James Lai - Studio shot 3.jpg


James Lai is a contemporary landscape painter based in Sydney, Australia. He sees the landscape as a theatrical play and reflection of society, with its various characters and elements of movement, drama and mood. All these elements interact in such a way that gives each landscape a unique quality and his works tell their stories.


He is less interested in creating a representational work, but remains focused on capturing and expressing the feeling that a landscape evokes, through working in a figurative abstract style. James utilises skewed and multiple perspectives in his works to introduce depth and complexity to the landscape. His works are like deconstructed landscapes where its characters are carefully positioned on the canvas to express the various movements and interactions between them.

He draws inspiration from the Australian landscape, studying nature in the open, but uses imagination, an inventive art style and a contemporary lens back in the studio to draw out these unique stories and feelings from each landscape. James paints in a direct, authentic and imaginative way that helps viewers evoke their own emotional response to the artwork.

"My works often start with a vision and it usually takes on a life of its own as the work develops and evolves on the canvas. While I focus heavily on the colour palette and techniques in the application of paint, I always strive to achieve a fine balance between technical and emotion."


Finalist - SBS Portrait Prize (2021)

Finalist - Paddington Art Prize (2020)

Finalist - Gosford Art Prize (2020)

Finalist - Greenway Art Prize (2020)

Finalist - Little Things Art Prize (2020)

Finalist - SBS Landscape Prize (2020)

Finalist - Lethbridge 20000 Small Scale Art Award (2020)

Finalist - The Alice Prize (2020)

Finalist - Paddington Art Prize (2019)

Finalist - Hornsby Art Prize (2019)

Finalist - Blacktown City Art Prize (2019)

Finalist - Hawkesbury Art Prize (2019)

James is represented by the following galleries:

Lauriston Press Gallery (Kyneton, Victoria)

Satch and Co Gallery (Holbrook, New South Wales)

Uralla Gallery (Uralla, New South Wales)

Day Gallery (Blackheath, New South Wales)

His artworks are held in private collections in Australia and overseas.