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The Dark & The Wounded in L.A.

– Annex Magazine, Los Angeles, April 2013
Canadian artist, James Picard was born with a creative and artistic mind, in which he taught himself how to paint. Artists such as, Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso, Monet, and Rembrandt are those who impacted him as an artist, and influenced his work. His passion for art has truly shaped his life and career.James Picard strives to capture the hearts and minds of those who are emotionally wounded. He is known for his ability to bring out an emotional state just by a simple glance to one of his paintings. He explains, “In each of us there are wounds: emotional scars from trauma, abuse, abandonment, and fear. Some wounds are deeper than others but all result in suffering. These wounds, found in the dark regions of the human psyche, if ignored, manifest in other ways. Fear racism, violence, isolation, homophobia, and denial are the result of failing to look within and heal the wounds that lie inside.” On October 27, 2012, Picard embarked on his first large concept exhibition, where he previewed 48 paint- ings of his own at a Psychiatric Hospital in Vancouver. His art captivated the hearts of those who attended, and made a mark in their lives. This exhibition was titled “The Dark and The Wounded.” He was able to tour the world and display his work in different abandoned asylums and prisons. The sense of fear can come about when entering a dimly lit, abandoned asylum, and all while viewing meaningful paintings, thoughts of one’s past are likely to come about. A woman who attended the exhibit shared, “I turned to my right and it was then that I was face to face with a large six foot canvas entitled “Wounded Woman”. I could feel a lump forming in my throat, my eyes were becoming teary and I felt like I was transported to a time when I was a young girl struggling with my identity and a very deep scar which caused a life-long internal struggle I still carry with me today. This painting felt my pain and I felt hers.”This is Picard’s gift; he is able to tap into the subconscious mind of others through his artwork. He further explains, “The Dark and The Wounded series is not only about the consequences of a wounded and dark soul. It is about knowing that we all suffer, and that through compassion and awareness, for ourselves, and others, we can heal our wounds.This in turn can heal ourselves, our families, our society, and the world in which we all live.” James Picard has touched many lives, and he continues to improve the quality of our world through the unspoken words of his paintings. 


Painting Path To Recovery


Deal with this violence:  Painter forces viewers to grapple with collective pain, suffering

Artist James Picard creates pieces inspired by dark events with the goal of inspiring recovery.

By Stephanie Ip, The Province April 24, 2013 Photography by Jenelle Schneider

Blood. Tears. Flames, mayhem and seared flesh.

In recent says, Its become impossible to avoid images of pain and suffering.

Photos from Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings show victims being rushed to hospital, clutching what would soon be unimaginably horrific amputations for many. Other images show blood splattered down the sidewalk of Boylston Street.

Then on Wednesday,  a fertilizer company in rural Tex- as was torched by an earth-shaking explosion that injured dozens, their agony unheard by first responders who, at first, couldn’t get close enough to help due to the  flames.

A video of the incident circulating online shows the building engulfed by the blaze only seconds before the deafen- ing explosion rocks a car carrying the videographer and his daughter. The smartphone filming the scene is fumbled and the screen goes dark before a small voice can be heard.

“Dad. Get out of here. Please, get out of here,” repeats the panicked child, urging her dad to drive away from the scene.

“Oh my god. Please, get out of here.”

That discomfort, uncertainty and fear is what Vancouver painter James Picard hopes to provoke in those who see the work in his exhibition, The Dark and The  Wounded.

The pieces in the collection feature deep and wonderfully rich images depicting terrible things, some loosely related to or inspired by current events. The venues for the exhibition are equally eerie — the Vancouver première of his show took place last October in Coquitlam’s shuttered Riverview Psychiatric Hospital.

Next week, Picard will take the exhibition to Los Angeles, where his work will be displayed in the abandoned 100-year-old Lincoln Heights Jail, closed since 1965. He’s also in talks to host the exhibition on the infamous Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay.

The result of such gruesome pieces in haunting locations is an unsettling of the viewer’s every sense and emotion, forcing one to look deeper into the pain and suffering that makes us uncomfortable, and how we can move beyond it.

“The idea of wounds is that, when we don’t look at it, we don’t deal with it. It festers and becomes infected,” Picard shared with The Province. “The same thing goes for the human psyche.

“By not looking at these wounds — these dark areas of humanity — they never get the chance to heal.”

