James Holmberg was awarded his BFA in 1993 from the Minneapolis College of Art & Design.
He has received the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts (Omaha, NE) Residency Award, the Elizabeth Foundation (New York, NY) Visual Artists Fellowship, and the Jerome Foundation (Minneapolis, MN) Artist Fellowship, as well as a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. In addition, his work was exhibited at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MAEP Gallery) in 2001.
Holmberg's abstractions concentrate on composition, space and scale. Interested in the technical aspect of painting, he continues to paint more minimally, intellectualizing his work with optical sensations rather than figure and symbol. Influenced by Donald Judd and Dan Flavin, viewers often reference his work with Rothko and Monet. His spatial concern has brought his paintings to a large scale, and he paints with the thinnest of coats to create a perfectly smooth surface quality.
He is interested in addressing the physical space of the viewer. With a sense of vastness, his paintings encompass the viewer's peripheral vision. Color, spots, and stripes advance and recede in space, depicting a movement of visual elements that seem to slowly float and merge into each other. These visual elements imply an in-between state of existence where substance emerges from nothingness.
A major concern for Holmberg is the consideration of the painting as, primarily, an object. In addition to the deft and painterly manipulations of layers and color, there's a sculptural inquiry concerning scale and context. The canvases tend to be thick, almost boxlike constructions, and even Holmberg's small paintings begin to change the way the viewer perceives everything around the work.
"I want my paintings in some way to challenge the space they occupy, to encompass the whole field of vision. It's a whole different sensation to paint big; a whole different kind of experience."