Artist James Jean is known for his meticulous puzzle-like paintings and illustrations, and the mysterious themes that wind their way through his work. His photography is an extension of this — another outlet for his storytelling and another opportunity to manipulate our sense of reality. From having spoken to him before, I know he enjoys the process of uncovering truths and obscuring them, and carefully re-framing fleeting moments of everyday life.
Of the images here, he says:
“I’m addicted to making images. Sometimes the image takes the form of a drawing or painting. Sometimes it’s a photograph. I love manipulating an image and composing it until it feels just right. When I’m drawing or painting, I go through an arduous process of editing, of pushing and pulling elements until it achieves a feeling of both movement and repose.
This process happens much more quickly when I take a picture, and the editing takes place almost exclusively on my phone. The convenience of the phone allows me to indulge my addiction anywhere, anytime. Consequently, I always have a camera with me, and I’m always waiting until my eyes settle upon something of interest.
Sometimes, I don’t know why the subject is interesting, but I take the photo anyway and discover the reason after the fact – for instance, an odd arrangement of color or surprising symmetry that I didn’t consciously see at first. The unexpected – that’s probably the simplest distillation of what I’m seeking.”