James Kent
Contemporary Artist

Biography and artist statement for New Jersey based contemporary abstract artist James Kent.

I have always been creative.  Born in Texas, I grew up in a small town in northeast Ohio near the shore of Lake Erie.  Creative interests - art, music, and photography - were favored parts of my life from an early age.  After receiving a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics from Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio and a Master's in Operations Research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I settled in New Jersey in 1981 upon accepting a position as a telecommunications analyst with Bell Laboratories.  As my time became crowded with the demands and diversions of adult life, I realized that my creative side was not as close to the surface of my life as it had been, and I missed that.  So I decided to begin making changes that would ultimately allow me to create art full time.  In early 1994, I left Bell Communications Research and immersed myself in painting for more than a year.  I returned to the telecommunications industry, finally retiring from AT&T in late 2013.  Now, I balance my time painting in my New Jersey studios in Oceanport and Mount Holly, teaching abstract painting, and managing my art gallery.

More than a decade ago, I moved away from geometric constructed paintings to painting in the lyrical abstract expressionist style.  For me, this has been a way to expand my artistic language and revel in the possibilities of paint.  The paintings are “non-representational”, meaning they are not meant to portray anything in the world we see around us.  They require careful study on the part of the viewer, not just a quick glance.  A long look will reveal details, textures, and perhaps the evocation of an object or a landscape. 

For several years, my paintings have followed the fundamentally landscape-based abstract expressionist direction pioneered by artists such as Richard Diebenkorn.  This has provided me with much inspirational territory.   My recent work reflects a growing restlessness with working only in paint.  Studying the works of Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, I have begun to explore using collage elements – everything from magazine and newspaper clippings to various found objects – to enrich the painted surface.  These recent paintings are less referential to the landscape and more evocative of urban existence.  They generally exhibit a large, somewhat centrally located “calm” space surrounded by borders filled with visual activity that is “edgy” and graffiti-like.

In 2007 I opened ABstract EXpressions Contemporary Art Gallery in Mount Holly, New Jersey as a venue for showcasing contemporary abstract art.  Visit the Gallery's website:  www.abstractexpressionsgallery.com.

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