When James Michalopoulos paints a subject, he peels away the veneer of visible spectrum to reveal the essence beneath. Colors surge and pulsate under the impasto surface; still lifes are anything but. The French countryside erupts into near abstraction. Urban landscapes twist in time but don’t decay; a building isn’t rendered so much as its spirit is revealed. This is more than a painting; it is sculpting light with paint. A Michalopoulos painting is psychohistory in pigment.
Written by Bradley Sumrall, Curator at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art
Certain places in this world are forever tied in the mind of the viewer to the artists that depicted them, as if the spirit of the location is part of the artist, and the spirit of the artist is imbued into the very fabric of the landscape.
by William Pittman Andrews • Executive Director, Ogden Museum of Southern Art
The following interview was conducted by William Pittman Andrews, Executive Director of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and the artist James Michalopoulos in his Elysian Fields Avenue studio in New Orleans on January 3, 2017.
by Kevin Grogan • Director, The Morris Museum of Art • Augusta, Georgia
Since its founding, New Orleans has grown as an unusually cosmopolitan place. Its diversity today can be seen in the many distinct neighborhoods from the Riverbend to the Ninth Ward; from Gentilly to the French Quarter—people in exotic combinations, often in exotic costumes, everywhere at all hours; speaking in accents that have marinated together over time and from all corners.
Megan Valentine • Curator and Registrar, Alexandria Museum of Art
Despite the fact that he studied painting at the New Orleans Academy and University of New Orleans, James Michalopoulos considers himself a “a self-taught artist who never stopped learning.” His mindset comes through in his work, as he does not treat his subjects with the scholarly pretense of many artists.
I’ve been asked to share some thoughts on my life and work. This is always confronting, as I prefer to approach these questions casually. I do, however, welcome an opportunity like this. It’s an opportunity to self define; to declare myself.
At the time of this writing we are approaching the year 2000. For a brief portion of that time the United States has struggled to define its place in the art world—taking the Western European tradition that overshadowed our early formation and adding the Eastern, Caribbean, African and Native influences present in our culture today. Fashion and context cycled Romantic, Minimalist, Primitive and Naturalistic movements in and out of favor in various combinations.