The 49-year-old, who also teaches at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, is no stranger to moving outside of his comfort zone.

As a child, he doodled under his sheets by flashlight, since there was little support in his home for his fledgling artistic talent. That cocoon, however, perhaps provided more than just a hidden canvas — it also gave a small boy a sense of protection.

Picard was raised in an abusive home by an alcoholic father. Then when he was 19, his sister — whom he calls his “war buddy”, citing their difficult childhood together — was killed in a random act of violence in New York.

“For me, a lot of these wounds can happen during childhood. There are things we do to survive in childhood — we develop defence mechanisms,” he said. If children aren’t counselled or given the chance to heal from these afflictions, Picard believes, it could evolve into an adult tendency to turn a blind eye when faced with challenges and difficulties. For Picard, his path to recovery was through the process of painting, and exploring what wounds

Remained in himself. In his piece titled Apparitions, viewers stare into the pallid faces of young schoolchildren, sitting shoulder to shoulder, row by row. Their clothing is colorful, but their expressions are blank and mournful, awash in grey.

“It’s interesting when children have their photos taken — they’re innocent but there’s a lot of stuff there that we can’t see,” Picard said, noting the piece is meant to imitate school portraits and the secret home lives children lead.

Then only days after completing the piece, Picard was in L.A. and turned on his hotel room TV to see news reports of the San- dy Hook shooting that killed twenty children and six adults.

Instantly, he knew that was what the painting was meant to communicate and has made the connection in every exhibition of the piece since the December 2012 shooting.

“As an artist and a human being, I look around the world and see all these horrible things happening and all these terrible things that keep happening,” said Picard. “We’re not getting deep enough ... to figure out what’s going on here. One of our problems is that we live for a bit and then we get distracted and then we don’t focus on it anymore.”

Picard hopes that drawing on the subject matters seen in cur- rent events and around the world will help each person find a common thread in his exhibition, forcing the audience to keep pertinent issues at the forefront of the collective conscience.

“If we look at our wounds and find solutions to solve them, these wouldn’t be reoccurring things. It would’ve ended at Columbine,” he said, citing the various shootings that have continued since the 1999 massacre.

“We have to stop and communicate and talk about this and come to an understanding with ourselves and each other.

“This is my own intervention.”

Picard plans to bring The Dark and The Wounded back to Vancouver for another exhibition in the fall. For more updates on the tour and his work, visit



L.A. Week , June 2013


Composer Jeff Danna and Painter James Picard in front of Picard’s Dark & Wounded painting in Los Angeles Photo: Jason Ryant

The Emperor’s New Clothes is a short tale by Hans Christian Andersen about two weavers who promise an Emperor a new suit of clothes that are invisible. It is a story about exposing the truth and the facades we put up in order to not see what is really happening. The story ends when the Emperor parades before his subjects and they all pretend to see the clothes that aren’t really there in order to not look foolish. A child soon cries out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!” The dream is shattered and the truth exposed.

Artist James Picard is exposing what we perceive to think is real with the help of musical composer Jeff Danna, both world renowned artists in their own right. They are the weavers of this multimedia exhibition and are letting us know that perhaps what we think we see and what we perceive to be our reality needs to be looked at a little closer. Perhaps we are seeing something that isn’t real after all and even though the myth has its charms, it the truth in the end that is by far more beautiful and rewarding.

That was the premise for two inaugural art exhibits in Los Angeles in late May 2013. The first took place at the abandoned and haunted Lincoln Heights Jail and the second at the abandoned and also haunted Linda Vista Hospital in East L.A. Both exhibitions took place for one evening only and both were held at night which added to the exhibits extraordinary originality.


