An exhibition of recent work by James Little --- including large horizontal abstract canvases with brilliantly colored vertical geometric shapes for which the artist is best known that are interspersed with smaller works in a similar style but a quieter palette – is now being shown at the June Kelly Gallery. The exhibition, entitled Never Say Never, will remain on view through June 21.
Little mixes his own colors with pure pigment and heated beeswax and puts multiple layers of each color on his canvases. This technique gives his paintings uncanny depth, intensity and resonance.
“Color is the crucial element in Little’s work,” writes Karen Wilkin, the art historian and critic in an essay in the exhibition invitation. “Over the years, just as the divisions within his paintings have varied from sharply pointed narrow triangles to parallel bands, his palette has shifted from saturated colors to paler, luminous hues with the cool matte quality of Renaissance frescoes.
“In recent works, the colored bands talk to each other across the expanse of the picture in ways that suggest illusions of pleating and expanding, before subsiding into the flat continuum. Repetitions of groupings of bars, their clear chroma set off by neutrals, create internal syncopations.”
“We are confronted,” Wilkin says, “by almost imperceptible chromatic shifts across the picture that provide vitality and animation.”
According to Wilkin, Little has two main concerns with color, in his words, “How to make it flat and how to make it interesting. Color has to have some humanity in it.”
Little lives and works in New York City. He holds a BFA degree from the Memphis Academy of Art and an MFA degree from Syracuse University.
Little has participated in numerous one-person and group exhibitions throughout the United States and Europe. His paintings are represented in museum, corporate and private collections, including Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse; New Jersey State Museum, Trenton; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York City; Tennessee State Museum, Nashville; Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock; Library of Congress, Washington, DC, and Maatschappij Arti Et Amicitiae, Amsterdam, Holland.