Sculptures in paint
There is nothing meek or ambiguous about a charging elephant especially when the tusker in question appears to be lunging off a canvas from South African painter James Stroud. His vivid wildlife portraits are so different from the flat surfaces of most sporting art they could be described as sculptures of paint. A topo map is almost required to navigate through his sense canyons of texture and rivers of color.
And it is no exaggeration to say that Stroud, who made a hugely successful debut in North America at Safari Club International’s 2007 convention, takes an elbow deep approach to laying down oil. Whether he is pushing paint thickly with a palette knife or using other tools including his hands to achieve distinctive visual effects such as portraying dust on a Cape Buffalo, the spots on a leopard’s coat or the flowing mane of a lion. Stroud has won praise from collectors for making his subjects actually look – and feel – true to life.
“It excites me that someone is able to look at the animal image and be seduced by it, and then be able to look more closely at the paint itself and understand the actual physiology of the illusion,” Stroud says. Still, the dilemma for contemporary nature painters Stroud explains, lies with deciding how to celebrate the environment and iconic African species without falling into the trap of confirming old visual clichés . “I see my work as an attempt to both affirm the natural beauty of the visual world and at the same time to dissect the assumptions that we have about what great art is supposed to be.”
A South African native, he grew up on a timber plantation in eastern Mpumalanga on the wild edge of Kruger Park. On a primal level, he had a front row seat to predators and prey. Mpumalanga was a crossroads for international hunters and photographers. Sketching both people and animals, Stroud went to a rural school where Afrikaans was the first language and English the second
However, the most important aspect of Stroud’s work is the uniqueness and originality of the style and medium. Often referred to as the LeRoy Neiman of wildlife art, he has taken his work further creating sculptural paintings in more true-to-life light and color.
James was born in 1970 in the Eastern Transvaal town of Graskop. It was at a very young age that he became aware of his artistic talent, and thus chose art as a subject at school until matric (1987).
In 1990 he graduated from Natal University with a BA in Fine Art and History of Art as subjects. He undertook various inspirational gallery tours to London and Edinburgh in 1991, to New York and Rome in 1993 and to Egypt in 1995. Stroud started his profession doing mainly ceramics and in 1994 he started painting seriously.
A year later he was privileged to be selected by the Pretoria Art Museum to exhibit as an up and coming artists. The biggest banking group in Africa, ABSA, acquired of his works for their collections.
James Stroud is an outdoor person and has developed an unique eye for nature and in parallel with this, he has a real quest to place his interpretation of what he sees on canvas. His landscapes and animal studies with the distinctive broad Stroud strokes extrude the creative energy of his artistic passion. Stroud is inspiring, his art is an experience.
Unfortunately, James Stroud’s work is virtually unobtainable in South Africa today. He supplies and is represented by a number of prestigious galleries in the USA. he sells almost exclusively abroad.
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