james fowler abstract art – let’s chat!

posted by the scholar on February 14th, 2008
filed under: art, let's chat!, paintings


look at these abstract paintings from canadian artist james fowler. the obsessive compositions are intricately crafted and orderly and are softened by the vibrant color palettes. unlike piet mondrian, the king of neo-plasticism, these pieces are less rigid with their looser lines, and break from the traditional exclusive use of primary colors. however, similar to others in the cubist-inspired movement, they tell graphic horizontal and vertical stories, which in turn create mazes in my mind. as my eye traces those details that twist and wind around, a gateway to mysterious stories opens that i could spend hours trying to unravel. let’s have a chat with james and find out a bit more!



q: where do you work?
a: i have a studio on queen street west, in toronto. it’s the birthplace of all that is cool in toronto.


q: what is your background, and did you study art formally?
a: i was not formally trained in art. my great grandfather was a commercial graphic designer and a water colour hobbyist, my grandmother also paints so i was born with a silver paintbrush in hand. by age six, i was doing paint by numbers adequately and by the time i was in the ninth grade i had surpassed the standard value exercises others were doing, and was stretching 4′ x 8′ canvases. i turned to the film for university and abandoned art for the film industry for many years. by 2002 though, i had had enough of the “type a” personalities in the industry, and after a friend asked me what i would do if i could never paint again, my path became pretty clear.



q: are your pieces made using acrylic paint exclusively or do you use some other types of media?
a: i’ve been thinking of switching over to oils. i’m currently working in acrylics, but also have another line of art that uses men’s business shirts and plaster in a low lever relief to tell stories of relationship.


q: how large are these pieces and what is their price range?
a: the pieces range from 8″ x 12″ to the largest (to date), 4′ x5′, but i’ve painted 3′ x 7′ pieces too. i do a lot of commission work and the work ranges from $300 to $2500 with the majority being 22″ x 30″ on paper unframed for $550 – relatively inexpensive in the art world.



q: what is your inspiration and message you want to send through these elaborately patterned pieces in these expressive color palettes?
a: i’m fascinated with the business world and what makes a strong capital market, what buildings are made of and what builds a city, who designs them and what makes good human traffic flow. i am also inspired by ancient decorative arts with a high level of craftsmanship, such as early chinese dynasty pots. there is something about steel and iron in molds too that is compelling, that frequently are used in the construction of cities or automobiles.

basically the collection consists of imagined cities from above, using color palettes to give a feeling of place or season or mood (winter in new york, paris in the spring, lost in the city, california, etc.) i’ve been doing the cities now for a while but i’m really encouraged from the attention my work has been gathering in the last six months. the work is also a lot about cities and traffic movement, about balance, a tough mix. i like to spend a lot of time away from the work and add in squares in fits and starts.





q: are you currently exhibiting in any shows or is there any other meaningful information you would like to mention?
a: you can see my work in the march 2008 issue of canadian house and home magazine, the special condos issue. it can also be viewed at toast restaurant and in stores on queen street east in leslieville. my new website is up, and i have a flickr stream as well.

thank you james!


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27 Responses to “james fowler abstract art – let’s chat!”

  1. technabob Says:

    I think they look like giant Google Maps, but much cooler.

  2. the scholar Says:

    hi bob,

    yes! they do look like google maps, but i like james’ interpretation much better.

    thanks for the visit!

  3. paula Says:

    wonderful post….the art is interesting and fun and love the interview.
    these feel very satellite like, inspirational and exciting!

  4. the scholar Says:

    hi paula,

    glad you like it! couldn’t you just get lost in the grids?

    actually the piece san francisco (second photo underneath the plaster work) was inspired by one of those satellite photographs. good call!

    thanks for stopping by!

  5. Kelly Says:

    what fabulous work, i love it. very fun and fresh.

  6. the scholar Says:

    hi kelly,

    ooh! so glad you like it too! it’s fresh and detailed and modern and different – just the way we like it!

    always glad 2 c u!

  7. Jason Says:

    I really enjoy the concept of the city from above. It is both inventive, innovative and creative. Quite frankly, it is hard these days to have art work mean something, especially abstract. James has really captured the essence of a season, a city, and most importantly a feeling. James has made us feel while looking at art again. Not an impression, or an idea…a real feeling. I appreciate it for not being fake, showy, and pretentious. I also really like the fact that it is simple and complicated at the same time. Simple in it’s message, and complicated in it’s intricacy and detail.

