I began my professional career designing scenery for theatre, film and print photography. After nearly twenty years as a set designer, I became fascinated (obsessed) with personal computers when they were introduced in the early ‘80s and decided to study programming. This change allowed me to leave New York City and make my home in New Marlborough, Massachusetts, where I could work out of my home office.
In 2009 I began drawing and painting again.
Jim Singelis approaches painting as if it were any other kind of job, and he goes to the studio and paints every day whether he feels like it or not.
He started doing self-portraits as an academic exercise, trying at first for an accurate likeness. Then he began to loosen up and let things happen, and this brought unexpected results: the drawings began to seem more real than what he saw in the mirror as well as more engaging and provocative. And although the portraits are not photographic images, they do describe him: they portray something other than what he looks like but show who he honestly is.
Singelis sees each painting as an opportunity to re-invent himself, and each painting is a visual essay, the diary of an attempt to make a visible record of something intuitive and personal. It is not intended to be the illustration or snapshot of an emotional moment, but rather a history of the interior cross- currents that occurred while he was painting.
He puts a lot of marks on a canvas, and many end up being obliterated or obscured. Those that remain need to feel honest. In the beginning he wanted nothing more than to be a draughtsman, and to this day nothing pleases him more than a tangle of lines that also depicts a face. He tries to create a canvas where the seemingly random play of colors, shapes and lines coalesce into a recognizable image.
Self-absorption undoubtedly plays a part, but he also does self-portraits because he is ready and willing to pose any hour of the day or night, and because the face compels attention. We take notice of the entire figure, but the face captivates. Even the most distorted abstraction of a face can convey a distinct persona, someone we can recognize and for whom we can feel empathy.