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 James Gortner
Terra Incognita

May 18 - August 12, 2023

New York, 2023 – Atamian Hovsepian Curatorial Practice is pleased to present Terra Incognita, an exhibition of twelve paintings by James Gortner, on view from May 18 to August 12, 2023. 


Each of Gortner's works, created from reclaimed paint, embodies a range of artistic expression, including abstract and conceptual art. His work challenges conventional notions of permanence and self-determination and draws inspiration from existing myths, dreams, conflicts, and moods. Gortner’s use of reclaimed paint along with his inventive painting techniques, place him squarely in the camp of environmental futurism. By imagining a radically different relationship to the Earth, Gortner and other like-minded artists affirm that their work possesses meaning above and beyond purely aesthetic considerations.


The paintings currently on view belong to an ongoing series that reflect Gortner's personal journey. When Gortner was forced to leave his studio in 2016 and could no longer create there, he decided that he would take the studio with him. He reversed onto his canvas everything from the topmost drywall, flooring paint, wood veneer, footprints, loose brush bristles, down to the trace gouges in the floor. In the process he kept a record of his history in the space while tearing away its last remaining elements. Having taken the working process outside the studio and into the world, this invention born of personal disruption has become a gift that Gortner revisits in his practice to this day. Out of chaos and destruction, came transformation. 


In Terra Incognita, Gortner's works take on a heroic scope, reminding us of Rorschach tests and seemingly random water stains on which we can project our own stories. They also form rudimentary maps of uncharted lands and unfamiliar contents - each a terra incognita, like our own subconscious. The paintings are both playful and intellectually engaging, reflecting on the strength of tradition over time and life's undercurrent of constant restructuring.

James Gortner received his B.A. from Hawaii Pacific University and his MFA from Columbia University. Gortner’s work has been exhibited at The Fisher Landau Center for The Arts (New York), Mana Contemporary (New Jersey), San Bernardino County Museum (California), RW Norton Art Gallery (Louisiana), The LeRoy Neiman Gallery (New York), Lyons Wier Gallery (New York), Fernando Luis Alvarez Gallery (Connecticut), and Dittrich & Schlichtum Gallery (Berlin). His work has been featured in print in New American Paintings (North East Edition), New American Art Collector Magazine, Men’s Journal, and the Berliner, among other publications. His artwork is included in the collections of the Eileen S. Kaminsky Family Foundation, Jimenez-Colon Collection, and the Wooster Collective as well as the private collections of President Jiang Zemin of China and actress Reese Witherspoon, among others. James Gortner lives in New York.

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