Picard states that, “Beyond fear, there is freedom.” and takes the viewers on a deeply poignant roller coaster ride. His paintings are very unique and have an energy that I myself have never experienced before. Now combine that with the outstanding music of composer Jeff Danna, who has written for such movies as The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Resident Evil and Silent Hill, and the fact you are wondering around in the dark in an abandoned and haunted building and you are now set up perfectly for a very intense and emotional experience. One of the most astonishing elements to this exhibition however is the way the paintings fit the music and the music fit the paintings, and they both eerily fit perfectly in the venues. I have several images burned into my brain and the music is still haunting me even though it’s been over a month since I attended the exhibit. There is something so unique happening here that I have the strange feeling that in a way, without sounding too crazy, that I am witnessing something of a historical nature. Never before have I been so impacted after an art exhibition. I feel the need to insist that anyone reading this article, if you have the opportunity to see The Dark and The Wounded, make every attempt to see it. It invites you into a world of self-discovery, self-awareness and as Picard says, “It is from within that change occurs and my objective is to get people thinking internally.” The show does this and more. The paintings and music take you into a world that exists inside us all, but rarely do we go there. The exhibition gives us a glimpse into what being human is all about and leaves us feeling like we are all connected through events, both large and small, but it is indeed those events that make us who we are. It allows us to reflect from a place of vulnerability and therefore come to some pretty emotional conclusions. Bravo Mr. Picard and Mr. Danna. This is a very timely show and by pointing out what is really going on and exposing the realities of life we get to see the truth. The Emperor is naked and we all need to acknowledge that because then we truly can begin to heal our wounds, let go of our facades and become better humans.



Sketches of Pain - Vancouver Sun May 2015

   As we walked inside San Francisco’s famed Alcatraz prison past rows of small, decaying, locked prison cells, on barred doors hung Vancouver artist James Picard’s paintings: Disturbing images of physically and emotionally wounded people, many representing Holocaust prisoners and Nazis. The pain was palpable.

On May 5th, 40 guests spent the evening on The Rock with Picard and his team for a special presentation of his acclaimed experiential art exhibit The Dark and The Wounded.

We had left San Francisco’s Pier 50 on a small ferry. We were buzzing with excitement and snapping photos of the Golden Gate Bridge, the AT&T baseball stadium and the looming amber-lit prison itself. Greeted by prison guards who read us the usual riot act about not touching anything, we walked a steady incline of uneven road that wound around and upward to Alcatraz prison itself.

Inside, the group’s tone turned sombre quickly.

In the decrepit cafeteria entrance, a large single painting was seen at the far back wall, making a long walk necessary in order to view it. The painting is one of Picard’s favourites. He calls it “Picture Day,” where rows of small boys are lined up like in a typical class photo. Except these boys have the anguished, haunted expressions of children who are being abused emotionally or physically, or neglected in some way. With some, the pain comes through in their eyes, the furrowed brows or a trembling mouth choking back tears.

With others, a certain numbness is captured: a blank, vacant look that comes from living in survival mode. One small boy in particular in the front row, looks very much like Picard in his own class picture that appears in a documentary about the artist. In his photo, his classmates smile for the camera. Little James (if indeed that is him) appears numb, expressionless and with eyes focused elsewhere, likely an imaginary safe place he wishes he could disappear into. Survival mode is a state he spent most of his childhood in, as he was a victim of abuse at his alcoholic father’s hand.


In one dimly lit cell — the ‘hole’ — rumoured to be haunted, a painting of an evil clown grinned, lurking around the corner. You could overhear a guest quietly reciting the Lord’s prayer ...

Picard, 51, is a masterful painter whose prolific artwork ranges vastly in styles, from old-world landscapes in oil, to quirky, watercolour portraits, and much in between. His talent is without dispute, but his gift moves us most profoundly when it comes to The Dark and The Wounded series, which has been touring North America since 2012.

Picard just wrapped three one-night-only exclusive events in California: at Alcatraz Prison in the San Francisco Bay, then at Preston Castle in Ione, and finally at Casa de Rosas in Los Angeles.

The series is a collection of paintings that reflect some of the darkest times in history, as well as the artists’ own painful experiences. The experience reaches in and grabs your very soul, shaking you into a humbling, healing submission.

Said Picard, “I don’t expect people to leave and think, ‘I want to change the world.’ But healing pain and suffering on our planet starts with each individual. I just want people to go home and reflect. The longer they do, the more potential (they have) for change. I’ve seen this happen in my shows, where guests come in all, ‘Ooh, isn’t this exciting? I am in a prison or asylum!’ But when they walk out, they can’t even speak — no words.”

It’s important to understand that Picard’s exhibit is not like some chamber of horrors from the wax museum, created just for shock factor and to scare you to death as entertainment. James’ paintings intend to move you.

James carefully chooses ominous locations with a deeply troubled history, like Alcatraz, as the exhibit “just does not work in galleries. The energy that is floating around here creates an atmosphere that is far more effective.”

Add music scored by film composer Jeff Danna (Resident Evil: Apocalypse, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus) and the experience is truly chilling.

