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James Case, Boston University

26, painting

James Case.

James Case.

James Case’s “Blue Flowers, Pink Stripes.”

Here’s what Case has learned in his time at BU: Simplify.

“I came here trying to paint out of my head, and it was a mess,” he says. “I needed something to look at.”

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So he went down to the same stretch of the Charles River twice a day and painted, trying to arrive at the pivot point between abstraction and representation. He was looking at paintings by Matisse, Milton Avery, Edward Hopper. Then he took up still-life painting, which presented a new set of problems. “Abstraction is more difficult with still lifes,” Case says. “I was moving into flattening shapes, bringing up the values.”

His floral still lifes, flat, vibrant, and sparsely detailed, dance with pattern, and, though traditional in some ways, are sprightly and fresh. The simpler, Case found, the better, and also the more challenging.

“I don’t want to get stuck into a pattern where I know how to make a painting,” Case says. “I want it to be an investigation.”

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