Shamanistic guidance enhanced with ancient archetypes, James Hammons' self taught art is a mystical wonderland of color and character. "Enchantism" is his genre, for he feels enchantment is the oldest form of healing.
"Let's take a magical trip back to that which made us whole."
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Palm Springs Life Magazine, Palm Springs, California
MONA DE CRINIS MAY 1, 2016
James Hammons says his work like "Tender is the Night," is inspired by Jungian archetypes.
In a land where Joshua trees minister like prophets — arms outstretched in a frozen embrace — and boulders pyramid skyward in sublime veneration, muses ride Harleys and creativity lives in the space between shadow and light. There are no limits to artistic expression in the Hi-Desert; the canvas is as wide and open as the terrain itself. Here, artists who teeter on the fringe of convention find comfort in like minds and the freedom to serve only one master: the authentic self.
“I feel like artists have become indentured slaves to the galleries,” says artist James Hammons, sitting at a corner table in Natural Sisters Cafe in Joshua Tree. “There’s a natural censorship to capitalism. Up here, there’s an edge you don’t find down below [in the Coachella Valley]. You can live for a lot less and do things you normally might not do, because you don’t have to paint or draw to the crowd.”
Hammons’ art hangs on the cafe’s walls in vivid testimony to the creative liberty he enjoys. Primitive drawings emboldened by bright colors characterize much of his work, which Hammons says is inspired by Jungian archetypes and “a cave wall 10,000 years ago.” A recent work titled “January” depicts a mermaid, the mythological temptress (or “nixie” in Jung’s vernacular) known to lure men to watery deaths, enjoying a moment to herself as she bathes in a desert hot spring. The artist’s favored medium is “whatever makes it work,” including conventional materials such as oil and acrylic paints to sand, Indian ink, and even nail polish.
Hammons, who moved to Joshua Tree 14 years ago, often spends entire days hunkered down in remote corners of Joshua Tree National Park waiting for the stimuli that will spark his next creation. “The light almost penetrates you,” he says. “The subjects I’m looking at, they glow. It’s like a psychedelic experience, but without drugs.” If he sees something during his meditative foray in the desert, Hammons lets it simmer within. If he’s meant to transpose the experience into art, he receives a visual message encouraging him to paint. “The color scheme and the main focal point come into focus, and I mark it,” he says. “The line or curve that starts the process, that first stab into the luminescent realm, is the transition of an entity ready to fall off a cliff. That’s the moment I want, because it’s the perfect moment.”
Hammons believes that the environment — all that you see, hear, smell, touch, and everyone you meet — delivers an experience removed from the self-induced monotony of daily living. “Sometimes, I’ll go out into the park, far away from the touristy sections, and sit for 12 hours, and I won’t move,” he says. “Every single moment is magical, only we don’t recognize it because we’re so used to it. You can live a lifetime in five minutes, if you let yourself. It’s like diving into a pool of God.” #gallery #art store
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