Certainly a career coup for Picard was convincing Alcatraz to let him show the exhibit there. He was also filming for an upcoming documentary about his Dark and Wounded series. The film is slated for release in late 2016.

Ai Wei Wei, the Chinese activist and dissident, is the only other artist that have ever been granted that permission.

Though Picard travels often — off to do a commission in New York City one weekend, working with Hollywood big wigs like Tim Burton the next — he still finds it essential to give back. He works with B.C. Children’s Hospital teaching kids with cancer how to express themselves with painting, and inspires students of all skill levels at both Emily Carr University and Capilano College.

Picard will be headed to Europe in 2016, with exhibits in the works for White Chapel (tying in with Jack the Ripper), the Tower of London, and at Oradour-sur-Glane, the abandoned town left as a monument in France by Charles de Gaulle (it was destroyed in 1944 by the Nazis). As well, Picard is looking at the Paris Catacombes, the Berlin Bunkers, and a Nazi concentration camp located in Poland as aspirational venues. The documentary will be the result of filming in all these locations, and is planned to release end of the same year.

“I don’t know if there’s much hope for mankind if we don’t start looking inside ourselves,” Picard said. “We can make up all the beliefs that we want, but bottom line is we were all born, we will all die, so why can’t we just get along and help one another? We’re all too self-absorbed. Hang on a second — there is no us and them. We are all here. Together.”



The Dark & The Wounded at Riverview Asylum


James Picard: The Dark and the Wounded

October 30, 2013

by Seehorse Creative Media    Article By Jim Muir

James Picard’s exhibit ‘The Dark and the Wounded’, held at the abandoned ‘Riverview Psychiatric Hospital’, was  more than an art show. It was a transformative event. I’ve spent decades pondering what art is, what it could be, and finally, what it should be. German Post-War conceptual artist Joseph Bueys said, and I paraphrase, that ‘art should be a real means to go in and transform the structure of society.’ Bueys believed art could do this, and so do I…although I also believe that it very rarely does. The vast majority of art does not contain the relevant ingredients to ‘transform society’, and the art that does is usually cloistered away in National Galleries that the public dares not enter, written about in difficult essays published in magazines the public does not read, or are simply stashed away in some unknown artist’s studio into oblivion. ‘The Dark and the Wounded’ exhibit is one of those rare examples of everything coming together to produce an art exhibit that can contribute something to help ‘transform society.’

It starts with the paintings. James has always had a stunning ability to portray emotional and psychological pain manifested in disfigured faces and bodies. He identifies with the wounds he insists we all carry inside of us. He paints the afflicted, as well as the dark souls who dole out the suffering. By having his exhibit at the Riverview Psychiatric Hospital he gives these characters a context that adds to their existence. Instead of being dead artifacts on a clean white exhibition wall, they are living characters brought back to life in the kind of shadowy conditions that created them, and in which atrocities were committed. There are Nazi soldiers, Catholic Priests, school children, and dark creatures. Inner rage and torment is expressed in grotesque faces and figures. And you are in that space bearing witness. You are walking in haunted hallways, looking into caged ‘stalls’ where the patients were kept, and occasionally finding a lit painting of a suffering soul staring back at you. All this to the haunting soundtrack by Jeff Danna, which permeates and echoes through the halls. At some point you begin to identify with the victims confronting you. Your sympathy grows to empathy, and you realize you too are afflicted. You are an immediate witness. Picard’s paintings in the environment they are presented, remove the element of distance we usually afford ourselves from the suffering we know goes on in the world. This exhibit, this art, makes that suffering real.

I knew some people who had resided at Riverview. I worked with them. I heard horror stories, but I also heard Riverview alluded to like it was ‘the good old days.’ When I was there in the Riverside facility, confronted with Picard’s paintings, I found myself thinking about those girls that I knew when I lived and worked in East Van. To go from this cloistered, in fact caged condition, to the streets of Vancouver literally overnight – from a secure torture chamber, to a dangerous vista of drugs, prostitution, and serial killers. I thought about the lives those girls endured, and that it happened right under my nose. As I stand in a large hall with a series of almost floor to ceiling windows, caged in wrought iron, I wonder what congregations in this space must have been like when the building was full of the ‘mentally ill.’ Then as I follow the structural pillars through the great room, a painting of a group of school boys reveals itself. They could be Jewish children during the Holocaust, or Christian boys in a boarding school, or just a collection of boys that have been killed in recent school shootings. Or they could be the boys of the Riverside Psychiatric Hospital. They could be the boys that occupied the horse stalls up and down the aisles I have just walked. They are the afflicted. And I am the implicated.  James has re-enacted the crime and made me complicit. Instead of merely showing me the paintings of the characters, he has recreated the experience so that I was a part of it.

