James Matheson

is an artist

& sometimes poet.

He makes stuff.

Some stuff is made with words.

Some stuff is made of pencil, paper, paint, canvas, meat tenderizers, bits of window screen.

He wants people to want art,

to want to have a life with objects and artifacts that are unmistakably made by hand. Objects that are things that represent ideas. Ideas about the small, barely noticeable, and ideas about the huge, and philosophical. Life and death. Stains and dust motes.

Exhibition Work

2020, From Inquisition to Slapstick, solo show, Atelia Ludmila, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada

2020, The Artbox Project, digital show, Barcelona, Spain

2018, Cited: Masterpiece and Memento, Propeller Gallery, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

2017, Live Longer, Piss Off your Heirs, Propeller Gallery, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

2008, Out Of The Basement (with Greg McHarg), Journey Through The Arts Gallery, Port Hope, Ontario

2008, Whodunnit? Mystery Art Sale, OCAD, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

2007, Whodunnit? Mystery Art Sale, OCAD, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

1998, Northumberland Hills Studio Tour, Northumberland County, Ontario, Canada

1997, Northumberland Hills Studio Tour, Northumberland County, Ontario, Canada

1994, Drawing for Art, The Station Gallery, Whitby, Ontario, Canada

1989, Group Show (with Bradley Bell, Robert Lee, Andrew Sorfleet), Gallery 76, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

1984, Group Show, Mackenzie Gallery, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada

1983, New Faces (9 person exhibit), Thomas Gallery, Port Hope, Ontario, Canada

1982, Penticton International Auction of Fine Art, Penticton, B.C., Canada

1982, Fourth Annual Group Exhibition, Art Gallery of Cobourg, Cobourg, Ontario, Canada

1981, Fifth Annual Group Exhibition, Art Gallery of Cobourg, Cobourg, Ontario, Canada


1992, University of Toronto, Faculty of Education, Toronto, Ontario

1990, Ontario College of Art (now OCADU), Toronto, Ontario

1981-1983, Apprentice/Assistant, David Blackwood, Printmaker, Port Hope, Ontario


Traill College, Trent University,
Peterborough, Ontario

OSSTF and ETFO Federation House,
Peterborough, Ontario

Works held in private collections in Canada and Asia

Lectures & Teaching

2016, Gender and Sexuality in Art, lecture for LGBTQ Conference, Cobourg Collegiate Institute, Cobourg, Ontario

2016, Incorrigibly Plural: A Multitude of Ways To Make And Understand Art, Seniors’ Lecture Series, Cobourg, Ontario

2015 to present, OSSTF provincial workshop presenter for Mental Health -Let’s Act, EQUIP (equity in the workplace), From Pain to Pride (against homophobia and transphobia), Confronting Poverty (class bias in schools), Cultivating Resilience (positive psychology for education workers)

Artist Statement

Art historian Hal Foster said, “Formlessness in society might be a condition to contest rather than celebrate in art.” Painting and drawing, evoke the ephemeral, at the same time leaving strong traces of the actions of their own making – giving form to the formless.

Caught between the allure of post-modern theory, with its cerebral, dispassionate discourse, and the siren call of more visceral, direct ways of working, I face a tension each time I make art. I know that straying too far into the theoretical tends to paralyse my impulse to make art. Yet, my intellect tells me that concepts such as intuition and gut feeling are spurious. The needs of intellect, and the needs of body play out in the process of making non-representational art. The opaque calculus necessary to produce work leaves its history, in the composition, in the line and shape, in the application of every media. That is the history that the viewer reads and interprets.

The age of epic painting, beginning with the Renaissance and ending with Abstract Expressionism has been eclipsed by epic film-making and gaming. We can immerse ourselves in the Rococo pleasures of special effect-driven, three-hour block-busters and labyrinthine, all night online games. Painting and drawing needn’t, and shouldn’t compete. Art must take a more poetic tack. Its job needs to become exploring the intimate. Looking at delicate balances, tense interactions, quiet moments, and sudden bursts of emotion. That has become my job.