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SHANTI IS COMING TO TOWN




All artwork, text and images © James Straffon 2021.

A Rendezvous with Mrs Booth

A private commission, featuring the harbour at Margate, Kent; and its iconic lighthouse, juxtaposed by the Turner Contemporary Gallery,
which is housed on the former site of Mrs Booth's guesthouse, where Joseph Mallord William Turner once lodged.
Spray paint and acrylic on canvas.
70 x 90cm

All artwork, text and images © James Straffon 2021.

Ozu Tofu - the works

How's this vacuum cleaner?
Sorry I'm late.
Wind the clock. It's about to stop.
Would you happen to have a couple of extra tomatoes?
You mustn't become and old maid.
The green hue of the pines.

All artwork, text and images © James Straffon 2021.

Ozu Tofu

“I only know how to make tofu. . . ."
Ozu Tofu presents six servings of vanilla; as alternate cuts of cinematic environments - freeze frames, drawn from a moving object. More specifically, they each rework a single frame extracted from An Autumn Afternoon (Sanma no aji, 1962), the masterful epilogue created by one of the world’s most influential cinematic directors - Yasujirō Ozu (12 December 1903 – 12 December 1963).

Venerated for his seemingly economic approach to storytelling, both in terms of visual composition and narrative, exploration of Ozu’s oeuvre reveals a much more complex, and profoundly nuanced presentation of life, captured in a rapidly changing Japan. This somewhat philosophical mise-en-scène he modestly hid within the suggestion that his movies were simply tofu; either fried, boiled or stuffed. Ozu argued that he was fashioning movies which were unfancy, and ostensibly everyday. To that end, this humanistic approach categorises his pictures as shōshimin-eiga - realist depictions of mainstream normality. Latterly, he also touched on social commentary, overlapping traditional themes with contemporary drama - a style known as Gendai-geki.

The sextet of compositions comprising Ozu Tofu extract some of the emblematic and distinctive punctuation points for which the director was known. His ‘pillow shots’ would counter traditional advancement of film narrative - cutting between active scenes with a more or less still image - sustained over a sufficient count of time to facilitate contemplation; both of a relative and more existential nature. These intermediate pause points were deliberately fashioned by Ozu, as a means to enter meditative silence, forcing the viewer into introspective deliberation. In addition, the poetic meaning, and obsessive attention to detail layered within his film work, suggested a strong association with the Japanese concept of mono no aware, which roughly translates as the ‘pathos of things’ - this the beauty of impermanence; celebrating the transient splendour of the ephemeral.

As a set of minimalistic works; apropos the Director’s specific modus - simple, visual poetry, built from deeper philosophical ideals - Ozu Tofu exists in a flattened, paired-down tableau of three-dimensional space. They juxtapose the Japanese auteur’s own framing approach - of spatial and social divides, frames within frames (to some extent emotional metaphors of the ubiquitous Shoji screens) - with a deference to the later, geometric compositions of Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, and the graphic depictions of urban architecture painted by American artist Ed Ruscha, where the banality of urban life becomes elevated into the art of the everyday. Furthermore, employment of complex grids featuring actors, and the evolving storyline, allude to the multi-paned cartoon infrastructure of Manga comics.

For Ozu, it was not only framing that he focussed on, but colour, and more specifically red. An Autumn Afternoon is one of the six colour films, that he shot, using German Agfacolor film stock. This he preferred over the more widely used Eastman Kodak, as it pushed reds into a prominent spectral depiction. Takashi Kawamata, the chief assistant cinematographer for Ozu’s later films, suggested the Director favoured the ‘half-asleep’ chroma of Agfacolor. With a variety of strategically-placed objects of bold, sanguine toning, Ozu’s colour obsession even found its way into the movie’s script, as states one of the artwork’s titles - Would you happen to have a couple of extra tomatoes?

Embracing a defined set of colour hues, Ozu Tofu pushes a largely muted palette, periodically punctured by bursts of deliberately-placed crimson. These six pauses in the life of the fictional Hirayama family are recalibrated using a contemporary brush, each overlayed with a spectral trace of Ozu’s hand-written script notation; an ethereal presence within each and every serving of tofu; where simplicity can evoke notions of complexity, and still can become moving. As a meditation on time and space, these works suggest a conscious interruption; an attempt to capture the beauty hidden within the everyday; where each work’s title is in itself a subtitle, extracted from its proximity to the point of suspension.

All artwork, text and images © James Straffon 2021.

Shop

Selected from specific exhibitions, the tabs below provide an opportunity to own James Straffon original artworks, limited edition prints or published books.

Each connects to a new page, featuring detailed images, and pricing.
For buying enquiries and orders send an email HERE.


Thirty-five tales. 
A special limited edition print in aid of Farm Sanctuary - commemorating their thirty-fifth year.

Flood. A sign. 
With global warming set to hit to 3C, flooding will redraw the map of the world.

Don't Be Koi 
A limited edition print depicting the unbalanced tao of global water through dumped plastic and toxins.

