Exhibiting Artist

James Deeb

July 8 - August 25 , 2017
Reception: Friday, July 14, 6:30-8pm

I was born behind the wall of West Berlin in the mid-1960’s. My father was in the U.S. military and my family moved often. By the time I was three, we had left Berlin for Texas, with intervening stops in Indiana and California. Our next destination was to be Moscow, but everything changed with the sudden death of my father. My family settled in a small city in Indiana, to be close to my mother’s family. I remember drawing a lot as a child and making animated movies with lumpy clay dinosaurs.

Although I had always been interested in art, I did not seriously study art until I went to college. I graduated from Indiana University at South Bend in 1988 and received an MFA from Western Michigan University in 1994. From the the beginning my work has been ominous and melancholy to a varying degree. My father’s untimely passing, along with our semi-nomadic existence, left me acutely aware of the transitory nature of life at a very early age. And even though I enjoyed a fairly settled life afterward, it informs my art practice to this day.

I am not alone. My work is part of a continuum that has its philosophical roots in texts like Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy. It can be seen in the work of the German Expressionists and continues through the writings of authors like J.G. Ballard and Charles Bukowski. I refer to this artistic strand as the dystopian minority opinion.

Artist's Statement

“I bet you love scary movies.”

I was answering questions for a couple of visitors at an exhibition of my work, when one of them made that comment. I thought for a moment and replied, “No, not really. But I feel compelled to watch them.” She nodded in understanding. Many stories do not have a happy ending. Other stories do not end at all. I’m glad she understood.

Another comment I hear frequently goes more or less like this: “I love your work, but I don’t think I could live with it.” My response is always the same: “That’s exactly why you should live with it.” I’ve visited the homes of several people who own my work and have had the opportunity to see how they live with it. One collector had a piece hanging in his breakfast nook, near the back door. I asked him, “Why there?” He replied that it was what he wanted to look at in the morning before starting his day. Many puzzles take a long time to solve. Other puzzles have no solution. I’m glad he understood.

 

Exhibits Managed by South Shore Arts

James Deeb_Near Miss 2.jpg
James Deeb_The Errant Parade.jpg