This past Sunday saw James Picard’s The Dark and The Wounded series hitting the city of LA again, and we were fortunate enough to attend. Words cannot fully describe what an incredible experience it was, but we’ll try our best here…
The exhibition was held at Hoover Street’s Casa de Rosas, an expansive compound originally built in 1893, now standing abandoned, boarded up, and looking quite ominous. Presumably that is exactly why James picked it as a venue. The exhibition was laid out so that the building was essentially an open house for us to explore – most rooms contained at least one or more pieces of art, giving the spooky impression that we were exploring a haunted house as well as walking through an art exhibition. For those of you that don’t know, the purpose of The Dark and The Wounded tour is to showcase said series of art at various abandoned (and needless to say, dark) locations, the idea being that the paintings/drawings interact with the environment that they are viewed in, creating a unique and powerful experience for the viewer. The exhibitions are also always accompanied by music - an incredible score written specifically for The Dark and The Wounded by Jeff Dana (a hugely talented composer, whose credits include The Boondock Saints, Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, and Silent Hill). If there ever was a cherry-on-top, then this is it. The music accompanies the art perfectly, generating an intense and eerie atmosphere like no other.
Of course, those that listened to our interview with James already know this – if you would like to catch up a little before reading on, then check out our mixcloud player below!
First, a little more about Casa de Rosas: the building has passed through numerous owners over time, and has been used for various purposes, ranging from a WWII military barracks to a women’s homeless shelter. Most notably, however, it also acted as the headquarters for L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics Foundation for a while. And here’s where it gets interesting (or funny): apparently, L. Ron Hubbard was seriously creeped out by the building. Yes, even Hubbard – a man who certainly lacks no creepiness himself – was scared. Well, what better place to showcase The Dark and The Wounded, than a place that scares even scary people?
It should be noted that James generally paints and draws completely from imagination (I use that word loosely here, since what he sees in his mind is far more than mere “imagination” – I’d go as far as saying it’s a type of sixth sense). The point is, unless it’s a portrait of a live person, there usually isn’t a reference to draw from – well, other than his mind and photographic memory. If you’ve seen some of his work, you’ll know that this is an AMAZING feat. Realistic still-life paintings that look like they were painted from actual still life; drawings that look like copies of photos; huge canvases depicting countryside scenes or ocean views: yes, these all came from his head. I still cannot get my own head around that. Add to that the speed and dexterity with which he paints, and I think you’ll quickly come to the conclusion that this man is an absolute genius.
A quick note on the sixth sense idea, here’s a fun little anecdote, as told to us by James himself. Back in 2014, The Dark and The Wounded was exhibited at Rolling Hills Asylum (East Bethany, NY). During his time there, James drew a detailed picture of a rather anguished-looking young lady, another image procured from his mind. What’s extremely interesting, however, is that an acquaintance of his ended up finding a story regarding a nurse that had worked at the asylum back in the ‘50s. The article was accompanied by a photograph and, yes, you’ve guessed it: the photograph of the nurse looked exactly like James’ drawing. (In fact, this is not the only time something like this has happened, e.g. we discussed a similar “ghost girl” incident in our interview.)
His art tells stories, and The Dark and The Wounded specifically tells stories of the darkness and sadness that dwells amongst all of mankind. It is an exploration of emotion and pain, laid bare to us in a way that many have even found uncomfortable. His pictures really do speak a thousand words, and the eyes of his subjects often express such intense emotion, it becomes difficult to look away.
To those currently lamenting their own fate and lack of such skill, hoping that James Picard at least is a social recluse or an awkward weirdo, I’m sorry to burst your bubble: James Picard is also a ridiculously lovely and super-cool guy. Honestly one of the warmest and nicest persons we have had the pleasure of meeting.
I highly recommend attending at least one of James events if you get the chance – the experience is truly unique, and will no doubt leave you amazed, emotionally-charged, and perhaps even scared (in a good way). And if you live in Europe, do not fret! The tour will also be visiting some cities across the pond very soon.
For more information, check out, “James Picard: Off The Canvas,” a great little documentary about James and his incredibly talents.
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