JJ Graham is an expressionist painter whose work often depicts a psychological response to both an inner and outer landscape. This landscape is often an arena from which archetypes emerge that he constructs and deconstructs. Tension in his work is an important factor as elements of classical and primitive appreciations often collide. Graham states that for him, “the artist is a catalyst existing in a perpetual self-inflicted state of evolution brought on by a primordial desire for a reconstructive process to balance an innate desire to deconstruct and scrutinize ones own purpose and intent. Painting on the other hand is something I’ve been utterly obsessed with from the moment I picked up a brush.” Graham also states that “There is a thing out there that I’m trying to get at. I call it the Unspeakable.”
Born, John Joseph Graham, in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1975, he began drawing at an early age. Graham’s first major influence came when his family relocated to San Angelo, Texas. Willie Zuniga, a Native American high school art teacher fostered him to use art to cope with the early loss of his mother. After returning to Mississippi, Graham enrolled at Jones State College, where he received a scholarship to study art. He later was awarded a faculty based portfolio scholarship to study painting at the University of Mississippi. After two years of study he began to show his work in professional galleries.
In 2008 Graham cofounded The South Eastern Coalition of Contemporary Artists and opened Hollingsworth Gallery. Over a four year period the organization has grown to house two galleries, studios for 17 working artists, and a theatre.
In 2009 he was chosen by the Gargiulo Art Foundation as the Artist of the Year for furthering art in his community, where he continues to work as an artist, curator, and teacher.
His work is in numerous private and corporate collections throughout the United States, Canada, Germany, Spain, and Poland.
In 2012 he became an international artist when he was granted an artist residancy by the Labirint Gallery in Krakow, Poland. Currently 3 of his works have been selected by curator Leszek Zebrowski to tour Europe in a show entitled, “ Tolerance”. Two of his paintings have been accepted into the permanent collection of The Polish and Slavic Center in New York.
Recently Graham formed a partnership with graphic artist and painter Petra Iston to create the Salvo Art Project. This new endeavor features studio space for artists, a gallery space, outdoor painting areas, an artist residency program, and a classroom. The new space is located in Nature Scapes at 313 Old in Bunnell, Florida. The 6,000 sq. ft. building now houses Graham’s studio as well as studio spaces for 12 working artists, and embodies the vision Graham and Iston share.