Beauty and Anger
The latest exhibition of artist Alexander James, Death of the Dream of Democracy, fuses his some of his more ethereal works with some of the most overtly politicised work he’s ever done
Article by Rupert Watkins
Alexander James is perhaps not your most conventional artist; on the verge of being a self-confessed recluse, he personifies perhaps the most important trait an artist can have in this overly-saturated commercial world – disregard; he creates what he likes and in his own time. Only when he is content with the work will it be deemed ready for the wider world to see.
Everything about Alex has the frisson of the passionate and unexpected; from his time living and working in underground studios in the centre of Moscow to the painstaking gestation of his projects. His latest exhibition, Death of the Dream, had its roots two years ago though as he comments, “many of the ideas and methods I am using I have been working and experimenting with for over 30 years.”
The exhibition melds two what could be seen as disparate strands of his work. The first is Alex’s series, “Transparency of a Dream Illuminated.” He has always been fascinated by the cycle of life and, more technically, the fusion of painting and photography. His series of butterfly shots have been taken over a period of years using a single 8 – 10 inch film plate with each shot being layered and the result painted. The result is somewhat ethereal – a vibrant but slightly haunting look at the inevitability of nature. The other strand, is his most politicised work ever, is “Death of the Dream of Democracy.” Produced very quickly by Alex’s standards, it is his visceral response to the rise and inauguration of Trump. With his keen interest in nature and the naturel world, this strand of the exhibition does sit – perhaps more precisely than some might think – within his wider work. Trump’s repudiation of the Paris climate agreement, clearly angers Alex and comes together in the increasing punishment of nature. The acceleration of climate damage sits uneasily besides the fragility of life seen in his other work and provides a stark and perhaps angry juxtoposition .
In a world of ever condensed trends and obsession with the transient – Instagram anyone? – it is refreshing to see and talk with an artist who is, bluntly, comfortable enough in his own skin to not give a shit. Those seeking an intriguing and thought provoking exhibition should head to Mayfair.
Exhibition runs 4- 17th September at Herrick Gallery, 93 Piccadilly, London, W1J 7NQ
Enquiries: Dellasposa Fine Art, 15 Stratton St, Mayfair, London W1J 8LQ/ www.dellasposa.com