Yellena James, “Radiance” at LeQuiVive Gallery

by admin on January 19, 2015

Using pen, ink, and acrylic, Oregon-based artist Yellena James creates colorful, seemingly recognizable organic landscapes: semblances of coral reefs, tangled seaweed and anemones abstracted into shapes, colors and forms. In this way she fashions an intriguing tension of the familiar and the exotic, the natural and beguiling fantasy. In “Radiance,” her solo show at Oakland’s LeQuiVive Gallery, James’ works on panel and drawings act as fractured glimpses into the spectacular, subaqueous ecosystems.

To the artist these light-hearted and bright worlds were in some ways an escape from the tumultuous surroundings in the formative years of her art practice. Born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, James began her training at an arts high school during the Bosnian civil war. “Making art during those years kept me sane, kept me going and it made my world a much better place than it was in reality,” she has said of this time. “I chose to spend my time learning how to draw and paint and keep creating something beautiful amidst all the chaos and destruction.”

Producing the entire picture plane with the beautifully enthralling scenes, viewers are invited to completely immerse themselves into the kaleidoscopic imagery. Watching James and her assistant paint her mural in LeQuiVive’s wall before the opening of the show, it becomes readily apparent how meditative and introspective her process is. Each delicate texture, pattern, and figurative element is carefully and added alongside other equally intricate layers. Each time a new piece is added the subject retains the imperative balance in pattern, color, and size with the previous ensemble of elements. It is in this way by imitating the at once random and mathematically agreeable harmony that actually exists in nature that James creates the credibility of this fantastical world she brings to life.


Yellena James, “Radiance” will be on view at LeQuiVive Gallery, 1525 Webster St. through January 31, 2015