Artists shares urban inspiration

Graffiti, commonly seen in urban centres, doesn’t often receive recognition as a form of art; however for Kitchener artist James Nye, it continues to inspire what he puts on canvas. Opening of his studio to the public on Dec. 18, Nye showed off his Manifest Expression series of paintings that juxtapose graffiti and landscape.

“I started describing them as modern day cave paintings,” said Nye, a graduate of the Victoria College of Art. “For thousands of years humans have been writing on walls, the caves are just a little different now.”

Commenting on his interpretation of graffiti, Nye said, “It’s all about the creative expression of the people that do graffiti, it’s about architecture, it’s about my creative expression combining the graffiti that exists out there with the place where it was found.”

Looking at Nye’s paintings, the layering of graffiti over the landscape in the background resembles a double exposed photo. “When I execute the painting, it’s a balance of getting just the right colours to create the illusion that it’s almost floating on top,” Nye explained of the effect.

The latest series of paintings Nye is working on will illustrate the technique but highlight European landscape unlike the examples of Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and New York at the exhibit. “I was in Europe for five weeks with my mom on a bicycle trip in September,” Nye explained of the change.

While his recent trip has inspired the new series, Nye also said, “I have thousands of ideas for paintings I could do if I had enough canvases and enough time, paint and money to live on to do them.”

Nye returned to Ontario from the west coast in 2002, settling in Kitchener in 2004. He said that while he expected to move stay in Toronto, he didn’t like the feeling of the city and rather returned to the place he was born. “Now seven years in, I feel pretty comfortable here, especially in the arts community, it seems like it’s blossoming,” said Nye on building connections and a life in K-W.

Getting involved and volunteering with events and organizations in the region — which Nye also advised young artists to do — helped establish him in the arts community. “It just sort of sped up the whole process of getting connected and realizing what’s going on…. Once you put your ear to the ground you realized there’s a lot going on,” he said.

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