James Bartolacci was (b. 1988) Easton, PA and currently lives and works in Queens, New York City. He received his MFA in Painting and Printmaking from the Yale School of Art in 2020.
James Bartolacci’s work draws from personal experiences of queer nightlife in New York City. Common themes in his paintings include desire, longing, and self-styling. Highly saturated colors combined with an emphasis on lighting conditions create charged atmospheres that evoke the revelry and escapism of a night out.
Paintings begin with thin layers of oil paint that are applied straight from the tube or mixed beforehand. Each layer is a glazing, and slowly built up over time until optimum saturation is achieved. The gradual process is in stark contrast with the dynamism of the scene and the briefness of the night depicted. More than just places for dancing and pleasure, the bars and clubs in his paintings become anchors for connection and personal expression.
Upon graduating, Bartolacci exhibited with Galerie Perrotin via their online viewing salon. Envisioned and executed by Yale’s Painting and Printmaking MFA class, the show explored ideas around a more equitable ecosystem for contemporary art. This was followed by a solo, online show with Taymour Grahne Projects, where Bartolacci exhibited a series of pastel drawings responding to the closure of nightlife during the pandemic.
Featured in articles by Artsy, Observer and the New York Times. Bartolacci was most recently interviewed by Something Curated in 2021 - talking in length about the influence of NYC’s queer nightlife, and vivid representations of colours within his own work.
In the summer of 2021, Bartolacci opened his first UK solo show in London at Taymour Grahne Projects. Entitled 'Life Without Night', the exhibition filled the gallery with an array of new oil paintings. Scenes of the bedrooms, became a setting to stage real life scenes with friends where the anticipation of a night out was been explored at a time where many night club venues are closed. Other paintings transported us to the night that Brooklyn queer nightclub Spectrum finally closed its doors. A pillar of alternative queer nightlife in New York City, where salvation and escapism were offered to its residents.
Bartolacci also exhibited in 'Contemporary Domesticity', a group show featuring 28 artists at Taymour Grahne Projects in April. Previous group shows include at WorkPlace Gallery (UK), The Hole (NY) and Westbeth Gallery (NY).