James Bartolacci is an artist based in Queens, New York City. He received his MFA in Painting and Printmaking from the Yale School of Art in 2020. Since then he’s exhibited in group and solo exhibitions at Galerie Perrotin and Taymour Grahne Projects. He’s just launched Life Without Night, his first solo show in the UK. James believes that nightlife is an art form unto itself.
The art on display depicts James’ personal experiences of New York’s queer nightlife scene. Naturally, these images represented a lost world when the pandemic hit and the clubs were closed. The bedroom scenes depict the closure of the club scene – they also look like after parties winding down. The images “evoke the ambience, intimacy and intensity of New York’s queer nightclubs. Filling the gallery with new oil paintings and pastel drawings, Life Without Night asserts how such venues and spaces provide meaningful parameters for solidarity, social affinity and self-affirmation.”
New York recently scrapped COVID restrictions, but will the nightlife of the past return? Perhaps there’ll be a new Roaring Twenties. Perhaps rising rents and lockdowns will combine to push the legendary queer nightlife of London and New York into steeper decline. Either way, these images are a testament to the power of nightlife. Even if clubs close, the spirit of those who want to party will live on, and somehow, somewhere (your bedroom, maybe!), the party will continue.
“Dance scenes featuring hedonistic figures as they move under a cloak of neon lighting are produced by digitally collaging photographs and videos to encapsulate a variety of moments from a single night. Recreated in oil painting, each work captures a specific place and date; in Spectrum Closing Party, Bartolacci transports us to the night that Brooklyn queer nightclub Spectrum finally closed its doors. A pillar of alternative queer nightlife in New York City.” The work emphasises “the relationship between clubbing and belonging.”
The bedroom scenes capture the spirit of nightlife living on in lockdown. The artist “uses the bedroom as an ersatz setting to stage intimate and evocative scenes with friends. Exploring the significance of self-styling, these scenes are constructed collaboratively with the sitter; friends are requested to choose an outfit, lighting conditions and pose, meanwhile discussing the personal value and importance of the city’s nightlife.”
The exhibition takes place at the Taymour Grahne Projects a London-based contemporary art gallery providing a space for artists who are often not given a platform, whether they are emerging, mid-career, or historically overlooked artists. They have galleries in Notting Hill and Holland Park.
Exhibition dates: 19 June – 14 July, 2021
Address: Taymour Grahne Projects, 10 Portland Road (Holland Park), London W11 4LA
Taymour Grahne Projects is pleased to invite you to the opening of Life Without Night.