  8. the scholar Says:

    hi jason,

    yes! you took the words right out of my mouth, if i were smart enough to have had them in there in the first place! 🙂

    modern interiors and modern art leave a lot of people cold, but this collection by james straddles the line. it is inviting in its intricacies and palettes, but still remains contemporary. a very fine line indeed.

    i love what you have said too about simple v. complicated. it is expressive without being obvious or too dramatic. i think when you need to be told what the art means, then it loses its meaning. that doesn’t happen here. these pieces are loose enough so people will enjoy the idea of unraveling them. and isn’t that the point?

    thank you for the visit and the very insightful comment!

  9. Pav Says:

    This is truly AMAZING . I think I could stare at the first one for ages. I’m such a colour-holic.

  10. the scholar Says:

    hi pav,

    i know you love the color from your wonderful blog. maybe someday we will have a chai together and see these paintings in person!

    nice to see you again! 🙂

  11. mikelite Says:

    Spectacular! I love abstract art. I just fall face-first into it and lose all track of time & space. thanks for sharing!

  12. the scholar Says:

    hellooo mike,

    yay! so happy that you like it too! these are the types of paintings you could stare at for a really looooong time.

    thanks for stopping by!

  13. sosser Says:

    great interview. i could stare at these all day…

  14. the scholar Says:

    seriously sosser wouldn’t it be great to see these in person?

    thanks for the visit!

  15. Kim Says:

    Wonderful work. I like the way you work with color, shape and line. The depth you achieve with the simplicity of shape draws me in easily.

    I will be exploring this blog more.

  16. the scholar Says:

    hi kim,

    james makes great art doesn’t he? and you are absolutely right about the depth of his pieces.

    thanks for the visit!

  17. krista kilian Says:

    My favourite is the wind turbine green one… when you talk to James about it, he reveals that the name is doubly symbolic (ask him) and that the lines in the background represent the power grid… very cool.

  18. the scholar Says:

    hi krista,

    yes! that piece (in the photo james is standing in) is called chloris field and was commissioned by the ontario power authority for their corporate offices – he just finished it! it is a cool textural departure from his paintings (but still very much consistent in theme with the others).

    so glad to hear you enjoy his art too – thanks for stopping by!

  19. imi Says:

    very hundertwasseresque.
    I like it.

  20. the scholar Says:

    hello imi,

    i see what you are saying here. i think there is some similarity between the two, in that falling into/getting lost in patterns type of feeling.

    glad you like it and thank you for the visit! 🙂

  21. Jim Morana Says:

    I like this work a lot. It seems to have order and dynamics. Very cool.

  22. Rachel x Says:

    Hia, I think James work is very original and you could just get lost in the maze of colour. And the way he has turned satellite photographs into amazing artwork it’s fantastic. I wounder if James has always been an artist? x

  23. olivia Says:

    hi james! i love your work!! even though im only 12 i visit your website almost everyday to motavate me into my work! I found you website one day and the colors just wrapped around me like a blanket and took me in. Your colors are so, so indecribeable! you are the whole reason i started painting! painting didnt work but i tried even harder to be like you! So i drew. Now because of you im an artist! Please mail me back i’ve been trying to get the nerve to talk to one of my biggest heros! if you dont understand why you are my hero then you probally have never seen your work!!Thank you so much!!!
    your BIG fan Olivia

  24. Charli Says:

    I LOVE these, they are exactly the kind of thing i would love some of my doodles to turn into, except these are a lot better of course!
    I’m doing an art project at school and decided to base mine on abstract art and the art of doodling because it’s something that really fascinates me. We have to include an artist reference and i think i just found mine1 Are there any other pieces by James??

  25. Aaron Says:

    This perfect ABSTRACT!!! What does it means?

  26. Mike Robson Says:

    Stumbled on your web site and saw these amazing works. Using them in class to teach about how abstract art communictaes ideas and also with an older group who are doing a project on the theme the city I am using them as example of how a subject can be explored and expressed in representative and non representative ways. Great q and A with the artist to. Greatstuff, thanks v much!!

  27. microsoft office 2013 keygen download Says:

    Amazing! Its really amazing paragraph, I have got much clear idea concerning from this piece of writing.

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