Taymour Grahne Projects is pleased to invite you to the opening of Life Without Night, the first UK solo show by New York-based artist James Bartolacci, opening on Jun. 19 from 3-6 PM. (Holland Park)
The exhibition draws from Bartolacci’s personal experience of queer nightlife in New York City prior to the pandemic, as well as current and ongoing scenes staged in friends’ bedrooms, which evoke the ambience, intimacy and intensity of New York’s queer nightclubs. Filling the gallery with new oil paintings, Life Without Night asserts how such venues and spaces provide meaningful parameters for solidarity, social affinity and self-affirmation.
Believing nightlife is an art form in itself, Bartolacci honours the production of an evening out with each work. Dance scenes featuring hedonistic figures as they move under a cloak of neon lighting are produced by digitally collaging photographs and videos to encapsulate a variety of moments from a single night. Recreated in oil painting, each work captures a specific place and date; in The Spectrum Closing Party, Bartolacci transports us to the night that Brooklyn queer nightclub Spectrum finally closed its doors. A pillar of alternative queer nightlife in New York City, Spectrum offered both salvation and escapism to its residents. Here, Bartolacci places the same emphasis on the relationship between clubbing and belonging, with figures embraced by their luminescent nocturnal surroundings.
In more abstracted scenes Bartolacci has somewhat erased the figure, highlighting the voids also found in club gatherings. Whilst we catch subtle glimpses of a bodily presence, Bartolacci instead focuses our attention on the club interior, the colour saturated lighting and pulsating atmosphere. In doing so, he evokes the myriad of emotions found within these spaces: joy, ecstasy, comfort, release, intoxication, desire, arousal, but also rejection, sadness, and loneliness.
Finally, a series of paintings staged in friends’ bedrooms is a continuation of work featured in Bartolacci’s recent online exhibition with Taymour Grahne Projects. In response to the closure of club venues during the pandemic, Bartolacci uses the bedroom as an ersatz setting to stage intimate and evocative scenes with friends. Exploring the significance of self-styling, these scenes are constructed collaboratively with the sitter; friends are requested to choose an outfit, lighting conditions and pose, meanwhile discussing the personal value and importance of the city’s nightlife. Offering an expanded insight into each person through their bedroom ephemera, the works gesture to the labour and devotion involved in creating a nocturnal look.
A portion of the sales will be donated to The Outside Project in London, which is a LGBTQI+ shelter and centre that runs a COVID relief fund.
James Bartolacci (b. 1988) received his MFA in Painting and Printmaking from the Yale School of Art in 2020 and has since exhibited in group and solo exhibitions at Galerie Perrotin and Taymour Grahne Projects. Bartolacci was born in Easton, PA and currently lives and works in Queens, New York City.