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James Burpee

James' recent work (most often without horizon lines) is a fascinating maze of light, form, reflection and movement.  His earlier work uses allegory and human forms.

From James Burpee:

I have two genres of paintings on view.  The paintings prior to year 2000 mostly contain human figures and range from social commentary, allegory, and personal experience. These paintings are rigorously composed and attempt to create a strong mood or feeling.  Typically there is a narrative in them.  The book of my work available in the gallery shows many more of these works.


The paintings from nature after the year 2000 were part of a healing process which the peace and solitude of nature gave me.  They are intimate rather than postcard vistas.   By looking down at my feet I found the extraordinary in what could be seen as ordinary.  While they are almost exactly what I saw, they are composed in a way which heightens the rhythms of color and other visual elements. They are images of serene  and lyrical places done with vitality, accurate observation, improvisation, luminosity, and order.


Like jazz and classical music, the formal qualities are not ends in themselves but focussed on creating a feeling about what is seen, and importantly, the art of painting itself.  They are paintings not just pictures. They are an integration of differences and my idea of beauty. Basic to my form concept is the tension between an illusion of depth and the composition and texture on the surface.

James lives and works in the Minneapolis area.  He has taught college level painting and drawing for 48 years including at The Minneapolis College of Art & Design and the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.  His work is in numerous public and private collections from Portugal to New York to Hawaii.  Many of his nature paintings are in medical facilities in the Twin Cities, and in other collections such as Federal Reserve Bank, 3M Corporate Headquarters, Dorsey & Whitney law firm, Target and the U of M Boynton Health Center.  He has been an artist in residence in Southern France and Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island.  He is now retired from teaching and continues his practice of painting.  He has had numerous one person and collective exhibitions. 

A short video from our Curator on James Burpee's landscape paintings:

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