In the grand sense we are all a part of it. It is all part of our shared collective consciousness.  We each have our own personal tragedies that pile on top of the historic wounds we carry around in our hearts. Millions are afflicted in 3rd World and developing countries, and millions more right here in the ‘developed’ nations. It is clear that the system is not working. We are all being wounded, and James Picard’s exhibit forces us to feel and confront the darkness, to call out the demons, and to cast them from our midst…and from ourselves. It achieves this by asking us to go beyond the paintings, and to experience the inner condition they express, and the source of this pain. To really feel the Dark and the Wounded, and to identify that part of ourselves that is afflicted. This art exhibit is ‘a real means to go in and transform the structure of society.’ We are the structure of society. If we heal ourselves, society is transformed 


The Dark and The Wounded Teaches Viewers to Heal


An Immersive Art Experience at Riverview Hospital

October 30, 2013

By Aidan Mouellic, Staff Writer The Other Press 

I’ve visited art galleries and museums all around the world, but none of them has had as much of an impact on me as James Picard’s art show, The Dark and the Wounded. The show was held in the abandoned Crease Clinic building at Riverview Hospital on the night of October 27. It was less of a pure art show, and more of an art experience.

Picard, a Vancouver-based artist who specializes in dark and powerful oil paintings, used the symbolic space of the abandoned psychiatric hospital as the perfect place to display his paintings, which deal with the topics of pain, suffering, and hardship. Crease Clinic, where the paintings were displayed, was dark and spooky.

Having previously spent a lot of time there for work-related purposes, I’m familiar with what the decommissioned psychiatric hospital is like. But when the walls are adorned with Picard’s powerful and gory imagery and the halls are filled with the sounds of a haunting musical score by renowned composer Jeff Danna, you get a whole new experience—and that’s what Picard is hoping for.

The point of the show is to inform viewers of the types of tragedies that go unnoticed in the world, and to allow viewers to become more self-aware.

“You go through life wearing blinders and think that everything is beautiful, then you’re ignoring what’s really happening. When you stop ignoring, that’s when you heal,” Picard explained.

Healing is what the show hopes to achieve, and Picard is taking his art on tour throughout North America and soon to Europe in hopes of achieving that.

“When we don’t look at our wounds and think everything is fine, it festers because we’re not healing it and only putting Band-Aids on,” he said.

Picard’s show aims to heal by making us think about and confront the very fears that cause us to ignore the deeper rifts within society. In a way, he is on an ambitious mission to change and civilize the world—a grand task, but not an impossible one.

Picard realizes that there is a lot of bad stuff that goes on in the world and hopes that his show will be a critical worldwide intervention to open the eyes of people hoping to make change. We are all human and we all have the power within ourselves to make the world a better place.

The show that Picard created at Riverview Hospital attempted to effect change, and it did. The immersive experience of sonic, visual, and physical aspects transported the viewers into his ingeniously dark and powerful world.

Picard’s work is aesthetically moving and, more than that, it shares a message of healing and confronting stigmatized fears that society turns away from. This is important art.

Next up for Picard is a fundraiser and documentary trailer premier for The Dark and the Wounded on November 9 in Vancouver.


Bearing Witness : The Dark & The Wounded


The Dark and Wounded Exhibition Thoughts 

October 31, 2013

By John McGie

Sometimes it is the whisper amongst the screams that carries the message.
Within the Dark and Wounded exhibition artist James Picard has encapsulated art as a conduit that bears witness to the unsaid, the unheard and the unwanted.

It invites us to look at the horrors held within the folds of murky memories of not just others but also ourselves.

The art inhabits the space (Riverview Hospital – an abandoned mental institution) with a familiarity and intimacy usually reserved for long lost friends. Music laments through the hallways serenading decades of decay. It all comes together as one great canvas under the stroke of the artist’s brush.
For some the canvas is a haunted house, for some a sanctuary, for some a memorial and for others a torture chamber.

