It’s 2016, a shy and quiet Henri is getting ready to attend a small party at his friend Gertrude’s place. He doesn’t like parties that much; his ideal Friday night is staying at home, listening to some of his old eighties' records, and letting his creativity run amok on a canvas. But he knows he has to go. It’s Gertrude, and he can’t reschedule again. Besides, he’s aware that artists must mingle with other people to be known. Gertrude has insisted so much on this meeting. "What’s so fantastic about this Pablo?," he wonders. Why would he want to meet him? Anyway, she’s his friend, and she knows what she’s doing. He suddenly remembers she asked him to bring some pictures of his paintings. He had forgotten about that, but there’s no time to print them. Maybe it'll be okay if he shows some of them on his phone.
Finally, he arrives at the party. "Guess they're feeling retro tonight," he thinks as he listens to "Take on Me" playing on the room's speakers. He finds Gertrude, she's with a group of people that's surrounding a young man. He seems to be a bit full of himself in Henri’s opinion. He approaches the group, and before even getting the chance to say hello, Gertrude interrupts and introduces him to that young enthusiastic artist she’s been raving about for days.
They shake hands and before long they begin to talk about their artistic vision and both whip out their phones to show off their paintings. Henri hears the other guy drone on and on and he comes up with his first impression: this dude who keeps rambling on is egocentric and his artistic vision leaves much to be desired. One thing he grudgingly accepts is that Pablo knows how to paint. From this point forward both artists will be stalking each other's Instagram account to see who trumps who in the creative race.
Believe it or not, this meeting between Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, arranged by Gertrude Stein, took place in Paris, 1906. Both artists saw this rivalry as a friendly feud that motivated them to see who of them created the best pieces. Perhaps it was this competition that enabled them to become the most iconic artists of the Avant-garde movement. Today, their style continues to inspire artists like Todd James.
In a mixture of styles and exploiting his obsession for eighties' aesthetics, James creates images that explore popular culture through vibrant explosions of color. Starting as a graffiti artist, James became to be known among musicians and even TV producers who asked him to illustrate their works.
James has had an artistic education since childhood. From his mother, a graphic designer, and his father, a painter, he has learned to search for a vision of his own and portray reality without restricting himself to a single artistic discipline.
As prolific as Picasso was, James has exhibited in many important galleries around the world, like the Tate Museum in Liverpool, the Colette at France, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, among others. Mainly inspired by comic books and cartoons, this artist has a wide range of themes; however, his most famous works are portraits of naked women and fantastic characters. These warriors and sorceresses –as he calls them– are inspired by the universe of the famous role game Dungeons and Dragons. Sometimes using a fantasy esthetic or a style resembling Matisse's fauvism and Picasso's misshapen figures, James also portrays his childhood fantasies, and his obsession with eighties' popular culture.
Todd James' artwork is as if Picasso and Matisse had lived in modernity and settled their artistic differences in a battle of Dungeons and Dragons while listening to eighties' hits. Who would have won?
If you want to continue looking at this artist's work, check out his Instagram profile.