Art & Design

Guns, Cameras and Pixelated Porn Stars: The Life & Art of James Georgopoulos

Art & Design

Guns, Cameras and Pixelated Porn Stars: The Life & Art of James Georgopoulos

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James Georgopoulos is a contemporary artist who lives and works in beautiful, sunny, breezy Venice, California. He is a multifaceted creator who works with photography, paint, sculpture, and is best known for his huge guns—and no, we’re not talking biceps. Georgopoulos’ Guns of Cinema series, which has put him on the map of serious art collectors, combines unique and extremely large silver gelatin prints with elegant multi-layered fields of solid color acrylic paint. These meticulous and painstakingly produced prints are created in a mural darkroom, and each image often combines many layers of individually toned and processed fiber based prints which are then layered and trimmed to create a seamless and extraordinarily powerful statement.

Georgopoulos has amassed and photographed Hollywood’s most iconic and notorious weapons. Guns in the series include ones brandished by Al Pacino in Scarface, Lady Gaga in the “Born This Way,” video,  John Travolta in Pulp Fiction, Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry, Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and Angelina Jolie in Salt. Obviously, guns have all sorts of weighty connotations, which Georgopoulos is not afraid to explore. He challenges the viewer to examine their relationship with the entertainment industry, gun culture and the exposure that comes with fame and power.

Most recently, camera maker Panavision came knocking, inviting James to photograph some of their most famous cameras in a similar fashion. The result are larger than life images of some the world’s most cherished tools of Hollywood. And recently, he revealed a new series of work at LA Art Platform called the “Pixel Project,“ based on erotic online imagery  in a brilliant, exaggerated exploration of sex and pornography in the digital age.

To those closest to him, he is known as Jimmy G. I have personally known Jimmy since I was 18. When I first moved to LA. I would see him around at friends’ houses; always taking photos. Over the years I would run into him here and there around Venice. A few years ago we got to talking—I had just started getting seriously into my own photography. Jimmy G. had a dark room so I offered to help him with some of his new work and in return he would teach me the tools of the trade. We began a platonic analogue love affair that consisted of hours in the darkroom, hours of scanning negatives and him giving me some of my first and most important cameras that I would learn to be a real artist on. I was there for him as a critical eye, a lazy assistant with a big mouth and tons of ideas. Last weekend, I sat down with him to ask him some formal questions about his work.

Where were you born?
New Hampshire.

Tell me how you got into the guns.
At the time I was doing these large format photographs, and photo grams. I was trying to do something that no one else was doing, and there was just no recognition. So I decided to immerse myself in popular culture and look at what people were looking at, and it was street culture. Specifically in LA. What I wanted to do was have those kind of popular images in my work so I decided to shoot a Gun, Brass Knuckles, a grenade and the hardest thing to get was a Gun. No one wants to let you photograph their guns, and anytime I would bring up the conversation people would be like hell no. There was this one friend who let me come over, and he had an arsenal of guns… Halfway through the shoot he started to get paranoid about his girlfriend coming home and apparently she only knew about one gun. They are no longer together now, so I’m not sure she was OK with it. ( Laughter ) So when I was done, I sent some of the images around and this guys I knew got right back and asked if I could get the Scar face gun, for some wealthy princess who was obsessed with Scarface. And this is what began, Guns of Cinema.

Are you entirely self- taught?
Mostly, yes. Jay Kelly (his neighbor, also an artist ) gave me his secrets for the resin process I do. I needed to come up with a way to mount my work, because the glass was too heavy and I went over to the surf shop one day and bought some resin and the result was a disaster. The whole neighborhood smelled like I was building surfboards in my studio. So I went to Jay and he helped me out, but they are secrets I have never revealed.

Tell me about the cameras.
I was invited to go shoot the most epic cameras that Panavision has, in their facilities. I used their stage for three days and I shot the cameras that shot Kill Bill, Star Wars, James Bond, Lawrence of Arabia, Jaws, you name it. The photo’s are up in there board room, but I am not allowed to sell that work because of Panavision’s famous trademark.  They are the property of Panavision, but I can rent or loan them out.

Tell me about the Pixel Project.
Well, I grew up looking at mosaics. Every Sunday at church, I would stare at the mosaics and was always so fascinated by them, I always thought I would end up making those at one point in my life, but I didn’t. I worked in digital effects for along time , and you would see all these digital break ups, and I always thought that was so cool to see the pixelating happening, I loved the colors and the way it would freeze and I thought, that is cool I wish I could re-create that look.  So at the beginning of the year, I started with 4 inch pixels that I had hand cut on wood. Those were way too big, and recently I moved to 2 inch blocks. Those pieces were almost perfect, but they were off by a little and I have this friend who does flooring for everyone from the White House to the Las Vegas hotel suites and I brought this to him and he had it done perfectly in two days. Once I had that solved, and I talked to the owners of a website called xArt, and they are allowing me to use images of their website. So, that is how the Pixel project came to fruition.

Who are some of your inspirations?
Gyorgy Kepes, Andy Warhol,  James Rosenquest.

What’s next for you?
Large Scale Installations.