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Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks. Simonides

James Coquia

James Coquia

James was born in Oakland, CA, November 14, 1972. After serving four years in the United States Marine Corps (1992- 1996), he returned to the bay area and enrolled at the local community college. He had aspirations of expressing his creativity through painting, but decided that to more well round himself as an artist, he would take every studio art class that was offered there. Near simultaneously he tried his hand at everything from photography to multi-media sculpture, printmaking to digital imaging. Most struck a meaningful chord with him but none so much as when he first touched his hands to clay. By his own admission the introduction sounds a little cliché, but something magical happened that day, a kind of sympathetic symbiosis. The material was alive and in its way spoke to him, so tenderly that it cemented an indelible relationship between the two. There seemed to be a mutual understanding that together each made the other one better.
His introduction to ceramics took the form of back to back classes, one emphasizing the wheel, the other on hand built sculpture. For the next several years he remained singularly focused on the cultivation of that relationship. As he explored deeper into the multi-faceted medium, opportunities would present themselves, opportunities that could neither be ignored nor denied. True to his adventurous spirit, James followed the opportunities regardless of where they took him physically. They eventually lead to numerous positions at prominent public and private institutions. As a studio assistant and apprentice, he was fortunate enough to assist and learn first hand from a number of ceramics most eminent artists. As lab technician he had the opportunity to hone his skills at glaze calculation and kiln firing.
James continues to divide his creative energies between what he now refers to as the utilitarian object and the humanistic object. Having spent a significant amount of time in Japan and Asia, eastern sensibilities have manifested in his art. The masterworks of the Japanese Momoyama period, the quiet aesthetics of shibui, the philosophy of wabi and sabi, Chanoyu (the Japanese tea ceremony), all have greatly influenced every aspect of his ceramic work. Equally, coming from a painting background, some of his earliest heroes included: Odd Nerdrum, Egon Schiele, Lucian Freud, Frida Kahlo and Pablo Picasso. It seemed a natural transition to include the human figure into his ceramic repertoire. The organic is his fundamental teacher. James finds much of his inspiration from elements of the natural world: the subtle nuances of a seed pod, the dendritic patterning in leaves, the supple quality of eucalyptus bark, the way flesh folds. These are but a few of nature's gifts that drive his creative spirit.
James believes that everything on this planet shares a commonality, that everything is connected to everything else, and his work is simply an exploration of that belief.

Artist Statement
The current direction of my work leans toward the figure. The timeless quality of the human form has always been a perfect platform from which the concepts for my work begin their development. The human face is instantly recognizable; there is an immediate connection between object and viewer. Conceptually, it is important to me that the work contain enough human quality to fully engage the viewer while simultaneously incorporating elements that produce feelings of discomfort, even repulsion. For me, it is this tension that gives the work a dynamic quality; it is the push and pull that brings the work to life. I am fascinated by human physical anomalies, deformities and human conjugations. Often, in my sculptures I combine elements of the human form with flora and fauna. This combination helps to make the human elements more conspicuous, out of place and unusual. My work is a celebration of the aberrant.

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