James Jean

Time and place collapse in masterfully-rendered dreamscapes.

Portrait view of James Jean with painting behind him
James Jean zoomed out working on huge painting against wall in studio
Close up of two James Jean sculptures set against a painting in background
7 images

James Jean was born in 1979 in Taipei, Taiwan, and moved to New Jersey, USA with his family at a young age. He now lives and works in Los Angeles.

Accolades

A Bronze Lion from Cannes Film Festival in 2018 and Grammy nomination for Best Packaging Design in 2008 - in addition to innumerable art world achievements - attest the artist’s far-reaching cultural cache.

Did you know?

Kendrick Lamar sported one of the artist's designs on the VMA’s red carpet in 2017, from a series of collaborations with Italian luxury fashion house Prada.

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Practice overview

Jean offers a modern take on Old Masters of East and West. The technical prowess of his compositions evoke that of the Renaissance painters, while reinterpretations of the Great Wave pay homage to the forefather of Japanese art, Hokusai. In stark contrast, the animated figuration recalls Manga, Anime and American comic-books, melding archaic and contemporary art histories of Europe and Asia. Alongside painting and drawing, Jean also creates sculpture, installation and stained glass, all in a heady palette that switches between intense digital hues and subdued Romantic tones.

His artwork has captured widespread attention in fine art and popular culture alike, with high-profile collaborations from Prada to Apple, a colossal digital following and representation by contemporary art icon, Takashi Murakami. Harnessing the power of symbolic and aesthetic juxtapositions, Jean explores cultural exchange, nostalgia and emotion. Inferno (2019) for example, is a subversive remake of Jigoku Zoshi, or Hell Scroll, a famous 12th century Japanese scroll painting. In it, a cluster of child-like creatures are ensnared by elongated blue flames reminiscent of umbilical cords - the creatures’ innocence set against the violence of their situation. At times joyus, at times sinister, Jean’s captivating compositions thwart notions of time and place, distilling eclectic references into enthralling fantasticism.

“I think the best paintings of mine are born from the deepest recesses of the mind, from dark and surprising places.”James Jean