Last night, Jonathan Levine hosted an exclusive friends and family viewing of James Jean’s Kindling. The Chelsea gallery was filled from the opening minutes with many New York art notables including: Susan Sarandon, Eric White, David Choe, Jonathan Viner, Esao Andrew, Travis Louie, and Molly Crabapple.

The stunning show was a visual mix of abstract, illustrative, and an “east meets west” fusion of artistic ingenuity. With most pieces gobbled up before the doors even opened, there was little doubt in the minds of many that this show was going to be beautiful, but seeing the works in person brought a whole new level of appreciation for the award winning illustrator. From the mind blowing masterpieces such as “Toy Maker” and “Swan“, which were as intricately detailed as they were immense, to dreamy works such as “Ballad” and “Vanity” (seen below), which stretched and entranced the imagination.

Read more and see pics after the jump.

We especially enjoyed the colorful installation James created using his latest series of “abstract” works. By using a special mix of colors and shapes, JJ demonstrated that thinking out of the box can be just as beautiful and stimulating. AM also noted that Levine and JJ made the initial sketches of the artwork available at the show. These drawings are a cornerstone of JJ’s meticulous and exhaustive creative process. Every graphite gem seemed like a long lost “mini-me” of their beautiful counterpart (sans color of course). With the abundant quality of the works at Kindling, it baffles the mind that this is the just James’ FIRST-EVER solo gallery exhibition! There’s little doubt why Prada selected James Jean to answer the Louis Vuitton x Murakami collaborations.

Already one of the most anticipated shows going into 2009, Kindling lived up to it’s hype and more, making this the hottest show so far this year and setting the bar very high for 2009. Pictures just doesn’t do this art any justice. There will also be very limited number of signed prints available from the gallery for people who attend of: Ballad, Toymaker, Bunny, and Vanity.

If you’re in the New York area before Feb 7th, we recommend that you to treat your eyes to this amazing spectacle. Maybe if you’re lucky, the lovely ladies of Levine will let you try some of James’ wine!  (More on that soon!)

Red or White?

Red or White?

(Please click on image for expanded view.)

Check out our “Kindling” interview with James here.
Discuss this show here.
Discuss James Jean here.