NEW PAINTINGS, DRAWINGS, AND PRINTS BY JAMES SIENA
MARCH 25–APRIL 30, 2011
NEW YORK, MARCH 8, 2011—The Pace Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of paintings, drawings,
and prints by James Siena, featuring new works created by the artist over the past three years. The
exhibition focuses on the artist’s methodology, from his use of repeated systems to figurative drawings that
explore alternate means of creating an image. The show will be on view at 510 West 25th Street from March
25 through April 30, 2011. The artist will be present at an opening reception on Thursday, March 24 from
6 to 8 p.m.
James Siena is known for his unique process, creating intricate geometric abstractions driven by predetermined
self-imposed sets of rules, or “visual algorithms.” By establishing a basic unit and action and repeating it ad
infinitum, Siena allows the unpredictability of his self-generated system to govern the final outcome of his complex
picture plane, while still maintaining the presence of the artist’s hand. The exhibition features twenty-three new
glossy enamel on aluminum paintings, and thirty works on paper; together, the painstakingly crafted works
demonstrate that even a small change to an initial variable produces vastly different end results.
Sequence I (2009), an unbound artist’s proof for a limited edition, hand-printed, double-sided accordion book that
stretches seventeen-feet long, will also be mounted in the gallery. The double-sided book follows a linear,
geometric pattern as it coalesces and unwinds through thirty-six pages, black intertwining with red, and in reverse.
The abstraction climaxes on two final frames (back and front), where the sequence reaches its full realization and
the rule is maximized, having gone through seventeen “moves.” The book, published by Flying Horse Editions, is
scheduled to be released in April 2011. The artist created the original woodcut on which the book is based during
a residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in 2009. A bound version will be viewable upon request.
As Siena’s repeating patterns, sequences, curves, loops, and interlocking combs entwine and unwind, his
abstractions become matrices for investigations into liminality and mutate into biomorphic forms. The artist
identifies works such as Pharynx Dentata (2010), Angry Form (2009) and Slab (2008) as “biomorphic crossovers,”
transitioning into new ways of building an image, which expand upon the stylistic experiments that he introduced
in his 2008 gallery show. The flattened primitive-like figures and heads, orifices with sharp teeth, and genitalia that
Siena’s abstractions give way to demonstrate what the artist calls the “interplay between materiality and life,”
allowing for the juxtaposition of “randomness against order.” Unlike Siena’s algorithmic abstractions, in these
figurative (and often erotic) drawings pictorial composition is no longer determined by the will of the preestablished
rule; rather, the artist defines the forms at the outset, asserting his own boundaries for the repeating
elements and meticulous cross-hatching. Ultimately the expansive, outward growth of Siena’s algorithmicallyderived
abstractions turns inwards and genesis becomes not only process, but subject. Siena once explained that
“all work is an affirmation of being human, of being in this particular container [the body] with locomotion and
holes for intake and output […]; motif and variation are placeholders, in part for the architecture of my
consciousness, and ideally they are on a steadily rolling feedback loop.”
James Siena (b. 1957, Oceanside, California) received his BFA from Cornell University, New York in 1979. His
work has been featured in over 110 solo and group exhibitions, including the 2004 Whitney Museum of American
Art Biennial. In 2009 Siena received the Eissner Artist of the Year Award from the Cornell Council for the Arts,
Cornell University. The artist was elected to the Board of Directors at Yaddo in 2008, where he completed an
artist-in-residency program in 2004. His many honors also include the Award in Art from the American Academy of
Arts and Letters, New York (2000); the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Biennial Competition Award (1999), and
The New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Painting (1994), among others. Siena has lectured and held
teaching positions at institutions throughout the United States, including most recently in New York at The
Museum of Modern Art, in addition to Cooper Union School of Art, Cornell University, Pratt Munson-Williams-
Proctor Institute, and School of Visual Arts.
Siena’s work is held in many prestigious public collections, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York;
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others.
James Siena lives and works in New York City. He has been represented by The Pace Gallery since 2004.
For more information about James Siena, please contact the Public Relations department of The Pace
Gallery at 212.421.8987. For general inquiries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org; for reproduction
requests, email email@example.com.