The paintings of James English Leary (*1982 Chicago, US) pit figuration against abstraction invoking metaphors that nurse (and satirize) camp-psychological states in the viewer. Rather than “painting the paintings” Leary constructs them out of painting’s component parts (stretcher, fabric, color, in that order) often employing a shaped substrate. The resulting image-objects and their buoyant overtures towards a “language” humorously engage the problematics of how to “read” a painting and conjure the art experience as a slapstick rorschach, a drama of legibility, which hinges on the impossibility of making a shape that doesn’t eventually refer back to something of this world. James English Leary is an artist and filmmaker living and working in New York City.
Recent solo shows include: 'James English Leary | Small Fishes Swim Around Inside of Large Fishes', Galerie Lisa Kandlhofer, Vienna, 2019; 'Another Family Romance', Galerie Lisa Kandlhofer, Vienna, 2018; 'Hoi Polloi', Nathalie Karg Gallery, New York, 2018; 'Half a Mississippi Steamboat', Andersen's, Copenhagen, 2018; 'The Bursting Grape', Galerie Lisa Kandlhofer, Vienna, 2017; 'James English Leary and André Azevedo', Galeria SIM, Curitiba, 2017; 'Family Romance', Galerie Leyendecker, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, 2016; 'James English Leary and Aine Vonnegut', Safe Gallery, Brooklyn, 2015; 'Lady Chatterley’s Lover’s Lovers', Four A.M., New York, 2016; 'The Joys of Mortgaging Your Future‘, Boyfriends, Chicago, 2016; 'Triple Motherfucker', Vito Schnabel Projects, New York, 2015 and 'Smoked Fruit', Ray Smith Studio, Brooklyn, 2015.
He was included in recent group shows such as: 'Orphans of Painting II', Ethan Cohen Beacon NY, New York, 2019; 'Flat Out: Drawings, 2000–2019', Mana Contemporary, Jersey City, 2019; 'André Azevedo & James English Leary', SIM Galeria, Curitiba, 2017; 'At Capacity', Fastnet, Brooklyn, 2016; 'If Walls Are Trembling', Galerie Lisa Kandlhofer, Vienna, 2016; 'Body Language', Powrplnt, Brooklyn, 2016; 'Friends With Benefits', Galerie Leyendecker, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, 2016; 'Intimacy in Discourse', SVA Gallery, New York, 2015 and 'The Fire Next Time', Galerie Leyendecker, Santa Cruz, 2014.
Leary was a recipient of a 2015 Tiffany Foundation Award and was a resident of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation in Captiva, Florida. He is an adjunct professor at The Cooper Union in New York City and a founding member of The Bruce High Quality Foundation and the Bruce High Quality Foundation University, a free arts university operating in New York City. The Foundation’s works have been included in Greater New York at MOMA Ps1, The 2010 Whitney Biennial and The Sundance Film Festival.