February 16, 2019


Traffic cones, waterparks, and the many inspirations of Josh Reames

Dallas-born, Brooklyn-based artist Josh Reames speaks in a visual language of digital symbols and cartoonish images. His complex paintings echo the glut of information we encounter daily: Exit. Now Open. Stop. Thank You. 

In a conversation with Dallas Contemporary’s former Senior Curator, Justine Ludwig, Reames talks about art, inspiration, and humor. (Pasta enthusiasts may recognize his work; one of his pieces, Never Closed, hangs in Sassetta just down the street from the DC.)

JL: How did you come to develop your artistic style?

JR: In undergrad, I studied printmaking and that formed the foundation of how I depict space—a more flat/collaged approach, as opposed to a rendered or depicted space. Now years later, my painting still employs that understanding of how to compose images, but relies more heavily on digital influences.

JL: Which artists have helped shape your aesthetic voice?

JR: Rauschenberg and Warhol are the obvious ones—the way they considered their art a reflection of their cultural moment resonates with me. Same with Martin Kippenberger, Sigmar Polke, and Albert Oehlen. They’re all influential in that way, as well as for their evolving use of material and cultural appropriation.

JL: Your paintings are steeped in humor. Has that always been a defining aspect of your work?

JR: I’m a big fan of humor. It has the ability to disarm because it’s less preachy. Part of my attraction to the German painters I mentioned is because of the dryness of their humor. The sneakiness of it has depth and that’s a place I’ve been striving toward.

Sassetta_hassSassetta_hassJL: What’s the story behind Never Closed and how it came together?

JR: The painting was one of the works from my 2016 exhibition “Wet & Wild” at Brand New Gallery in Milan. I was thinking about the Arlington waterpark that I spent so much time at as a kid. I was also looking at a lot of pictures of abandoned waterparks. The imagery in the painting includes some direct waterpark references, specific childhood memories, and indirect sentiments surrounding the subject.

JL: Waterparks. Nothing is off-limits in your search for inspiration.

JR: Everything is on the table! I’m an image hoarder and spend a lot of time going down rabbit holes of image-searching to get content I wouldn’t have found otherwise. It’s a matter of paying attention to everything around me, digitally and in real life.

JL: How have you seen the Dallas creative community change?

JR: With the artists and galleries coming up in Dallas there’s been a noticeable shift in the past ten years. The Dallas Art Fair has also done a lot to create an open dialogue with other cities more known as cultural hubs. I love coming back and seeing how things continue to grow and shift.

The Details: Admire Never Closed over a slice of pizza at Sassetta, 1617 Hi Line Drive.