Daily Art Moment: James Lavadour

Mandatory, James Lavadour, 17 ¾ x 13 1/8, color monotype on paper. A vertical rectangular print showing a red, armless figure, just right of center, against a background of smudged, scraped and blended earth tones. The figure has the suggestion of a head, its outline incised in the paint revealing the cream-colored base below. The ribs, torso, pelvis, and the legs are covered in a sheer wash of the red color that fades away at the bottom along with the lower legs and feet of the figure. The red color arcs from the figure’s head to the left becoming a muddier brown and continues off the work. The figure is placed on a background of earthy brown paint tones which look as if they have been scraped, moved, and manipulated by palette knives and brushes. The effect is sharper, harsher, and darker at the bottom of the monotype and more blended, softer, and lighter at the top half. The right edge of the print from top right to lower right darkens to very deep brownish black.

“Those familiar with the work of renowned Oregon artist James Lavadour (Walla Walla, b. 1951) may be surprised to encounter this expressive and figurative monotype. Lavadour is best known for his passionate and richly hued paintings, drawn from his experience of the lands near his home on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. Earlier in his career, human figures appeared throughout his work, often with skeletal or animalistic features. This figure is more of a suggestion of a human body, armless but with head, ribs, and belly visible. The red form seems to be dramatically engulfed in flames that rise above and to the left of the frame as if pushed by the wind. The chaos of this dramatic scene is underscored by the swirling dark pigment that serves both as a ground or foundation for the figure and indicates the hand of the artist who created this tormented scene. Although this monotype was produced over twenty-five years ago, the presence of fire and turmoil in our lives today makes this work especially apt.”

Kathleen Ash-Milby, Curator of Native American Art

James Lavadour (American and Umatilla, born 1951). Untitled, 1996. Color monotype on paper. The Vivian and Gordon Gilkey Graphic Arts Collection, 1998.46.658 © James Lavadour

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