James Gasowski is an international painter who is mostly self-taught, learning through life experiences.
The thick textures and bold colors in his work come from his need to express himself, spiritually and emotionally.
His paintings and collage work, presented on both canvas and wood panels, are exhibited in a solo show at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance in San Luis Obispo through Dec. 5.
Gasowski’s life experiences that shape his work are personal, yet universal—he is a gay man who identifies with a broad, inclusive human experience.
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“His paintings — they all have a universal quality, not gay per se,” said Paul LaRiviere, curator at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance. “The purpose is to try to touch us as human beings, and art’s a vehicle for that; it’s another means of communication.”
Initially, Gasowski used geometrical abstraction, focusing on line and color. These days, he includes texture through thick paints and collage work.
It was during his time in Santa Fe, N.M., that he met LaRiviere through the art community.
“He’s a friend,” LaRiviere said, adding that when Gasowski moved West, “I thought it would be an opportunity to show his work.”
Gasowski has been based in Sacramento since 2013 and will be spending some time in San Luis Obispo during his show.
“With James’ art, he’s coming into more of a spiritual inner art,” LaRiviere said. “It’s abstract expressionism— he’s not drawing literal forms. They’re abstract and they resonate as far as who we are as people.”
“He’s had to reach into himself and do a lot of soul-searching,” LaRiviere added. “Showing the work of this gay artist, it’s reaching out to the community and saying, we’re part of (this population). We’re different but not that different.
“To every single gay person, there’s a process of identifying and coming to terms with who we are,” LaRiviere continued. “This is also a time for the community to resonate with these pieces. Gasowski, born in San Francisco in 1954, joined the military in 1972 and decided to become an artist while in the service. He started his education at San Francisco State University and then attended the Academy of Art in San Francisco.
He moved to Kiel, Germany, in 1980 and began to paint and study on his own. It was in Europe that his art became more personal and symbolic.
During the next 10 years, he traveled back and forth from Europe to California and New York developing and showing his art. In 1996, he moved to the American Southwest, settling in Santa Fe, and then in Truth or Consequences, N.M.