At its best it overwhelms without making you numb as you to look long into the faces of pain and see yourself – as an inactive participant and an addle onlooker .

It asks not for empathetic complacency but rather a non-intellectualized humanity. The raw, visceral ugly that binds us all together on the deepest, darkest levels of our shadowy emotions.
It is guttural. It is unapologetic. It is honouring.
It is art as an active ingredient – for change, for healing, for evolution.
It is a peek behind the curtain that one day, I hope, will be fully opened.


The Dark & The Wounded : Bringing Our Demons Out on Alcatraz


San Francisco Weekly

By Laura Jaye Cramer

Fri May 1st, 2015 8:01am

When a friend of artist James Picard told him that she dreaded going home for the holidays to her father who repeatedly raped both her and her sister, Picard was appropriately horrified. It wasn’t something that was addressed in her family, she explained. And it is truly bloodcurdling to think not only of a man raping his children — but then for these children to have no way to deal with their demons. But for them, it simply wasn’t talked about.

[jump] The conversation stuck with Picard, who eventually ended up painting a portrait of this friend — which led to more portraits of wounded characters. And while the process was a somber one, Picard felt as though he had tapped into something. While his friend might not be able to talk or even understand her pain, Picard was giving her a voice when she didn’t necessarily feel as though she had one.

“We all have wounds and darkness,” says Picard. “If we don’t address wounds, then they don’t heal.”

He showed his series of portraits to several curators, all of whom told him the paintings were too disturbing to be hung. No stranger to gallery exhibitions — his “easier” works have been shown in countless galleries internationally — Picard decided to stay with the series. All he needed was a place to show them.

These paintings eventually grew to be part of his ongoing project, The Dark and The Wounded.  And while galleries might not have had the stomach for the pieces, Picard soon found a location that would. Or, rather, locations. For the past three years, the artist has displayed the work (usually during a live painting performance) to various decommissioned psychiatric hospitals, abandoned prisons and schools — even a dilapidated Nazi concentration camp in Poland — because, as Picard puts it, “What better place to display them than in dark and wounded places in society? It’s like the paintings belong in there. There’s just a [similar] energy in the buildings and an energy in the paintings.”

“When people are interacting with the work I want them out of their comfort zone,” he says. He compares seeing thought-provoking work in a gallery to watching tragedies unfold on the TV news in the comfort of the viewers own home. “It’s so much more visceral when you’re right amongst it. And that was the thought; to get people out of their comfort zones so that they’re having more of a visceral response to the art, instead of standing back with a glass of wine,” he explains. “Lessen that distance between it and you’ll get more of an impact.”

During the tour of The Dark and The Wounded, Picard and his crew film each live painting event. In 2016, the footage will make up a documentary by the same name. And San Francisco — and its notoriously twisted Alcatraz — were an obvious destination for their work.

“The buildings that I go into — whether they’re abandoned asylums, or hospitals, or prisons or jails, they’re all harboring this dark energy. It’s a little uncomfortable, but we can all relate to it because we are all human.”

And so while the project is a weighty one, it’s an important one as well. For Picard, the goal is simply to attempt to bring a little help and attention to those who need it. “We’re all part of the human race,” he says. “It’s not an 'us vs. them' thing, it’s an 'us' thing.”

James Picard presents The Dark and Wounded, Tuesday, May 5, 8:15 p.m., on Alcatraz.


A Funny Thing Happened To Me On The Way To Alcatraz

  Published by Shawn Conner on June 10, 2015

I wound up at an art show.

It all started when an artist friend of mine invited me down to San Francisco’s infamous tourist attraction, Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, to view an ongoing series of work he calls The Dark and the Wounded.

James Picard has chosen not to show the series of paintings (and drawings) in art galleries but in non-traditional settings that he feels are more suited to the subject matter. These aren’t velvet paintings of clowns (though there is one scary-clown painting) but images of contorted bodies, horrific SS guards, eyeless children, and some images that look as though they wouldn’t be out of place on the cover of a Clive Barker novel.

