Royal Processional, oil on panel, 24 x 48” ©Christensen
Sweet Parting, oil on panel, 18 x 24” ©Christensen
Yellow Rose, oil on canvas, 40 x 20” ©Christensen
Death and the Maiden, oil/panel, 12 x 12” ©Christensen
JAMES C. CHRISTENSEN
For those who know or who have studied with James, one thing becomes quite rapidly apparent. The artist’s keen sense of observation is equally matched by a disarming rapier wit. Whether in visual witticism or penetratingly sober observations of the human condition dressed up in buffoonish puns, Christensen plies his personal perspective for our joy and even amusement on one level. Then again, he presses our sense of “What is, and what should never be” or perhaps “What isn’t, but wouldn’t it be cool if it were” through layers of symbolism. One must recognize the importance of “story” in Christensen’s work - for much of it has at least some basis in stories or reference to legends from various cultures and time periods. The influence of Shakespearean England blends with renaissance sources. Both the ornately gowned subjects and the crackle of the paint surface lend an air of antiquity to the presentation. Yet upon closer examination, there are elements that simply could not be other than 21st century inclusions. The infusion of reality with fantasy (and vice versa) keep one in a frame of mind of discovery – a quest to connect the dots; to form the links of meanings suggested in these creations. When reflecting upon his work, Christensen suggests, “As you’ve probably guessed, knowledge and education are some of my favorite things. “
“When you see a fish in one of my paintings, it usually represents enlightenment or magic; in this particular context, in this temple of knowledge, fish stand for the magic of learning. The more I discover about the world, from biology to art history, the more enthralled I am with the magic that is human experience.”
“ One of the best things about art is that it can represent and communicate those things that would otherwise be incommunicable, especially concepts and abstractions like love and grief.”
“The common language is the key to the success of symbols. A symbol is worth nothing if its meaning cannot be understood, which is why things like hearts and skulls are so ubiquitous – they can be instantly identified as symbols of love and death. I use symbols frequently in my work, and while many of them are universal, others (like the hunchback [the everyman] and the checkerboard [life’s playing field]) are more personal. Layers of clothing represent self-importance, and earthly baggage, while boats represent the journey of life.”
Christensen’s art is prized in collections throughout the world. He has won multiple awards from the World of Science Fiction Convention and the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists, as well as the Utah Governor’s Medal for Fine Arts. He is the subject of five fine art books including Voyage of the Basset, plus the Personal Illumination Journal series, and his best-selling book, A Journey of the Imagination. In addition, the paintings of James and other graphic works are represented by Greenwich Workshop, Inc..
Christensen is a native of Culver City, California, and spent a good portion of his career as a professor of art at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. He retired from BYU some years ago to pursue freelance work from his home in Orem, Utah, and his cabin/studio near the Sundance ski resort in the nearby Wasatch mountains.
note: all images on this page © James C. Christensen - no reproduction or downloading permitted.
Angel with 3 Devils, oil on canvas, 36 x 48” ©Christensen