“I can’t begin to tell you how impressed I was with the range and the quality of what Mr. Blake has created. We so often hear that painting is no longer the major art form, but after seeing the works of James Blake, one realizes that painting not only survives, but flourishes. His work is both skillfully executed and brilliantly creative in approach.
James Blake’s work is a reminder of why art is so important in our lives. It lifts our spirits and challenges us intellectually. And in the case of Blake’s work, adds beauty to our existence”. ~ Louis A Zona, Director The Butler Institute of American Art June19,2013
At James Blake’s February 16, 2013 show Mark Thistlethwaite proclaimed James Blake’s work as “[paintings] full of wonder, in that they arrest our attention and remind us that beauty is nearly inexhaustible in its variety and complexity.”
Works In Oil 1997-2012 Mark Thistlethwaite is the Kay and Velma Kimbell Chair of Art History at TCU School of Art
“For an artist as accomplished and sophisticated as James Blake– an artist whose quiet genius evokes the timeless beauty of whatever he draws or paints– the choice of subject is never a casual decision.
His work draws inspiration from his experience, whether of a person or place, and he invariably infuses his subjects with elements that arouse the greatest range of feelings and associations for him. Blake’s eye is unerring, never failing to capture a telling expression or the special condition that inspired him. With an austere but variegated palette, augmented by the discipline of a consummate draughtsman who wants every nuance of structure and texture revealed to the viewer, James Blake’s work celebrates the transformation of experience through the magic of an affectionate brush and pen.
In a career that spans four decades now, and has taken him to Italy and France on a regular basis as well as to the mountains of Colorado and the exotic backstreets of Eastern Europe and North Africa, James Blake incessantly makes discoveries to refresh and broaden his vision. In Paris, where he has lived for extended periods over the past ten years, he found inspiration in the city’s gardens and parks.
After seeing a portrait of a tree painted by James Blake, one never looks again the same way at an aged tree.” ~ Edmund P Pillsbury from James Blake’s Trees
“For two decades Jim Blake has been painting landscapes, still lifes and portraits, approaching these traditional subjects with the straightforwardness of an orthodox Realist. And until very recently he has rigorously maintained clear divisions between the classifications: the landscapes described the complexities of nature, the still lifes explored the colorful details of arrangements of flowers and inanimate objects, while the portraits captured each subject’s individuality.
While this early work has always been solid, Blake’s newest paintings have begun to demonstrate an exciting change of direction demonstrating a refreshingly personal approach. Blake has continued to compose his still life paintings in his studio, but now, using the same prisms that formerly had appeared in his studies of light and color, Blake has begun to create narratives, making the paintings both poignant and humorous.
Even the titles have changed. Where previously he used descriptive phrases to name the work, Blake now points out his allegory with titles like “Important People Leaving a Public Building: for a picture that shows four prisms of varying scale standing on a red striped fabric that billows out of a worn cardboard box, or “Priest of an Extinct Cult” for a picture of a single prism centered on yet another length of the striped fabric that stretches across intersecting planes of white drawing paper.
In breaking the barriers that previously had categorized his subjects, Blake has freed himself to put more of his own character into the work. Building upon his traditionalism and without forsaking his love of color and form, for the first time Blake has integrated his love for his medium with his very personal wit and sense of fun.”
~ Susan Freudenhim, Fort Worth TX, Autumn 1984