Hence, asylums, prisons and other (now-abandoned) institutions have become the sites for the work. So far, the Vancouver-based artist has taken The Dark and the Wounded to Riverview Hospital (twice), an empty asylum in Coquitlam near Vancouver, B.C., as well as facilities in Philadelphia (Eastern State Penitentiary), Los Angeles (Lincoln Heights Jail and Linda Vista Hospital), New York State (Rolling Hills Asylum), Toronto (Berkeley Church) and, following the May 5 Alcatraz show, Sacramento (Preston Castle, a 19th century reform school). Plans for the exhibit include a European tour to include the (destroyed) town of Oradour-sur-Glane and the Paris Catacombs in France, the Berlin bunkers and a Polish concentration camp. Owing to the complexity and logistics of procuring the venues and mounting the art, the shows are usually one-night-only.

The challenges of taking such a show to these kinds of sites obviously hasn’t stopped Picard – if anything, the amount of red tape and negotiations necessary seem to have spurred him on. Securing Alcatraz, located on Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay, for one night took months of red tape (not to mention the cost of renting the facility, and a ferry). Even up until the last minute, Picard wasn’t sure he and his crew would be able to mount the show properly as authorities suddenly went back on their word, informing him at the last minute that he wasn’t authorized to hang the paintings on the bars of the cells, despite the plan already having been approved beforehand.

But he pulled it off.

(For the record, Picard is the only artist to have exhibited at Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, though Chinese artist Ai WEIwei's "@Large",  which ran from Sept. 27 2014 to April 26 2015, brought seven site-specific installations to four locations on the island itself.)

Getting to Alcatraz, and even the ferry launch, was an adventure in itself. For myself, the trip was planned last-minute, and I had only enough time to get from the airport to the meeting place. I was told to meet at Pier 50, and this is what I encountered:

Fortunately, there were some other baffled folk who had come down to view the exhibit, and we soon figured out where we were supposed to catch the ferry that would take us to the island. About 30 of us piled into the ship, which left from a dock on the eastern edge of San Francisco (far from Fisherman’s Wharf). By then it was night. A baseball game was in progress at AT&T Park, which was visible as we motored to “the Rock.”

On arrival, we were greeted by a couple of U.S. National Park rangers who work the Alcatraz tourist beat and who gave us the run-down on the history of the prison (it was closed up in 1963). I learned that the building hugging the shore, which I thought at first was the prison, was actually the barracks – Alcatraz, built in 1868, was originally home to a military fort and prison. Following the spiel, we were ushered up a road behind the barracks (which once housed the prison guards) to the prison itself. And, for the next two-hours-plus, we had one of the world’s most notorious penitentiaries all to ourselves, along with a small crew that was filming the proceedings for a documentary Picard is putting together, and some park rangers. The paintings had been hung outside cells on the bars, as well as on the walls of communal rooms such as the mess hall, the library and the infirmary. The prison is much as it was when it was decommissioned, and this frozen-in-time quality, along with the night-time setting, the small group of people wondering the largely empty facility, the eerie music (by film composer Jeff Danna) playing in the background, even the journey there – all added to the effect of being somewhere we shouldn’t, of transgressing, of being offered a glimpse of something we weren’t meant to see. Positioned as it was, the work seemed to mirror the suffering that must have gone on amidst the crumbling walls and bare necessities of the small cells.

Two hours in an abandoned prison looking at paintings of human suffering can do something to a person, though. By 11:30, when it was time for the prison to shut down for the night, I was ready to leave Alcatraz and find my way back to my hotel room. Where, I hoped, The Dark and the Wounded wouldn’t follow me into my dreams.


Hollywood North Magazine


The Dark and The Wounded – Review

November 8, 2018     by Nick Wangersky

Finally, a title that describes me. An interesting subject as well. The Dark and The Wounded tells the story of an artist named James Picard (pretty cool name if you ask me) when he started as an artist as a child. But his alcoholic and abusive father would throw little James’s drawings into the fireplace and do even worse things, troubling the poor lad’s life. Years later, depressing news spreads throughout the world, and James solves his depression through the only way he knows how: with incredible paintings.

The documentary shows James’s collection of paintings and what he did with them. Originally drawing drawings for a movie production in an asylum. Abandoned prisons and asylums are a perfect spot where the dark and wounded have once resided. When he looked around the area, he thought it would be a great place to showcase his work, so he told the owners of the building he was making a film. When guests/extras entered the exhibit, they were rather freaked out by the imagery that James had painted. Contributing to the exhibit/film was Emmy Nominated Composer Jeff Danna, Dave MacKenzie, and a wide array of crew members.

