James Little: Beyond Geometry: The Art Students League, New York, NY
This brochure documents the exhibition “James Little: Beyond Geometry” which was to have been installed in March, 2020, but was delayed by the international health emergency.
“Born in Memphis, Tennessee, James Little is a son of the working class — his father toiled in construction, his mother was a cook. The value of a job well done was instilled early on, as was, it should be stressed, a job done by hand.Working alongside his father and taking note of his mother’s culinary gifts, Little gained practical understanding of the inescapable physicality of materials and the step-by-step nature of process. These lessons stick to this day: Little is nothing if not an impeccable craftsman. He makes his own paint — using, of all things, a kitchen blender to mix color — and builds each composition over the course of months.
Preparation is paramount. Oil paint, a notoriously difficult medium, is best handled with a degree of caution and an abundance of patience. Years of experimentation on Little’s part have paid off in paintings whose tactility is unlike any seen in contemporary art. Little jokingly refers to himself as both scientist and alchemist. That goes some way in explaining his lustrous blend of oil and beeswax. Applied with a palette knife — that is, of course, after a thorough priming of the canvas surface — Little arrives at textures and colors unique in their density and richness.
Methodical though Little may be, intuition is vital to the realization of the work. Rooted in the studio but attuned to the world outside of its confines, Little alternates patterns and colors with a musicality characterized by its resonance and vitality. How much mileage can be gained from forms as anonymous and sleek as stripes, triangles and angles?As Little proves, plenty.”
– Text courtesy of The Art Students League