WESTWOOD GALLERY NYC is pleased to present an exhibition of figurtive paintings by James Juthstrom (1925-2007). For 50 years this reclusive artist worked alongside the New York School artists and abstract expressionists, yet dedicated himself solely to the creation of art through intensive solitary effort within his SoHo loft. The paintings on view represent Juthstrom’s quest for incorporating the figurative and representational with his Abstract Expressionistic visions.
Despite the distinctive compositional definition, the scene of interior and its nameless occupants disintegrates to pure painterly expression of color and form. Through Juthstrom’s idiosyncratic interpretation of Abstract Expressionism, the interior amalgamates with anonymous and abstracted figures and becomes an opaque, mysterious surface. Harold Rosenberg, an eminent writer and critic of art, theorizes that in the case of Abstract Expressionism, any mark on the canvas should be seen in the context of an artist’s intense inner experience, as a kind of testimony to the artist's hidden genuine self. Juthstrom’s paintings, in this light, may contain symbolic equivalents for the artist’s interior psyche, like hidden clues behind the surface. Therefore, these works on view provides us with a uniquely intense psychological portrayal of an artist who has severed his tie to the secular world of commercialism.
An extraordinary artist who lived and worked in New York City throughout his life, James Juthstrom’s artwork has recently been re-discovered, uncovering five decades of painting, drawing, etching and sculpting. The artist removed himself from the commercialization of his artwork, even though he lived impoverished, his truth was in the creation of art.
About the artist
James Juthstrom (1925-2007) was a dedicated artist who lived and worked in a SoHo loft for 50 years creating paintings, drawings, etchings and sculpture ranging from abstract to figurative. In the 1950’s Juthstrom studied at the Brooklyn Museum Art School focusing on line drawings and color relation similar to Milton Avery. Professor Bill Kienbusch (Modernist painter 1914-1980) described his work as ‘very exciting,-authentic, true conviction’ and Professor Reuben Tam (American Landscape painter, 1916-1991) wrote “Upon entering your exhibition I stood in a wonderful golden world where everything was radiant, strong and mysterious”. Juthstrom was recognized by critics early on and included in numerous museum group exhibitions, including Whitney Museum of American Art, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Detroit Institute of the Arts and Brooklyn Museum. He also had several solo exhibitions at galleries, including Gallery G in New York, which received a review in the New York Times, Paul Schuster Art Gallery in Cambridge and Landmark Gallery in New York. A recent ARTnews review chronicles the rediscovery of this reclusive artist who moved in the circle of New York School artists and abstract expressionists.
In the early 1960's, James Juthstrom started moving further away from representational, towards a more intricate abstract expressionist style. His lines and strokes had been loose and his style painterly, until a time when he began to create enigmatic patterns of small circles or hatch marks on canvas and paper. On large canvases, measuring from eight feet across, to the largest at twenty seven feet across, the artist spent countless hours painting uncountable layers of an infinite maze of colored circles with hidden formations that become visible only under light. This period also marks his interest in reflective pigments and their effects on the whole of the composition: large paintings are created from a pattern of gold leaf surfaces, while many others incorporate various types of reflective patterns. Juthstrom's paintings reflect his fascination with the cosmos, mathematical formulas and biology, interspersed with personal anguish in his passion for art. This fascination led him to take another step, namely to create his own elliptical stretchers which he continued doing through the 1970s. The series of elliptical paintings reflects the creativity of an artist who was working in a period when the square canvas started to be felt as a constrictive shape, too academic, which had to be altered in order to enable the artist to express personal vision. Drawings from the 1960's and 70's are masterful works in minute detail, using a variety of techniques, suggestive of outsider artists and evoking Mark Tobey’s mystical paintings based on interpretation of a spiritual reality.
This period also marked a return toward a different type of representational painting than the one he practiced in the 1950s. This series represents a combination of his Abstract Expressionist techniques with the quest for incorporating the figurative and representational, in a need for more compositional definition. James Juthstrom created a number of paintings that are structural, and represent his view of New York architecture. At first glance, they appear abstract and reveal the same technique of various layers of brush strokes with different colors. But on closer exam, they are in fact buildings or interiors, and there is almost always an object marking the orientation, like a clue hidden for the viewer. Sometimes, it is a fire escape ladder, but it can also be a stylized chair or anything else that points out the orientation. The same structural motif appears in the works on paper, a sign that structure and balance of space was something increasingly important for the artist.
In the last 30 years of his life Juthstrom removed himself from the commercialization of his artwork, even though he could have had representation. Juthstrom turned away from the art world, possibly due to fear of success or a jaded view of the business of art -- his truth was in the creation of art. The artist died in May 2007, leaving behind a legacy of his lifetime dedication. Since the release of his estate collection in fall of 2008, museums and collectors are reviewing the artwork for acquisition and discovering the history of this brilliant artist.
Westwood Gallery exclusively represents the artwork from the Estate of James Juthstrom (1925 – 2007)