The paintings came throughout other exhibits that were filmed in Vancouver, Toronto, New York, California, Washington and Pennsylvania. As the documentary goes on, James and his crew talk about the difficulties of talking with customs and building owners, traveling from one country to another, and the set up of every exhibit within a place. Extras also take the time to share the emotions they felt when they looked at the paintings. After months pass since being declined from the Alcatraz Federal Prison, James finally sent a proposal, but he never gets through, and soon this issue starts taking him over in a bout of frustration. Things get much when his only source of support, his sister has been killed. But he keeps his head up and fulfills life by leaving a legacy of painting and re-applying for the Alcatraz Prison for the first time in a long time. Eventually, he gets through.  

The documentary is the most powerful work of art in showcasing works of art that are powerful. Hearing from the visitors really makes you feel you’re in the same position they were in. The visuals are ominous and very well arranged. I’m a huge fan of creepy disturbing art so this is a high-ranking favourite of mine. It’s amazing how a disturbing past of someone’s life can be made into one of the greatest touring exhibits of all time. A great film for anyone to watch, if you haven’t checked out this exhibit, be sure to keep an eye out for this documentary. The visuals may give you nightmares, but you’ll enjoy it nonetheless.

* 8/10 Stars *


The Dark & The Wounded at Cannes



May 2018

IndustryWorks Studios presents the Cannes Market Debut of the Award Winning Short Film Documentary “The Dark & The Wounded” screening on Monday, May 14th at 8:00 pm

Beyond Fear …There is Freedom

IndustryWorks Studios is pleased to announce the Award Winning short documentary film by renowned artist James Picard, “The Dark & The Wounded” in a market debut at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.  IndustryWorks will reveal details on the feature film production, “The Dark & The Wounded” original and multi-award winning short doc at the screening on Monday, May 14th Palais H with the artist James Picard in attendance.

For those of you not familiar with the brilliant works of the painter/artist, his work, prized by an ever-growing number of collectors, can be seen in both in public and private collections across the United States, Canada, London, Paris, Japan, Germany, Spain, and Australia. Picard’s work has elevated to such a high degree that it has been exhibited next to world-renowned art legends such as Picasso, Matisse, Miro, and Warhol.

With the new series he entitled, “The Dark and The Wounded”, Picard has delved deep into the human psyche.  He holds back nothing and forces us to look inside ourselves, face our demons and heal. Staged at abandoned asylums, hospitals and prisons, places the artist states are the perfect exhibition venues as they have housed the darkness that we fear the most. With a music scored by film composer Jeff Danna (Resident Evil: Apocalypse, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus), the experience is truly chilling. The exhibition has received rave reviews among attendees and art collectors around the world.  Many have said that the visceral effect of these unique events literally took them through life changing vivication.

The tour and the short film culminated with a show in 2015 at the historical Alcatraz prison in San Francisco where Picard and his ‘D&W’ crew tied together all the wounds and darkness of humanity in one of the darkest places on the planet. The results for all those who attended were nothing short of phenomenal.

Enter the year 2018, ‘The Dark and The Wounded’ feature film. Continuing from the documented US Tour of the paintings, Picard is now touring Europe with events taking place in some of Europe’s darkest and most wounded places such as the White Chapel (tying in with Jack the Ripper), the Tower of London, and at Oradour-sur-Glane, the abandoned town left as a monument in France by Charles de Gaulle (it was destroyed in 1944 by the Nazis). As well, Picard is looking at the Paris Catacombes, the Berlin Bunkers, and a Nazi concentration camp located in Poland as aspirational venues. The feature film documentary will be the result of filming in all these locations, and is planned to release end of this year. The finale, a place known all over the world as the ultimate symbol of fear.

Press and Distributors are invited to drop by the IndustryWorks Booth D4 Riviera at Cannes.

To inquire about the details of ‘The Dark & The Wounded’ feature film, contact:

Caterina Scrivano VP Sales & Marketing at Subject: The Dark & The Wounded

About IndustryWorks Studios/Pictures

IndustryWorks Studios/Pictures is committed to the primary efforts of developing, producing and releasing creative and marketable content into the worldwide marketplace with a recognizable brand of content and quality. IndustryWorks releases films theatrically and on all platforms globally while providing independent productions with the support and ability to market, schedule, budget and ultimately release their films theatrically.

James Picard The Dark & The Wounded Official Trailer:

James Picard, The Dark & The Wounded, Alcatraz, photo courtesy of IndustryWorks Studios


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