especially Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselmann, David Hockney, and Alex Katz. Rendered in radiant hues of blues, pastels, and reds, Wolanin's images also display a nostalgia and fondness for the ideals of the American Dream.

In drawing upon these references—whether advertisements, art historical movements, or his own personal history—Wolanin's paintings subvert and, at the same time, attempt to perfect our collective vision of the past, and thus defy a single definitive category. 

Represented at JoAnne Artman Gallery Laguna Beach || 326 North Coast Hwy. Laguna Beach, CA 92651

949.510.5481 || www.joanneartmangallery.com || [email protected]

Joanne Artman Gallery