A New York-based artist is building a loyal following for his work. James Falciano says he wants to celebrate ‘queer identity, sexuality, expression and romance.’
Falciano, 29, was raised in St James, New York and is currently based in Brooklyn.
James Falciano, self-portrait (Photo: @jamesfalciano | Instagram)
‘I’ve always been a city person at heart,’ he tells Gay Star News. ‘And have NYC roots going back to my great grandparents’ immigration from Italy to the Lower East Side in the early 20th century. I decided when I was about 5 that I’d live in NYC as an adult, and held myself to that challenge!’
Falciano is proud to have reached a stage where he’s able to work full-time as an artist.
‘The road to this point certainly wasn’t easy, but it’s incredibly validating and exciting to be here at last, doing what I love on a daily basis.’
His preferred medium at the moment is marker on paper.
A couple embrace in one of Falciano’s painting from 2017 (Photo: @jamesfalciano | Instagram)
‘Quiet moments between lovers, that deep romantic connection’
Falciano, who is currently single, sees himself as a queer person celebrating queer identities.
‘I am identifying more and more with the term queer these days. I feel it fully encompasses the spectrum of who I am more so than just “gay man” does,’ he says.
He also feels, ‘more than the Western definitions of what makes a man. I am proud of those parts of myself that are femme. It has taken me so long to realize the strength in embracing them.’
His art reflects this attitude. Flowers are also a recurring motif, hinting at love and romance.
A private commission undertaken by Falciano (Photo: @jamesfalciano | Instagram)
‘There is a plethora of very bold erotic queer art, which is wonderful, but I am also interested in capturing queer intimacy, sensuality, quiet moments between lovers, that deep romantic connection.
‘I don’t see enough of that softness, particularly in work centered on masculinity. There are plenty of Tom Of Finland-esque things out there, which is wonderful, and I love a good old erotic drawing as much as the next person. But I feel there is more to the story, there is that softness in men and I think it’s time that aspect was shown as well.’
A James Falciano portrait inspired by @that_sandy (Image: @jamesfalciano | Instagram)
The flower boy
His affinity with flowers goes back to his childhood. In an Instagram posting from earlier this year, he elaborated. Beside an image of himself as a child, holding a bunch of flowers, he stated: ‘By incorporating floral elements back into my life I feel as though I am reclaiming a part of myself, the most innocent and liberated part of myself, that was taken from me.
‘I used to be called “flower boy” in a derogatory manner, but now I embrace that as a badge of honor. I was, and will always be, that flower boy.’
(Image: James Falciano)
When it comes to those artists that have inspired him, Falciano offers a multitude.
‘John Singer Sargent is one of my favorite portrait artists. He manages to capture so much about his subjects through a very minimal use of brush strokes. It’s amazing.
‘Kehinde Wiley is another one, I love his use of bold florals and how he captures a softer side to masculinity in many of his subjects. Edward Hopper, for his use of lighting and simple scenes that convey so much emotion and mystery.
‘Alphonse Mucha, for his beautiful line quality and vibrant Art Nouveau floral motifs. Frida Kahlo, for her continued dedication to self expression and exploration through her myriad of self portraits spanning the length of her career.’
A self-portrait, half-photograph and half drawing (Image: @jamesfalciano | Instagram)
He also loves the work of Paul Cadmus, David Wojnarowicz, and the art deco portraiture of Tamara de Lempicka.
‘High Fashion plays into my inspiration as well, I am always perusing runway shows. People dismiss fashion as vapid, but I disagree. It is power, you can speak volumes through what you wear without uttering a single word.’
Artwork inspired by Alok Vaid-Menon and Sash Velour – two of Falciano’s heroes (Image: @jamesfalciano | Instagram)
For Falciano, the realization that ‘representation matters’ is part of what drives his work. It’s also getting him noticed. In June, his work featured at a NYC Pride-associated Human Rights Conference, and a Pride-themed art exhibit at the top of the World Trade Center’s Freedom Tower.
Makeup artist @trayoncemua by James Falciano (Image: @jamesfalciano | Instagram)
‘Visibility is everything, and more important than ever. Representation matters, and I feel that the best art comes from a place of authenticity within oneself and their community.
‘I make work that celebrates that vibrant community I feel lucky to be a part of, for all the world to see the beauty and power of queer individuals.
jewelry designer Lucas Goossens (@lucasgoossens) by Falciano (Image: @jamesfalciano | Instagram)
‘To celebrate our bodies, that come in all shapes, sizes and skin tones, and to celebrate our vibrant expression and clear influence on fashion trends. To celebrate our love, our sexuality, our gender expression, our intimacy. They try to suppress us, to erase us but we have always been here.
‘I want to in some small way continue to aid in the fight for a broader representation of my community and our contributions to society.’
You can follow James Falciano on Instagram. Merchandise and art available via Society 6.
Another of Falciano’s kissing couples (Image: @jamesfalciano | Instagram)
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