Monday, 5 May 2014

Interview with Alexander James

Alexander James: interview

Alexander James (b1967) is a photographer with a difference. Rather than capturing the moment spontaneously, James creates intricate sculptural compositions submerged in huge tanks of purified water as the object for his camera. The effect of light passing through, heightened against a darkened background, gives the resulting images a painterly appearance, recalling Dutch vanitas still lifes. This blurring of boundaries between photography, painting and sculpture renders James’s works uncategorisable as well as eerily beautiful.

Six months ago, James, who is usually based in London, moved his entire studio to Moscow to prepare for his current exhibition at the Triumph Gallery. Arriving not speaking a word of the language, he made his home and studio in a 250 sq metre space in the Red October, an island in the centre of the city that, under tsars and later Soviet authorities, housed a chocolate factory, but is now a hub for contemporary art. Working with live models suspended in water, the new works he created in situ develop many of his earlier themes, which were greatly inspired by John Millais’ Pre-Raphaelite masterpiece Ophelia (1851) and Paul Delaroche’s La Jeune Martyre (1855).

James found time to speak to Studio International about the process of relocation and creation, just after the opening of his exhibition, Rastvorennaya Pechal (Dissolved Ennui).

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