James Nares is British born artist living and working in New York City since 1974. Nares makes paintings and movies (most notable being the No Wave Cinema classic Rome 78) and played guitar in the no wave group James Chance and the Contortions and with Jim Jarmusch in the Del-Byzanteens and was founding member of Colab. Nares attended the Chelsea Art School in London from 1972 to 1973. He later studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York from 1974 to 1976. Nares is best known as a contemporary art painter. His method involves repeated strokes that eventually create a precise representation.
He is known for employing single but intricate gestural brush strokes in most of his works. Grace Glueck, New York Times art critic, described the effect of Nares’s paintings as a combination of Japanese calligraphy and the 1960s cartoon works of Roy Lichtenstein. His Modernist paintings, done with brushes he personally designs, effectively capture and record motion and the passage of a moment on canvas.
Nares’s paintings have been prominently featured in films and videos focusing on a wide variety of artistic concepts such as, movement, artistic repetition, and rhythm. His work is exhibited in various museums in the United States, such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Albert-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, NY, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Some of his major solo exhibitions include 1976: Films and Other Works at Paul Kasmin Gallery, in New York in 2012, and Mixed Use, Manhattan: Photography and Related Practices 1970s to the present in 2010 at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, Spain.
Nares’s other solo exhibitions include New Paintings in 2004 at the Hamiltons Gallery in London, UK, and the New Paintings and Chronophotographs exhibition in 2005 at the Goss Gallery in Dallas, TX. His works were also featured in the Painting and Sculpture exhibition at the Lehman Maupin Gallery in New York City, in 2010. Rizzoli, a leading American publication, published a monograph dedicated to Nares’s works in 2013 that focuses on his contributions to the world of art in the past four decades.
Nares is represented by the Paul Kasmin gallery.
Nares was accorded artistic recognition by the Anthology Film Archives in 2008 for his film work. He made a series of short sculptural-related minimal art films, somewhat in style and interest to those of Richard Serra. In 1978 he released a well-known no wave 82 minute color Super-8 film entitled Rome 78, his only venture into feature-length, plot-driven film. The narrative is about the Roman emperor Caligula now set in a shabby 1978 downtown Manhattan apartment. As such, it proposes an analogy between ancient Rome and modern America as cultural empires. Despite its large cast in period costumes, the work is never made out to be a serious undertaking, with actors who interject scenes with self-conscious laughter, and deliver seemingly improvised lines with over the top bravado. The work features No Wave Cinema regular Lydia Lunch of Teenage Jesus and the Jerks along with artist David McDermott of McDermott & McGough as Caligula, James Chance, John Lurie, Eric Mitchell as a Roman general, Judy Rifka, Jim Sutcliffe, Lance Loud, Mitch Corber, Patti Astor, Anya Phillips as the Queen of Sheba and Kristian Hoffman, among others.
Nartes’ video “Street” (with a score composed by Thurston Moore), acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is the centerpiece for an exhibition he curated for the museum from their collection on the so-named theme. This exhibition ran from March 5 until May 27, 2013.