Opening Reception: Saturday, 2 February, 6:00 – 8:00pm Walter Maciel Gallery will present a new series of work entitled Friends and Strangers by San Francisco based artist James Buckhouse. The exhibition includes a group of large format watercolors on paper.
As noted by the title, Buckhouse uses both friends and strangers as his subjects for this new body of work. He began analyzing the different characteristics of strangers seen in his everyday life in comparison to the inherent qualities of his friends. Knowing a person’s behavior and particular interests can account for understanding the different accessories and styles worn by them. It can also explain the decision a friend makes to socialize and be in the company of certain types of people. With strangers this information is void and we are forced to actively invent and imagine the lives of others. Visual indicators such as fashion, hairstyles or body movements all contribute to interpreting the narrative of one’s existence.
Working from a still camera taken on daily outings, Buckhouse seeks out faces and gestures connected to a pose. Sometimes the subjects respond by exaggerating the pose and other times the image is more candid. He is equally interested in depicting specific accessories as he is in interpreting body language. In one image a man with a knit cap and button down shirt stands next to a shorter person wearing a horse head mask with a hounds tooth jacket and a green scarf. The positioning of the two bodies is intimately close and the exposed face of the man contains a slight smirk. The viewer has the same challenges as Buckhouse in determining the whereabouts the couple is going, the reasoning behind the mask and the overall relationship of the two individuals.
When photographing friends, the process shifts to a completely controlled space with exaggerated lighting. The challenge for Buckhouse is finding ways to make the shoot less formal to reveal the same innocence and provocative quality that the strangers provide on the streets. In one image a man dressed in a sleeveless shirt with tattoos across both upper arms poses for the shoot with arms crossed over and a wide-eyed stare at the camera. The graphic content of the tattoos and closed off positioning of his body tells a visual language of its own that competes with the spontaneous information of someone being randomly observed in the world. Although some of the images are more obvious than others, the viewer is never aware of who is a stranger and who is a friend.
Buckhouse is included in a new book entitled Models: 306090 11 (306090) that is published by the Princeton Architectural Press last year. A commission entitled Tap for the Dia Center for the Arts in New York in 2002 was included in the Whitney Biennial that same year. Furthermore, Buckhouse has exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London and has given a preview of his collaborative work with New York City Ballet choreographer Christopher Wheeldon at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Works & Process series. He is a finalist of the 2008 SECA (Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art) Award at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
The gallery is located at 2642 S. La Cienega Blvd. in Los Angeles and is open from Tuesday through Saturday, 11am to 6pm. For further inquiries please contact Walter Maciel at 310 839 1840 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please visit the gallery website at www.waltermacielgallery.com.