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James Keul is an artist, currently living in Little Italy, New York, who has spent the past eleven years of his life dedicated
fully to the production and exhibition of his artwork. He was born in Oakland, California in 1980, and, after living in
Connecticut for some time, he moved back to the Bay area with his family where he grew up in Albany, California. At the age
of 16, James moved to the island of Western Samoa for one year of high school, where he was exposed to fa'a Samoa, or the
'Samoan way', which became hugely influential on both his life and his artwork. The great respect that the people of Samoa
have for each other and the land, ultimately changed the way James viewed the world, and the paintings that he began doing
in Samoa, and in the United States upon his return, reflect his experiences there. Mankind's relationship with nature has been
a constant theme in all of James's work and the respect that he learned there for traditions and the passing down of
knowledge, has led him to pursue a traditional education in painting, where a similar respect can be found for those who
came before us.
James took one year off from school before attending university at the Savannah College of Art and Design, which he spent
traveling in South-east Asia, Europe, and Alaska. In 2003, James attended a study abroad program in Lacoste, France, where
had had his first solo exhibition at Gallerie Bleu.
In 2004, after graduating cum laude from SCAD with a B.F.A in painting, James moved to New York to study at the Art
Students League. Here he expanded his oeuvre by learning how to paint portraits and figures. After one year at the Art
Students League, James received a scholarship to study at the Ecole de Marchutz in Aix-en-Provence, France. He attended
school there for six weeks, painting the landscape made famous by Cezanne a hundred years earlier. He also was awarded a
merit scholarship by the Art Students League. James currently works out of his painting and printmaking studio in Little Italy.
My work is an exploration of our current environmental, cultural, and political condition and how we are prepared to treat
or interact with our environment. Before moving to New York City, I was primarily a landscape painter with a focus on the
natural world. For the past eight years, however, living in the city, I have focused more on the human figure, allowing me
to address some of the more psychological aspects that a human presence can bring to a painting. My current project is a
series of large-scale landscapes with a juxtaposition of natural and man-made elements that are in direct contradiction to
one another, such as a giant volcano ash-cloud that dominates the composition coming out of a barely-noticeable power
plant at the bottom. In other compositions, groups of panicked, Baroque-looking figures interact within their environments,
which are essentially battlegrounds between human nature and Mother Nature. .