Let's Stay Together [The Mandarin] 
A limited edition print.

URBAN FAUNA 
A limited edition print series featuring endangered animals placed on London walls.

Studio 54 
A series of vintage skate decks featuring icons of the New York club scene.

Pride and The Peacock 
A limited edition print.

On Yeah? Wham!  
A series of anchor tattoo artworks as part of the Coastal Chic project.


Seraph Series  
Angelic artworks on canvas,
for the wall or altar.
HARK #1-15  
A special series of hand sprayed
prints produced as part of
the Angels of Southwold project.

sKATE  
An iconic photograph of an acclaimed British fashion model repurposed.

When The Fox met The Rooster 
A limited edition print series taken 
from the sellout exhibition at
the British Embassy Luxembourg.
MITOLOGIA ITALIANA  
An exploration of the Italian
Cultural landscape; a work of 
fiction for modern times.

100e  
A unique collection of limited edition
prints celebrating the 100th edition of
the Tour de France [2013].
LE TOUR Book 
Published by Rapha racing, as a
lavish accompaniment to the
LE TOUR exhibition.

FAB66 
A concise suite of mixed media  artworks featuring significant  cultural icons from 1966.

The Blank Canvas 
The artist is available to create bespoke artworks to fit the client's desired brief.
If you have an idea for a street art piece, or personal commission for a portrait etc, send an email.

All artwork, text and images © James Straffon 2021.

Let's Stay Together [The Mandarin] - limited edition print


Let's Stay Together [The Mandarin].

Limited edition of 25. Signed.
Hahnemühle German Etching pigment print.
42 x 29cm.
[includes folder and postage]
£150



To purchase send an email shop@james-straffon.co.uk


All artwork, text and images © James Straffon 2021.

This little piggy...


Support Farm Sanctuary by buying a limited edition THIRTY-FIVE TALES print.

With thanks to Perkyns's
Neighbourhood coffee, craft beer and sandwich shop.
10 Vicarage Parade, West Green Road, London.




 



All artwork, text and images © James Straffon 2021.

Flood. A sign.


Flood. A sign.

Spray paint on metal street sign
75 x 86cm.
During the course of the twenty-first century, global sea levels are predicted to rise by up to 2 metres, possibly more. As a result, land occupied by 300 million people will fall below the elevation of an average annual coastal flood. By 2100, 200 million people could sit permanently below the high tide line.

The UN is warning that our planet is on course for 3C of global warming. This will ultimately redraw the map of the world. A key variable in this outcome will be how much heat-trapping pollution from human activities is dumped into the atmosphere, and how quickly the land-based ice sheets in Greenland and especially Antarctica destabilise. Another factor is widespread, intensive farming, which changes land cover by removing preexisting vegetation, thereby increasing the risk of flooding.

It is now widely accepted that extreme weather patterns, caused by long-term global climate change, make floods more likely. The science is impossible to ignore.

As global temperatures rise, there is significantly more energy in the Earth’s system. This amplified state results in higher air temperatures, which increase the possibility for evaporation and ultimately cloud formation. In this perfect storm scenario, the air is also able to hold more moisture content, which leads to an increase in precipitation intensity, duration and/or frequency.

"If you have more moisture in the atmosphere, the same rainfall systems rain harder - that is something we see globally. And that has a human greenhouse gas signal in it."
Professor Gabi Hegerl, University of Edinburgh.





All artwork, text and images © James Straffon 2021.

Flood. A sign.


Flood. A sign.

Spray paint on metal street sign
75 x 86cm.
£550 + postage

During the course of the twenty-first century, global sea levels are predicted to rise by up to 2 metres, possibly more. As a result, land occupied by 300 million people will fall below the elevation of an average annual coastal flood. By 2100, 200 million people could sit permanently below the high tide line.

The UN is warning that our planet is on course for 3C of global warming. This will ultimately redraw the map of the world. A key variable in this outcome will be how much heat-trapping pollution from human activities is dumped into the atmosphere, and how quickly the land-based ice sheets in Greenland and especially Antarctica destabilise. Another factor is widespread, intensive farming, which changes land cover by removing preexisting vegetation, thereby increasing the risk of flooding.

It is now widely accepted that extreme weather patterns, caused by long-term global climate change, make floods more likely. The science is impossible to ignore.

As global temperatures rise, there is significantly more energy in the Earth’s system. This amplified state results in higher air temperatures, which increase the possibility for evaporation and ultimately cloud formation. In this perfect storm scenario, the air is also able to hold more moisture content, which leads to an increase in precipitation intensity, duration and/or frequency.

"If you have more moisture in the atmosphere, the same rainfall systems rain harder - that is something we see globally. And that has a human greenhouse gas signal in it."
Professor Gabi Hegerl, University of Edinburgh.





All artwork, text and images © James Straffon 2021.

Let's Stay Together [The Mandarin]






All artwork, text and images © James Straffon 2021.