James cites a seminal moment in his development as a painter as his first encounter with James Ward’s monumental Gordale Scar. This dramatic English landscape is a visual manifesto of the Romantic movement. It attempts to capture the sublime, that philosophical and aesthetic ideal sought by all the Romantic poets, writers and painters of the period. Romanticism looked to nature and the isolation of the artist-poet within the landscape; its proponents looked away from the recent enlightenment and the scientific rationalization of nature towards an emphasis on emotion and the individual.
This series of paintings certainly draws on that Romantic aesthetic of the early nineteenth century. Man is distinctly absent from these paintings, only the viewer is present, spellbound in glorious isolation, before the cavernous geology of these great natural chambers.Their drama is accentuated by the shafts of sunlight punched through from above, throwing sections of rock face into sharp relief.
Beyond their sheer beauty, the cave imagery sits deep in our collective psyche, the mystery of the underground cavern has inspired centuries of mythology. What lies beneath inspired fear and
fascination in equal measure and the lack of basic geological understanding led many an early society to speculate what creatures could have created these natural wonders.
These paintings developed from a project James explored as part of his entry for the 2015 New Light Prize Exhibition. Small studies of cave apertures led him to realise the potential for visual drama that the powerful light effects evoked in these subjects. The first two in the series of larger scale works were hung in the New Light exhibition at the Bowes Museum, County Durham, where one, Cavern, was awarded the Public Choice Award by the exhibition visitors.
8 September - 22 September 2017
Panter & Hall
11-12 Pall Mall
Monday to Friday
10.00 AM - 6.00 PM
BY APPOINTMENT ONLY
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