FROM THE MIND OF
A British/American artist based in Los Angeles, known for his monumental
installations and sculptures. His work gestures towards minimalism, materiality,
process, alchemy, language, mechanization, and experimentation with light
and space. James was born in England in 1974. He studied in London at Central
Saint Martins College of Art and Design from 1994 to 1998.
I developed a language that is not figurative, not abstract,
not English, not French … it’s universal. It doesn’t matter
where you’re from; you see it identically.
Birch Series is a series of sculptures James debuted in New York City in 2005. They consist of several variously sized, vertical lightboxes with young birch tree trunks inside.
The birch tree is associated with magical symbolism: Glenn O’Brien wrote about birch trees that their “magic … is rooted in [the] special relationship with fly agaric mushrooms—that famed toadstool of the red cap and white spots—which is so often associated with elves and spirits. Many anthropologists consider it to be a possible agent of the transformation of human consciousness.
The birch tree is also associated with birth and rebirth and is hermaphroditic and self-propagating, with male and female flowers on the same tree. Birch was also traditionally used to discipline students in schools. The works have mirrored sides, which give the illusion of endless birch forests.
The pieces are made out of Minnesotan birch trees, aluminum, glass, and fluorescent lights or LEDs. Birch Series also references the containment and simulation of nature.
2011 – PRESENT
The Portal sculptures take up the concepts of the universal and
transcendental. The historical cosmology of Plato is a primary
inspiration for the sculptures. The effect is both esoteric and
scientific, morphic, and distinctly concrete. The historical
references here span the empirical experimentation of cultures.
James’ objects show a formal certainty and perspicuity (exact
symmetry, white light, accurate shape) that registers purity,
autonomy, and wholeness. His works illustrate ideals, but they
themselves are very contingent and actual: they are for today.
The sculptures operate between the iconic and the arbitrary, the concrete and the alchemic, the mythical, and the experiential.
James describes his work as “evoking pictorial depictions of the
cosmos, alluding to notions of mysticism, ethereality, spirituality
and science, all the while anchored through the use of weighty,
James’s artwork is currently exhibiting at Crystal Bridges Museum, Crystals in Art, Ancient and Today, curated by Joachim Pissarro and Lauren Hayes, 2019.