Morgan Lehman is pleased to present “Culture Hero”, a solo exhibition of paintings and works on paper by James Meyer. Incorporating Jungian philosophy within a direct and honest framework, Meyer’s work has the ability to pull the viewer into a journey within the psyche, establishing a connection between past and present.
The archetypal images of childhood that are the focus of Meyer’s current work are cast in shadow, as opposed to his usually sunny, more colorful reminiscences. Set against a background resembling a starry night, or the infinite dimension of space, the figures seem to float in an otherworldly existence. The figures are rendered loosely-Meyer gives the viewer the minimum amount of information necessary to determine the age and gender of his subjects. The displacement of the figure from its expected environment, and a lack of tangible setting, allows the figures to function both as symbols of innocence as well as the inevitable loss of that innocence.
Numerous white marks infiltrate a dense darkness of black paper and vast expanses of black encaustic paint. His stark contrast of white and black conjures notions of duality and balance. The simplicity of his palette and the minimal rendering extract a powerful presence, suggesting the complexity of the unconscious and the conscious mind. Despite the seriousness in these works, a feeling of weightlessness resides. Robert Morgan, in his essay written in response to this body of Meyer’s work, describes the background of these works as “disheartening winter darkness.” This darkness also encapsulates the figures in the space, as if the bodies were warmly ensconced in the darkness, similar to one’s memories of childhood.
Meyer often uses repeated imagery (a boy crying, balancing on a tight rope, reaching for a door), reinvestigating similar situations as a way to revisit the past, isolating a moment in time in an attempt to discover a pattern or source for a current situation. In most scenes there is a familiarity that allows the viewer to locate himself in the work, and thus experience the feelings and thoughts lingering in his own inner child’s mind.
James Meyer was born in 1962, and attended the School of Visual Arts. Meyer’s work is in numerous public and private collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY, The National Gallery, Washington, DC, and the North Dakota Museum of Art.