Jim Houser is an American artist who combines lifestyle, experiences, and visual art into the creation of a personal iconography. Comprised of acrylic paintings on canvas and wood, his works are bold and symbolic: in blood reds and cool blues, images of severed heads and pill cases radiate anxiety, while elsewhere a drummer sits meditatively on the edge of a black pond. By arranging the paintings into installations, Houser narrates an inner dialogue that explores the interrelated joys and challenges of living, speaking to us through his art in poetic and metaphoric ways.
The images featured here are from his current exhibition called HUSH, featured at Andenken/Battalion in Amsterdam starting June 5th. In a recent interview with Hyland Mather, the owner of Andenken/Battalion, Houser explains his personal motivations in the creation of his art, beginning when he was a child:
I like that my art making is therapeutic for me. What is inspiring to me is that it contains a problem that never completely solves itself: me. From childhood on, I’ve used art to escape my reality, to help me define or explain my reality, and to meditate on my reality. […] I sort of lucked into it, making art. I was just as happy drawing as a kid as I was throwing rocks at cars. Anything to get out of my own head for a bit, skateboarding, taking drugs, all that stuff does the same thing to varying degrees of success, but luckily for me I was wired to have art making be the thing that quieted me down the most on the inside. (Source)
Scattered throughout Houser’s eye-catching colors, geometric forms, and clever assemblages are artifacts suggestive of personal means of “escape” — the pill cases and skateboard, for example. The simplicity and fearlessness of these images speaks to Houser’s brilliant distillation of life into one symbolic plane; in a holistic, meditative practice, he has arranged his personal story in a way that is courageously honest. As viewers, Houser’s works inspire us to imagine how we would visually narrate our lives, using pictorial language to explore emotions and unique personal histories.