In his expansive new installation, Particles: A Painting in Ten Chapters, James Gouldthorpe explores the passage of time and the aggregation of the self over a lifetime. The artist projects forward into the future and reaches back into the past, mixing humor with melancholy as he explores birth, childhood, adolescence, middle and old age, and death, and reflects on both the poignant and absurd nature of existence.

Comprised of around two thousand individual mixed media paintings, Gouldthorpe developed Particles over a three-year period while an Irvine Fellow at the Lucas Artists Program. With this new body of work, he continues his ongoing investigation into the relationships between painting and narrative drawing on such diverse traditions as the graphic novel and realist painters’ depictions of modern American life.  ​

What are those moments that truly define us and comprise the murky substance of a human life? In what sense do we persist through our lifetime? In the end, do all our accumulated experiences leave a lasting impression in the universe? Or do the trillions of particles from which we are made simply untether from the gravitational pull of the self and rejoin the cosmos? 
 —James Gouldthorpe

Meet the Artist

​James Gouldthorpe received his BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, Maryland and studied painting at the Parson’s School of Design in Paris, France.  He received his MFA from Mills College in Oakland, California.  For the past fifteen years he has worked in the conservation lab at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Gouldthorpe has always been drawn to narrative and even at its most abstract his work suggests a plot.  His painted installations explore the boundaries between literature and visual art filling walls with hundreds of paintings, layered and editing until a compelling narrative begins to form.

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