Loyal One, 2010
Acrylic, graphite, latex on canvas
121.92 cm x 121.92 cm (48 in x 48 in)

My work is largely inspired by the unconscious. I try to absorb everything around me in the hope that it might later inspire me artistically. The ideas for my paintings often come to me in dreams in precise detail. From the moment of conception to the final product, there is rarely any deviation—for me, conception itself is what the piece is supposed to be.

I want my work to be beautiful, accessible, and completely subjective. My intent is to create something that really resonates with and ignites instinctive emotion in the viewer.

Cougar, 2011
Acrylic and graphite on canvas
121.92 cm x 121.92 cm (48 in x 48 in)


Technique is of the utmost importance to me—line, color, intensity, and texture all play vital roles in the composition of my paintings. Each decision and brush stoke is intentional and carefully calculated. I deliberately reject the common misconception that non-figurative art is necessarily all about chance and randomness, and strive to accurately replicate my mental image on the canvas.

I have always taken an interest in abstract art, but it was during my tenure at Texas State University that my true appreciation and understanding of the craft began. As a singer-songwriter, I naturally transitioned into visual work by creating cover art for my albums. Soon thereafter, it blossomed into a real passion. I have been painting consistently since the early 1990’s, and founded the James Oliver Gallery in 2006.


James Oliver creates abstract, colorful, dream-like, semi-minimalist images that mirror his emotional and spiritual state. He draws inspiration from myriad sources—from patterns and designs seen in everyday life, from the foreign landscapes of his extensive travels, from his own music and the music of those he admires. His work also reveals inspirational traces of Bauhaus titans Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky, surrealist Joan Miró, and later abstract expressionists Cy Twombly and Helen Frankenthaler. But though his use of color evokes Klee, and his amoebic shapes, Miró, Oliver nevertheless presents a distinctive new take on abstract at.

Oliver’s travels have taking him all over the map—from his hometown in upstate New York to Denmark, Australia, Puerto Rico, New York City and Austin, Texas. In 1999, Oliver moved to Philadelphia, where he found a niche in the artistic landscape—both with his own paintings and at the James Oliver Gallery (JOG). Since its opening in the fall of 2006, JOG has become an increasingly popular destination gallery, presenting over a dozen exhibitions featuring the work of Oliver, as well as that of both emerging and established artists in a wide variety of media.

JOG is a cohesive concept. The décor, lighting, and, of course, the art itself, all compliment and are complimented by the lofty, contemporary gallery space. Sleek, mod, and yet shockingly unpretentious, the atmosphere simply begs one to relax, mingle, have a drink, and enjoy the art.


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